Whether it’s Middle Earth or Katz’s Delicatessen in New York, movie locations are as powerful as movie sound tracks. They are the subliminal threads that draw the cinema crowd into the story, pulling each individual into the reality of someone else’s world. What a gift then, to offer your private space and play host to a crew of movie makers.
“It’s like having a party for 50 gate crashers!”
Great conversation opener. We met with Peter Sharp, a man of talent and humour. He fell into location hosting through a knack of always living in intriguing homes, doing bewitching things in his backyard. The first host opportunity came quite literally from a knock on the front door.
‘It was an old house in Abbotsford in the 80’s. My brother and I were living rough as we did the house up. The producer said “When we come to do it, just leave everything as it is today.” But this led to problems because when the Art Department came, they thought the house was derelict and they could knock holes in the walls. I had to be there all day!’
Even though Peter’s first hosting experience was mixed, he has accepted further requests in other houses over the years. Now, in his stunningly authentic, historic premises in Central Victoria he and his partner have people knocking all the time. No need for them to register on the location finder websites where venues of all calibre and degrees of glamour are listed by hopeful owners. Being a host is not all about mixing with stars and having a great time. Hosts are paid and of course the rates depend on the production size, duration of the hosting and other factors.
‘It’s not like Airbnb where you have to move out.’
‘In every case that I have been involved in they have overlooked something… in one case I was able to get things from the shed to rig something up and that saved them coming back again the next day …if they tell you at the start what they are going to do, a host can often make it easier for them. You might have an MSO trombone player next door who practices at 7.00 am every day for 3 hours… doesn’t worry you, cos you’re deaf but it could interfere with their filming!!”
Guess it boils down to briefly slipping outside the creative intensity and taking some time to listen to and respect the host. Dealing with seemingly small, but critical things to the host, like the water situation in a country location, can ensure the host is happy for you to keep on filming. Imagine being asked to leave the location when you have half the production in the can. Include the host in your location planning pre, post and on the day.
Why be Location Host?
So, after so many varied experiences, would Peter recommend being a location host?
‘You learn a bit about how long it takes to shoot just one scene… it’s a good learning experience. You meet some wacky people, there’s a lot of fun in it … but it is a bit like giving a party for gate crashers.’
“Make sure that you are going to receive a really adequate fee for what you are providing. That is the essential thing for both parties. If the host is very happy with the fee arrangement, then the inevitable changes will be accepted and the crew will get a good result”
Words: Linda Carr