About a month ago, we noticed a lot of equipment appearing in the yard of the house a little ways down the road and across the street. It backs up to our street and fronts an adjacent neighborhood comprised of mainly 1950′s style colonials around a cul-de-sac.

The neighborhood is becoming the backdrop for the filming of a movie this summer based on the 1961 Richard Yates book called Revolutionary Road starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, two of my favorites.

What does this have to do with real estate? Hmmmm… ok, give me a second and I’ll think of something.

A month ago, we were approached by the Revolutionary Road movie production crew to film scenes in our house for 3-4 days. They would move all of our furniture and possessions out of the house and put us up in a hotel. Of course, for the hassle, the going rate was $10,000 per day. Hey, I could suffer with the inconvenience. It would cover the late fees for the dvds my kids lost from Blockbuster last year.

Over the course of the week, we were in the running with two other houses. Ultimately, the powers that be decided to go with a house in an adjacent town because our interior condition was “too nice” and “not worn enough.” Of course I was tempted to confirm whether they had actually looked in my teenage sons’ bedrooms before they rendered the decision.

After our brush with the movie business went bust, we found out that several neighbors, closer to the main house where the movie was to be filmed, had been hired for the use of their driveways to store equipment, set up food tables for staff, store the port-a-potty truck, etc. The going rate was about $250 per day which seemed pretty cheap to me, but probably worth the bragging rights.

Our next door neighbor’s house, which has been for sale, was rented out for the actors and actresses to have a nice place to practice their lines. I don’t know what the rate was, but the owners of the house where a large portion of the filming is being done, were supposedly paid $185,000 for three months of use and were rented a large house on the waterfront.

In New York City, where there are a heck of a lot movies being filmed on any given day, there are people who actively market their properties to be used in movies. Its a whole cottage industry. In a number of the properties we have inspected for appraisals over the years, many homeowners will volunteer their experiences. Its not clear whether this type of short term property use impacts market value locally, but everyone seems to have fun talking about it.

Lately, the street in front of my house is often clogged with parked semi-tractor trailer movie production trucks and police directing traffic. Its certainly exciting but I can see it is going to get old fairly quickly.

But if Leonardo and Kate were to come over for dinner…we’ll splurge and order out pizza.


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3 Responses to “In The Driveway Of The Revolutionary Road”

  1. Robert Decker says:

    As a former Location Manager for over 16 years in Los Angeles, I can tell you that your description of the filming and fees sounds close to the norm. Yes, some homeowners in L.A. brag about their experience having a film crew use their home. I can also tell you, that it is not very much fun. After a couple days you feel like you don’t actually own your house, they do. And if you hang around, you are in the way. When the crew starts walking through your garden you begin to hyperventilate. The money is good, but you might not like the actors anymore after the experience.
    They’re only human (some less so) and they may not care one bit who owns the house.

  2. Thanks Robert – yes thats what we’ve been told by others – a major pain. With school wrapping up and 4 kids to manage, the timing would not have been great.

  3. WT Economist says:

    “In New York City, where there are a heck of a lot movies being filmed on any given day, there are people who actively market their properties to be used in movies…Lately, the street in front of my house is often clogged with parked semi-tractor trailer movie production trucks and police directing traffic. Its certainly exciting but I can see it is going to get old fairly quickly.”

    That’s a problem. You get big bucks. The neighbors get inconvenienced. The film crews can either be great or total jerks, and there is no way to know in advance. You become very unpopular on your own street.

    A related way to earn money, of questionable zoning legality, is to rent our your house to tourists or expats on assignment when you are a tourist or expat on assignment yourself. I’d be a little nervous about what I would come back to, but people do it.