Using Your House for a Movie or TV Set Can Be Lucrative but Also Disruptive


New Yorker Mary Kay Seery, 60, a real-estate dealer, recollects that individuals have been shocked when she and her husband, Billy Seery, 61, moved in 1998 from the East Village to Prospect Park South, a Brooklyn neighborhood recognized for its indifferent Victorian homes. On the time, it was thought-about the peak of uncool by a few of her associates.

“They have been like, ‘You paid $490,000 for a home in Brooklyn? Are you loopy?’ ” mentioned Ms. Seery.

Their real-estate agent assured them that they’d make hay when the TV and film location scouts arrived. “You’re going to make some huge cash,” Ms. Seery recalled her saying.

TV Reveals like ‘Ladies’ and ‘The Affair’ Have Filmed in This Brooklyn House

Mary Kay Seery’s home has starred in quite a few movies and TV reveals over the previous 20 years

Mary Kay Seery and her son, Quentin, on the porch of their Brooklyn house, which has been featured in lots of movies and TV reveals.

Tayler Smith for The Wall Avenue Journal

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Ms. Seery was skeptical till fliers from scouts began showing in her mailbox. “I’m positive we’ve revamped $500,000 to this point,” Ms. Seery mentioned, including that they’ve made $86,000 apiece on two reveals: “Ladies” on HBO, and “Mysteries of Laura,” an NBC police procedural. Showtime’s “The Affair Season 3” got here subsequent. Their house was a stand-in for a New Jersey residence and a few steamy encounters that didn’t all the time happen in a bed room. “Neighbors would come over,” Ms. Seery remembers, “and say, ‘Did you watch that present? Did you see what occurred in your kitchen countertop?’ ”

Whereas state movie commissions have more and more brokered relationships between property house owners and filmmakers and site companies will store your property for a charge, many—if not most—manufacturing firms do it the old style manner. You don’t discover them. They discover you.

Rian Akey, 49, who works in threat consulting, and Shaun Kane, 41, who works in advertising, discovered a manufacturing firm flier within the mail slot of their house on the Far North Aspect of Chicago in June 2019. They met with a scout that month however heard nothing all summer time.

Lastly, in September, location supervisor Nick Rafferty selected their house because the Smutny Funeral House within the FX crime drama “Fargo Season 4.” The setting was 1950s Kansas Metropolis and the house of Messrs. Akey and Kane—a four-story Queen Anne inbuilt 1885 that they purchased for $850,000 in 2016—match the invoice.

“We have been fairly shocked by how shortly they remodeled our home right into a funeral house,” mentioned Mr. Kane. The set designers added wallpaper in most rooms, then tobacco-stained the wallpaper to offer it a yellowed look. They put in a swinging door between the eating room and the kitchen, Mr. Kane mentioned.

There was additionally a coffin. “The lounge was made into the receiving and viewing space for the funeral house,” Mr. Kane mentioned. “The coffin sat at one finish with an organ to 1 facet. There have been rows of folding chairs in entrance, flower stands on either side and sideboards for espresso and tea service throughout a viewing. We just about averted that space of the home.”

The outside of the Akey/ Kane house, which was featured within the FX drama ‘Fargo Season 4.’


Kevin Serna for The Wall Avenue Journal

Filming started in October 2019 and was speculated to take six months. “We stayed there aside from the shoot days,” Mr. Kane mentioned. “They began very early within the morning and taking pictures went into the night and even in a single day.”

When Covid hit, manufacturing ceased on March 11 with just one or two episodes left to movie, mentioned Mr. Kane. They didn’t return till Aug. 29 and the present didn’t wrap manufacturing within the house till Sept. 8. As a substitute of six months, the present was of their home for 11.

Shaun Kane exterior his house.


Kevin Serna for The Wall Avenue Journal

“We had a coffin in our front room for nearly a 12 months,” mentioned Mr. Akey. It took one other month for the placement crew to return the house to its prior state, together with reinstalling the wrought iron fence that surrounded the property and reseeding the garden. Messrs. Akey and Kane mentioned they have been glad with their charge. “We definitely didn’t do it only for the expertise,” mentioned Mr. Kane. They wouldn’t focus on the quantity attributable to a nondisclosure settlement.

NDAs have change into commonplace with the proliferation of social media, mentioned Mr. Rafferty, the placement supervisor. “Owners might overhear confidential conversations or be aware about the plot or story line,” he mentioned, particularly when taking pictures scripts are left mendacity round the home. “The very last thing the studio needs are pictures of the present on social media whereas the shoot is on. Additionally they don’t need the neighborhood to know what they’ve paid for the shoot.”

