How to get your house on TV and movies
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 (Georgia.org/industries/entertainment). Free.
2. Contact a location service company, such as MellenProductions.com, 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.”