Finance Property Lights, camera, ka-ching! Cashing in on your home’s star qualities

Lights, camera, ka-ching! Cashing in on your home’s star qualities

tv crew house
If you have the right house in the right location, your property could become a star. Photo: Getty Images
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Like the idea of leaving for work early in the morning and finding your house has made you $1000 by knock-off time?

If you have the right house in the right location this is more than a pipe dream, says film and TV location scout Tim Scott who has found locations for dozens of productions in his 25-year career.

From local TV shows The Wrong Girl, House Husbands, Winners & Losers to made-in-Australia Hollywood movies including Ghost Rider and the HBO drama The Leftovers, the Melbourne-based Scott scours real estate websites, Airbnb and knocks on doors to find real houses for fictional people.

“Just don’t have a big front fence,’’ says Scott, and he’s not referring to the efforts he sometimes has to make to convince home owners to let a crew of anywhere between 25 to 60 people on their property.

“We don’t like front fences because in a TV show you need the hero shot that establishes where the characters live.

“I work with the director and designers in finding where the characters should live,’’ he adds, telling Your Property that as TV production increases around the globe, the Australian dollar remains below the greenback and film equipment becomes more compact, producers are increasingly using real locations rather than building costly and cumbersome sets.

Now, he says, is a better time than ever to list your house with the states’ film funding bodies which keep locations registers.

winners losers
Australian TV shows such as Winners & Losers use real properties as locations. Photo: AAP/Seven Network

But in return for the average daily location fee of $1000 (or up to $3500 for a lavish mansion or penthouse apartment), the owners have to be prepared for a lot of disruption, although they will be accommodated in a serviced apartment or hotel when a shoot goes more than one day.

“You won’t be able to get into your house from dawn to after dusk, and if you have white walls you’ll probably have to agree to have them repainted to a bright, or even dark, colour because white walls are the death knell for the screen,’’ Scott warns.

But how to break into home show business?

Living in Melbourne and Sydney helps as that’s where most film and TV production is — and having an open floor plan is attractive to a location scout.

“When a TV scriptwriter wants a character to live, say, in a Victorian cottage, they might end up in a contemporary house because the rooms are too small to accommodate the crew,” Scott says.

Other advantages are locations in a quiet street, parking access, not near schools, train or tram lines and ideally near a park for catering tents.

While apartments reflect real life — and can inject New York glamour for a US production – the location scout takes the building’s elevator access and body corporate rules into consideration.

For those lucky to have their house chosen for a regular character in a recurring TV series such as The Wrong Girl or Offspring, the money earned in three-day shoot a few times a year can make a nice dent in the mortgage.

But the hardest people to convince are the mansion owners because they usually don’t think the disruptions are worth it.

“If they get to watch on set, they might say yes. The bonus is they make enough to take the family on a nice holiday.”