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Do Movies Have to Pay Towns and Cities to Film There? If so How Much?

Do Movies Have to Pay Towns and Cities to Film There? If so How Much?

I recently found myself close to a film shoot in the center of my local town. The area where the film was being shot was cordoned off completely. Of course, my mind was wondering how the film crew managed to shoot in that specifically busy area in broad daylight. I even wondered if the film crew had to pay a hefty fee to shoot there. 

Truth be told, movie studios do have to pay towns and cities in order to film in a particular area. There is no place that is freely open to moviemakers for filming. In fact, the production companies that do have a major budget for films must pay tons of money to close off a block or two just so they can shoot on real sets instead of recreated sets. 

A makeshift set for shooting is the cheaper option and there’s a huge reason why many big film production companies choose to create replica sets instead of paying for a location.  

Considering payment for different types of sets

A landscape photo of a city and bridge at night.

To be totally honest, filmmakers use all types of sets in different parts of towns and cities so that they can shoot better scenes. The type of set they choose to use for shooting will determine the daily going rate that they must pay. 

On average, the daily shooting rate starts at 500 dollars (and usually during the day before the sun goes down). It may even cost the film production company about 1000 dollars for one day of shooting. 

While movie directors choose a set for shooting based on the movie budget, the type of location where a scene is shot also plays a huge role in how much they spend on the movie per day. 

Many movie companies understand that blocking off an entire area or set place is costly and therefore newer film directors choose to only shoot with skeleton staff while on location so they can spend fewer hours trying to get the perfect shot. 

Thereafter, the film’s main actors are made to perform in front of a green screen and then digitally composed to appear as if they were in a particular location during shooting. This is a great way for filmmakers to save money considering the asking price of houses and city locations. 

You may not realize it, but many of your favorite series or films employ this technique of digitally composing an actor or actress into a scene to save on their budgets.

Types of film sets and prices 

The house set

A luxury brix house with a wide frontyard.Most people don’t know this, but you can actually rent out your home to filmmakers for a premium, especially if you have an architecturally interesting house. In England in particular, renting out your home to filmmakers is a booming source of income for ordinary citizens who use their creativity to earn extraordinary money. 

Many homeowners are designing their homes in order to attract filmmakers’ attention. Gillian Milner is one such example of this. Milner rents out her house for about 670 dollars a day. 

Interestingly enough, the previous homeowner of the home created the house with the sole intent of establishing a home that will be the ideal film set. If a home is rented out at 500 pounds, I cannot begin to fathom how much more it will cost for a movie creator to utilize blocks in more prominent areas of a city. Milner rents her house through an agency that hosts over 4000 properties available for filmmakers to rent out.

Shooting on the streets in towns and cities

A man taking a shoot in the street on christmas.Most filmmakers have been known to take shortcuts by recreating sets that resemble a particular street instead of shooting on location. On the other hand, filmmakers who choose to use an actual street for shooting have a lot more considerations to make. 

Since movie creators don’t have the rights to block off entire streets, many filmmakers choose to just shoot impromptu, a process that is far less costly. In fact, many of the best blockbusters have shot scenes in an impromptu kind of way. 

To shoot in a public place, movie creators need to put in a request to shoot in a particular spot months in advance. The request must be heard by the local government and once approved, the company can then rent the street or a place in town to shoot in for a few days. 

When it comes to setting their daily budgets, filmmakers must also include the overtime that they will be paying their actors to make the most of the location rented for the day. Location fees that do not include the overtime paid to actors and a variety of other expenses typically start from 100 dollars. 

The peak amount that filmmakers usually pay for just a day of shooting on a busy city street is about 20 000 dollars. Still, no film production company is given the right to block anyone from gaining access to a street where shooting is taking place, regardless of how much they pay. 

If costs don’t overburden the budget then the fact that a 2 month notice period needs to be given before the actual shoot can begin may cause movie directors to reconsider.

Cutting down on costs for shooting in the city

A photo of camera filming a movie in the city.

While filming in a particular area may seem ideal at first, budgetary concerns can quickly dash any hopes of doing so. 

If a scene must be filmed in a city in order to create authenticity, then filmmakers must choose their streets and spots wisely. For instance, instead of going for the more high-end uptown areas, directors can opt for much cheaper areas and streets. Filming in Vancouver can be far more cost-effective than filming in Santa Barbara itself. 

You will note many movies and series that claim to take place in a more elite area of a town or city are actually shot downtown to avoid unnecessary costs. that’s because shutting down even the smallest area in a place like Brooklyn can be too expensive.