Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Ready for your screen test?

Here are some of the questions production companies ask when looking at a property for potential use in a production:

Availability: When is your property available? Can you turn over the site full time for however long it is needed? Will you need to use the location while filming is going on? Is anything going on that would limit availability? If you are in the middle of a remodeling project, or your street is dug up for sewer work, for example, it could be tough for a film crew to use it.

Noise: Are you close to an airport? A highway? A train yard? A rowdy bar? Environmental noise can be a serious problem if the project needs to record sound while filming.

Access and parking: Can equipment trucks, trailers and cars get to your site? Is there enough parking nearby for semis, catering trucks, portable toilets, dressing rooms, generators, cranes, lifts and cars for crew and extras? Is there someplace near for actors, crew and extras to eat, and to wait while shots are set up? Big-budget feature films need a lot of space; independent films, documentaries and commercials generally need much less.

Obstructions: What else is visible around your property? Phone and power lines? Billboards, antennas, water towers, power transmitters, neon signs, traffic signals?

To suggest your property

To submit your property for consideration as a site for movies, TV shows or commercials, send the following to Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky Film Commission, Location Pull, 602 Main St., Suite 712, Cincinnati 45202:

• Good-quality 35mm or digital color pictures of your location. The preferred form is a set of photos taped together to show a 180-degree panoramic view. (The film commission can provide instructions on how to put together good panoramic shots and mount them for display.) Photos become property of the commission, a not-for-profit organization.

• Name of location

• Owner or manager

• Address and phone number (contact information remains confidential.)

• Notes regarding use of location

• Map or directions to location

• Date the photos were taken

The film commission will select outstanding sites for recognition as most unique, most likely to be requested and "most likely to be found outside the area." According to commission director Kristen Erwin, that means sites that could be "a Florida home, an Italian church, a spaceship or life-size ice cream cone store or sign," or any other unusual locale.

Top sites will be featured on the commission Web site (www.filmcincinnati.com), and owners will receive gifts such as memberships to the film commission, movie passes and T-shirts.

Legal matters

A location contract is a private agreement negotiated directly between the property owner and the company that wants to use it. A location manager, production manager or producer will work out the terms with the owner. If you are asked to lend your property to a production, keep these points in mind:

• Get a contract for each location, if you are providing more than one site.

• Discuss with the production company what you will and will not find acceptable, and put your conditions in writing.

• Make sure the contract specifies all the time involved, fees and expenses, and special requirements of both parties.

• Show the contract to your lawyer if you have any questions.

• Be sure to ask for a certificate of insurance to cover any damage that might occur to your property during filming, and a hold-harmless agreement to protect you from liability for any injuries on the set.

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