How to get your house on TV and movies

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution - - HOMEFINDER - By Linda Jerkins

Is your home pro­duc­tion-friendly? At­lanta’s Amy McGary and Melanie An­tos talk about what it takes – from de­sign to lo­ca­tion – for your home to play a role in At­lanta’s TV and film in­dus­try.


AM: I ma­jored in film at UGA and stepped di­rectly out of class onto a film set in Athens. Not long after, I made my way out to Cal­i­for­nia to work on the first “Ter­mi­na­tor,” but re­turned to At­lanta where I’ve worked for most of my ca­reer. Some of my early high­lights in­clude work on “Driv­ing Miss Daisy,” “Glory,” and the ac­claimed TV se­ries “I’ll Fly Away.” I was also for­tu­nate enough to win an Emmy for the tele­vi­sion mini-se­ries, “The Old­est Liv­ing Con­fed­er­ate Widow Tells All.” There have been many shows in be­tween, but re­cent projects in­clude Melissa McCarthy’s soonto-be re­leased “Life of the Party” and “The Boss.”

MA: I grew up in Buf­falo, New York, in a fam­ily of seven girls, a nd moved to Iowa my fresh­man year of high school. I started act- ing/mod­el­ing in Chicago be­fore mov­ing to At­lanta to be closer to fam­ily. I have had a thriv­ing act­ing and mod­el­ing ca­reer since I was 15 years old, trav­el­ing all over the coun­try and abroad. In 2007, I jump edto the other side of the cam­era and started At­lanta-based Mellen Pro­duc­tions Loca- tion Ser­vices with my busi­ness part­ner and friend, Ellen Rizzo, who put aside her styling and print-pro­duc­ing ca­reer.

De­scribe your job:

AM: As a set dec­o­ra­tor, I work with the pro­duc­tion de­signer to cre­ate the world that sur­rounds the char­ac­ters in a script. I tell home- own­ers when we “re-dec­o­rate” it is be­cause we are cre­at­ing a space in keep- ing with the char­ac­ter who lives there. It doesn’t mean we don’t like or ap­pre­ci­ate their style.

MA: Our job is to match the lo­ca­tion to the cre­ative con­cept. If we don’t have the style of home or lo­ca­tion (a coun­try road with a bend) in our data­base, we go out and scout it. Once the lo­ca­tion is cho­sen and ap­proved by the di­rec­tor and client, we over­see the lo­gis­tics, from pro­cess­ing film per­mits with the city, to find­ing off­site park­ing, to mak­ing sure the lo­ca­tion is prop­erly pro­tected for the pro­ject when equip­ment and large groups of peo­ple roll in. We’re the li­ai­son be­tween the home­owner or lo­ca­tion rep and the pro­duc­tion com­pany.

First de­sign/lo­ca­tion jobs:

AM: I was a set dresser, lead per­son, and then buyer be­fore be­com­ing a set dec­o­ra­tor. My first to­tal im­mer­sion into set dec­o­rat­ing was on the TV se­ries, “I’ll Fly Away.” The first episode I dec­o­rated was for David Chase (cre­ator of “The So­pra­nos”) who was di­rect­ing. Still a fa­vorite mem­ory.

MA: A print ad­ver­tise­ment through Quadras pho­tog- ra­phy stu­dio. About a year later, F iz­zCi­tyFilms’ex­ecu- tive pro­ducer hired us to pro­vide a man­sion for a GA Lot­tery com­mer­cial cam­paign.

In­spi­ra­tion for the de­sign/lo­ca­tion: The script.

Chal­leng­ing parts of the job:

AM: Last-minute changes and deal­ing with the stu­dio’s le­gal and clear­ance de­part­ments re­gard­ing art­work and copy­righted ma­te­ri­als. Never enough time or money also keeps me up at night.

MA : Find­ing mul­ti­ple op­tions that meet the cre­ative spec­i­fi­ca­tions and pro­ject size. Also re­quests for green grass and green trees/ shrub­bery in the mid­dle of win­ter.

What do you try to avoid: MA: Busy streets. Nar­row streets. And steep drive­ways that trucks can’t getup.

Most un­usual re­quest: AM: Be­ing asked on a Fri­day to have a set of Foo Dogs, four-feet tall carved out of foam, ready by Mon­day. It hap­pened with the help of sculp­tor Martin Dawe whose com­mis­sion of Martin Luther King Jr. was just un­veiled at the State Capi­tol.

MA: Find­ing ac­tive light­houses on the Georgia coast and ac­com­mo­dat­ing large an­i­mals (horses and cows) in a neigh­bor­hood set­ting.

Pros & cons of us­ing your home:


■ Op­por­tu­nity to meet crews, ac­tors and get a be­hind-the-scenes view of the mak­ing of a TV show or movie.

■ Earn a lit­tle money. For the most part, there is no set rate. The amount can­vary de­pend­ing on the lo­ca­tion bud­get of the show, the lo­ca­tion it­self, scene re­quire­ments, the num­ber of peo­ple in­volved, the size of the house and the im­pact on the prop­erty. The rate ranges from $2,500 to $5,000 per day or more.


■ 12-hour plus days of film­ing (TV or movie). Though com­mer­cial shoots are of­ten shot in one or two days, one TV episode shoots in three to seven days with prep and cleanup/wrap-up days. A movie could take weeks.

■ Hav­ing strangers (50 to more than 150 strangers) in your house and neigh­bor­hood.

■ On some movies, it re­quires re­mov­ing every­thing from your home so it can be re­painted and dec­o­rated. Then re-set­ting every­thing after film­ing.

How to list your home/prop­erty as a film lo­ca­tion:

1. Go to the Georgia film site (­dus­tries/entertainment). Free.

2. Con­tact a lo­ca­tion ser­vice com­pany, such as Mel­lenPro­duc­, which will rep­re­sent your prop­erty and act as agent. Lo­ca­tion com­pa­nies take a per­cent­age of the lo­ca­tion fee for ser­vices if the home gets booked. How­ever, it’s free to list your home/prop­erty.


is 2,156-square-foot Vic­to­rian was used as a set for “The Walk­ing Dead.”

Amy McGary

Melanie An­tos

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