Getting Creative with Locations Using Airbnb

Posted by on Jul 7, 2014 in FilmHacker | No Comments
Getting Creative with Locations Using Airbnb

Speaking of locations, if there is one place to search for location inspiration on the internet it’s Airbnb.com.You can literally call up any place, any price range and imagine a scene on the spot. Then write.

If you’re already in the pre-production phase, you could use Airbnb to connect with spaces that might have been otherwise out of your budget’s reach. Some productions are scouring the site to find interesting locations. Though not through Airbnb, many of Sunnyside Films productions were shot in spaces that you might not think of as a movie set, like the scene pictured above of Heather Lind as Shannon in The Last Day of August, which was shot at a home in upstate New York. There are a lot of things to consider when filming on a residential property, so here’s some things to think about for your next shoot.

Airbnb is not intended for use as a location scouting service, so consider the implications of filming, especially the impact on the space, neighbors, and general infrastructure. Share them with your potential host. As always, you are responsible for your own production.

Start by asking yourself a few questions.

  • How many people will be at the shoot?

  • What are the set and prop needs?

  • What needs to be provided by the host? Do you need towels, sheets, blankets?

  • Did you buy the right insurance?

  • What are you bringing into their space and during what hours?

Then get on the site and start searching for your space. When you find a space you like, contact your potential host. Ask a lot of questions before booking a space and clearly communicate your goals and concerns.

  • Do you have enough juice for the lights?

  • Are you in an airplane flight path? On a truck route? Near a highway?

  • If the production gets loud, or if people are coming and going, will the neighbors freak out?

  • Do you have homeowner’s insurance or renter’s insurance policies and to what extent do they cover such activities, if any?

Airbnb discourages you from viewing a space before you book and pay for it. Try to connect with the host of the location you like in a message and see if you can swing by. Be aware of the wording you use in the message, because the site censors language like website addresses and brand names. When discussing your plans with the host, make sure you are clear on your needs and have a defined schedule for your shoot.

Some more things to consider.

  • Are there pets on the property, and can they stay or should they go?

  • Should you offer your host a cameo or thank them in the credits?

  • What special aspects of the space will add to the story line you’ve already crafted?

  • Do the limitations of the space help define your story or restrict your options for it?

Our pro tip is to offer more than the advertised rate for the space because your production needs far exceed those of a normal houseguest. If you’re unsure where to start, try doubling the advertised price. An average apartment dweller is unfamiliar with your needs but will probably be willing to accommodate you for the right price. Always be honest about the fact that you’re filming something and be clear about what it is, lest the potential host think you are shooting a porn scene in their bathroom.

You can negotiate a fair price when communicating with your potential host. Airbnb offers hosts the ability to send you a special offer. If your rental is more of an hourly use case, ask if they can offer you an hourly rate. Define your hours and terms clearly.

Overall, Airbnb can help save your budget and find you a unique gem, but it’s important to be respectful of people’s personal spaces. Make sure you are always an above-board honest broker of people’s time and energy. More often than not people love to be a part of a good story.

Watch The Last Day of August and The Weekend on iTunes and see how two unique upstate New York locations were used.

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