Andrea Franklin and Matthew Ames are not film buffs per se, but they do love a good movie. And though the Toronto twosome certainly doesn’t evaluate films based on their set design, Franklin has always gotten a bit of house envy when she sees a movie set done well. (“Something’s Gotta Give” was a particular fave).
So, it’s no wonder that when a film location scout showed interest in shooting their distinctive Forest Hill home, Franklin and Ames jumped at the chance.
“I think our house is pretty cool,” Franklin says, “and I love showing it off to producers who feel like they’ve seen it all.”
Producers typically haven’t seen it all, and so they make good use of websites like the Ontario Locations library, which features over 350,000 images representing 10,000 locations. The library is comprehensively maintained by a provincial agency called Ontario Creates, which facilitates economic development, investment and collaboration in Ontario’s creative industries.
“We registered on the Locations library,” shares Franklin, “and since then, our home has been used in eight or nine productions over the last decade (including commercials, television series, and web series). That’s a big help when you have to pay the camp bills, and the travel bills, and the life bills…”
But the benefits are not just monetary, explains Ontario Film Commissioner, Justin Cutler:
“Many people enjoy renting their house to films and television series so they can see how their house was transformed for a period piece, horror or some other location.”
And homeowners are typically well taken care of by production teams that understand the potential for disruption.
“All of the parameters of the filming are worked out ahead,” says Cutler. “Productions will compensate the owners, and the homeowner may stay in a hotel or find other accommodation. Plus, the production should always have insurance that covers the contents of the home.”
It was that measure of professionalism that convinced Thea Weisdorf and Allan Kanee to rent their stunning midtown home for use in the 2009 film, “Chloe.”
“The interior of our house had been featured in Toronto Life and The Globe And Mail,” recalls Weisdorf. “And as a result of that, the local site manager for ‘Chloe’ contacted our architect, Drew Mandel.”
A meeting was arranged, and producer Ivan Reitman and director Atom Egoyan sat down with the couple to give them an overview of the project.
“It all seemed very professional,” says Kanee. “From the contract, to the discussion of suitable living arrangements… we just trusted the team. And I really loved ‘Ghostbusters’ and ‘Stripes’ (Reitman films of old), so I knew they’d do something tasteful!”
The production team provided a detailed shooting schedule, and made sure to arrange nearby housing to accommodate the couple’s two children, then aged 10 and 11. The team also took great care in removing and storing Weisdorf and Kanee’s extensive art collection, though Ontario Creates always suggests that sentimental or irreplaceable things should be removed by the homeowner or stored somewhere safe before production.
“It takes a certain leap of faith to give your house over,” says Kanee. “But the ‘Chloe’ team assured us that everything would be alright, and it proved to be a very positive experience.”
Franklin and Ames have had much the same experience, and according to Ontario Creates, homes are sometimes left in a better condition than before production takes place.
“In fact,” says Cutler, “should a homeowner agree to it, a production might even provide fresh coats of paint and landscaping improvements.”
With the help of Ontario Creates, and the industry standards for professionalism and maintenance, renting one’s home out to a production is clearly a safe and lucrative experience.
And it can be a fun adventure for the family.
After ex-Raptor Cory Joseph shot a commercial in their home, Franklin’s kids, Charlie and Jordan, were considered extra cool around the schoolyard.
And though Weisdorf and Kanee did not seek out the opportunity on “Chloe,” it was exciting to see their beloved home lit up and immortalized on the silver screen.