Is Your Castle Ready For Its Close-Up?"

by Stephen Rebello, Playboy, May 2004, page 32

You've come to grips with the fact that you'll probably never see your face on the silver screen. But that doesn't mean your front porch, living room or quaint attic can't score as much camera time as Brad Pitt and earn some A-list-style dough, too. Every scene of a film not shot on a prefab Hollywood back lot has to be shot — and paid for — somewhere.

"We find private locations through state film commissions, via agencies that list properties and often just from driving around neighborhoods and knocking on doors," says location scout Scott Trimble, who combs the nation in search of backdrops for movies such as 50 First Dates and Sean Penn's upcoming The Assassination of Richard Nixon. "Once a director decides to use your place, we negotiate a price depending on how big a movie it is and whether we need to move in and bring 300 crew people."

So what's the paycheck for home invasion, Hollywood style? The going day rate can range from $500 to $5,000, and the final tally for a primary location can run to a whopping $100,000. Location scout Scott Allen Logan, who hunted down private pads for the upcoming Meet the Fockers, comments, "What we paid the owners of the colonial Craftsman-style house I found in Pasadena, California for Daddy Day Care could finance several years at a private university. And the owner of the house used in Wag the Dog was rumored to have been paid north of $100,000 and then got another $200,000 for scratched floors."

Make no mistake, renting out one's pad, like any other showbiz encounter, can leave scars. Consider the Manhattanite forced to make weeks of harassing middle-of-the-night phone calls before the producers of a 1970s-set indie comedy finally restored lime-green walls to a color the owner could stomach. And once a film hits theaters, readily identifiable locations often attract curious trespassers and even memento scavengers. Logan cautions that subletting to a movie production isn't for everyone, especially those just out for the big payday. "If people think their house is going to win them the lottery, more often than not the lottery is really the excitement of having Hollywood in their home." Thanks, but we'll take the cash. Up front.

©2004 Playboy