Location charges are tied to union labor prices, from the celebs to the set dressers. The manufacturing’s dimension additionally has an affect. “What components of the home we’re utilizing, how in depth the renovation will likely be, how lengthy the shoot will final and whether or not owners must be put up in a resort” are all components, mentioned Mr. Rafferty.

“I be certain that owners perceive that once we do a deal, we’re beginning a journey and don’t know what issues will appear like on the finish. I start each negotiation with ‘we need to make it price your whereas.’ The producer hires me to determine what which means,” mentioned Mr. Rafferty.

A scene being shot within the kitchen of the house of Messrs. Kane and Akey, higher left, and what it appears to be like like when not serving as a location.


Kevin Serna for The Wall Avenue Journal

Carroll Belser remembers the 2002 South Carolina shoots for “The Pocket book,” a romantic drama with Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams primarily based on Nicholas Sparks’ 1996 novel. As Ms. Belser recollects, she was together with her 4-year-old niece who had a crush on Mr. Gosling and have become incensed throughout a love scene with Ms. McAdams. When their lips met, she shouted “Yeech!”

One other scene was shot on the Sunnyside Plantation in a small visitor cottage that, within the movie, served as the house of the character performed by Sam Shepard. Situated on Edisto Island, a barrier island a few 45-mile drive from Charleston, Sunnyside has been in Ms. Besler’s household since at the least the early 1800s and consists of a number of buildings together with the stays of a cotton gin. Ms. Belser’s great-grandfather constructed the three-story, 4,000-square-foot fundamental home in 1875.

“My late father had finished L.L. Bean shoots there earlier than I owned the home,” mentioned Ms. Belser, 68. She works with Appleseed, a ladies’s clothes line that does catalog shoots primarily on the entrance porch of the primary home.

Ms. Belser mentioned she was paid $2,000 a day for the shoots. “They paid my canine, Gumbeaux, a Labrador retriever, $500 to be on the quilt with one of many fashions. He all the time was a good-looking satan,” she mentioned. She was additionally paid $2,500 in Could for a one-day shoot for a TV pilot “Quick Time period Rental.”

Though location hosts are nicely paid, the manufacturing firm can occupy your private home in a disconcerting manner. After an settlement is made that solely sure components of a house will likely be filmed, some manufacturing firms might go to locations they mentioned they wouldn’t—for instance, after agreeing to make use of solely the kitchen, they could need to shoot in a bed room.

“Ensure they first comply with pay additional,” Ms. Seery mentioned. “And be sure you have a superb relationship with the placement supervisor.”

Location supervisor Tom Yeager mentioned that if a home is featured, even only for exteriors, owners have to log out on a location launch, which normally features a location charge. Productions will usually not get a launch or make a cost if a house is barely by the way proven in a shot or is within the background.

Cheryl McFeely, Ms. Seery’s neighbor who has allowed her house for use as a manufacturing location for 20 years, has seen the draw back of filming.

“They may usually wreck your flooring throughout a shoot,” she mentioned, including that the foot visitors of individuals and gear can take a toll.

The entrance porch of the visitor cottage on the Sunnyside Plantation after filming ‘The Pocket book,’ left, and throughout the shoot with Rachel McAdams, Sam Shepard and Ryan Gosling.


Kelli Boyd for The Wall Avenue Journal; Melissa Mosley/New Line Productions

Ms. McFeely, 64, who bought her house in Prospect Park South for $335,000 in 1994, began by internet hosting commercials. That led to a location shoot for the 1998 movie “A Worth Above Rubies” with Renée Zellweger and Julianna Margulies. “Half Nelson” with Ryan Gosling and Shareeka Epps was additionally shot at her home, she mentioned. In the course of the 2006 shoot of Edward Burns’s “The Groomsman,” neighboring properties additionally received roles for which owners have been paid.

Ms. McFeely’s final shoot was “The Nice Gilly Hopkins” in 2015 with Kathy Bates taking part in an eccentric hoarder who adopts a teenage daughter. Ms. McFeely’s home served because the Bates character’s house for a couple of months. That shoot netted Ms. McFeely $85,000.

“The cash is nice,” she mentioned, “however after we had our flooring changed, we determined to cease the shoots. We didn’t need harm to our new flooring.”

Ms. Seery says she’s had different harm finished to her house however mentioned that follow-up repairs made issues proper in nearly each case.

She additionally tempered the notion that filmmakers will beat a path to your door simply because your home is gorgeous. “It doesn’t matter how savvy you’re or how gorgeous your property is, it must be a spot that may change into a part of the story. If it doesn’t work for the present, it received’t work as a location.”

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