Film Locations and How to Get More Bookings For Yours
At Wrapal, one of the most common questions we get from location managers or owners is how to get more bookings.
The questions range from: How do we attract more filmmakers? What are we doing wrong? Is my house priced too expensively for filming? What should I do to get more bookings?
The answer is multifold. The truth of the matter is that there really isn’t a silver bullet for getting more bookings. However, having run the entertainment industry’s first locations marketplace for a few years, we’ve seen our fair share of common factors that lead to a successful booking.
Today, we’ll be sharing some insider tips on what goes through the mind of filmmakers when location scouting, highlight techniques for attracting said filmmakers, and offering some best practices on how to make the rental of your film location that much more attractive.
Response Rate to Filmmakers
Have you ever texted or called someone and felt a little bit frustrated when they took forever to reply, or worse yet, never even bothered responding? Compound that with complicated 12 hour days on set and you have a film production. As you can imagine, film shoots are typically very stressful affairs and the last thing we want to do is add to that stress by leaving our filmmakers hanging when they need to secure their location quickly and efficiently.
Indeed, how quickly you respond to requests is one of the most important factors on how highly your property ranks in the searches. Even if your property is not available or you’re not in a position to check your calendar, always reply and let the filmmaker know so that they can work on contingencies or factor that into the decision-making process.
You can respond through the website’s inbox or by hitting ‘reply’ to a message via email; whichever is more convenient. Responding quickly also means that you won’t lose the booking to another property who has been quicker in replying to a prospective filmmaker. More importantly, responding on time to means you property will show up higher in our search results, which in turn leads to more bookings.
A Film Location’s Location
As they say: Location, Location, Location. Where your property is can often be just as important as what it is. Though filmmakers are often willing to travel for a unique location, many often hesitate to commute anywhere more than an hour outside a major metropolitan area. Some crews also have to factor in the Thirty Mile Zone (TMZ; though not to be confused with the tabloid).
Though this is a relic of the studio era where crews would have to get paid more to travel 30 miles outside metropolitan Los Angeles, some union film crews still stick to the rule. More often than not, Producers, Production Managers and Production Coordinators would rather pay a higher price to film in Los Angeles than compensate their cast and crew with higher day rates, a per diem, or extra gas money. In gridlocked cities like Los Angeles or New York, time is money and both are wasted in a long commute to a film set.
However, there are exceptions: filmmakers will be willing to book if you have a very unique filming location that would ordinarily never be available in the city (think a deserted airstrip or a ranch or farmhouse filming location like the one below). That being said, lowering your asking price to consider the extra money a producer will have to pay for a crew’s longer commute will go a long way in incentivizing them to book.
Information about Your Film Location
The more information you can supply a filmmaker ahead of time, the more likely they’ll commit to a booking. Beyond just filling out the listing form to the best of your ability, this includes showcasing clearly what your location looks like, how much parking is available, power options, disclosing any possible restrictions, etc. Basically this stuff:
Not only does this minimize your time having to answer questions, but it also weeds out filmmakers who may not be as serious about filming at the property. The more you disclose in writing ahead of time, the less surprises (and thus less flaking) there will be later.
This is especially true of pictures. As they say, pictures are worth a thousand words and we strongly encourage you to take full advantage of all 30 slots in the listing gallery to showcase every single aspect of your property. Real estate principles apply: Make sure the photos are wide, well-lit shots taken in high resolution (preferably from a DSLR). This is a great example below:
Also – When in doubt, feel free to create an extra listing showcasing a unique area of your property that may be separate from your main listing. For instance, if you have a home theater (lucky you; when can we come over with popcorn?), feel free to make a second listing just for that.
Or if your soundstage has multiple standing sets, create a listing for each area such as this:
Yes, even the alleyway of your building or the server room of your office apply – And why not? It does not cost you anything more to create more than one listing. After all, you never know – Filmmakers might need a very specific location that they might overlook if it’s hidden in a larger listing.
Pricing of Your Film Location
Speaking of payment and pricing, setting realistic price expectations is key to securing more bookings. Yes, we’ve all heard of that one time Warner Brothers rented out your friend’s place for $10,000 or how CSI rented your Aunt’s beach house for $5,000 just to film a quick cut scene. Like most things in life, making a quick, easy buck can happen. But it is rare. It’s an outlier. The bulk of most location budgets in Hollywood range from $1,000 to $2,000 for a standard 12 hour day.
If you have a phenomenal, stunningly gorgeous mansion that you’d like at least $5,000, it will get booked as filmmakers do need homes like that (Wolf of Wall Street II, anyone?). However, the volume of bookings for a higher priced property like will be far less than an ‘everywhere America’ mid-century single-family home like the one below that rents out for $500 to $1,000 a day.
Think of it like a restaurant: Only so many people can afford to eat at a Michelin-starred restaurant every day. The bulk of us are stuck with In and Out (not that we’re complaining).
Repeat Bookings for Filmmakers
One of the most important components of how to get more revenue through Wrapal is prior bookings. Because we’re a peer-to-peer marketplace driven by both filmmaker and property owners, trust is key. We want everyone to get the best experience possible. For filmmakers, this translates into them getting access to not only the most relevant, but also the most trustworthy and credible properties possible.
This essentially means that the more that you can show you’re a credible, verified property, the higher you’ll rank. Getting verified is the first step, followed by booking through our secure Stripe payment platform. Booking on Wrapal not only gives you peace of mind with our security deposit system, location contracts and Damage Waiver Assurance through Athos Insurance, but also enables us to mediate any potential issues that might arise later.
Moreover, booking through Wrapal shows that you’re an accredited member of the filming locations community, are familiar with filmmakers, and are capable of facilitating a shoot – All of which are important attributes filmmakers look for when shortlisting their filming locations.
If you’ve never rented out your business or home as a filming location, it can’t hurt to take a small price reduction on your first booking. Do it for the experience and consider it an investment that will pay off: The more you book, the higher you rank on our search algorithm which in turn leads to more business down the road. It will pay off.
The Future of Film Bookings
From the onset, we started Wrapal to create a win-win for both filmmakers and film locations. For filmmakers, we provide them with the most unique, convenient, and affordable film locations possible. For film locations, we’re creating a source of passive income through film productions as well as means of seeing moviemaking magic up close.
Over the next few months, we’ll be developing an even more user-friendly, intuitive, and innovative booking system for Wrapal. Given our mission statement, it’s our first and foremost goal to make sure both filmmakers and film locations have the most effective, seamless booking experience possible. For a small taste, check out our revamped our homepage.
Have you seen it yet?
Look how far we’ve come! Are you excited? We certainly are.
That’s a Wrapal!
*Images used under Creative Commons License. Credited to: Vlad Iovita – Moldavian Soviet writer and filmmaker, Santa Clarita Film Office, Wikipedia, Wrapal, and more.