Film crews are being put in touch with property owners via a modern web platform with a user interface that is remarkably similar to Airbnb. Owners can earn about R1,200 per hour by listing their homes for use in commercial video shoots. The administration is handled by Filmspace, and Santam provides a host liability guarantee of R1 million.

A website that has been dubbed the “Airbnb of film locations” is now putting commercial video production companies in touch with South African property owners.

Filmspace claims that with over 400 locations now listed in and around Cape Town, along with an impending deployment to hosts in Durban and Johannesburg, it will streamline production and boost profits for both crews and owners.

As per the National Film and Video Foundation, the South African film sector is worth over R12.2 billion, with production accounting for 89% of the market value. The industry is thought to employ 25,000 South Africans.

In addition to growing local production, South Africa has become a popular destination for international productions due to its low production costs and limited red tape.

The global pandemic has adversely affected the film industry, as it has nearly all other economic sectors. This is particularly true of the seasonal trade, which in the hot summer months brings crews from around the world to the Cape. The losses incurred by the hospitality industry, particularly the holiday lodgings like Airbnb rentals, which were prohibited during the three months of hard lockdown, outweighed those incurred by the film industry.

According to Blanche Franken, founder of Filmspace, “Property owners, called hosts, are able to list homes, commercial, studio, and mobile property, all of which has significantly expanded the industry offering.”

Unique automobiles, wineries, residences, mansions, hotels, and more are now available for purchase at significantly lower prices and without the conventional labor-intensive scouting process.

Property owners can list their available spaces on Filmspace, where scouting agents can search for them based on location, price point, and type. The platform serves as the means of communication and agreements between the parties, and Filmspace handles all administrative tasks, including R1 million in host liability insurance underwritten by Santam.

While listing a property on the website is free, Filmspace charges a 15% commission for every successful booking.

According to Franken, hosts are free to set their own prices when listing their properties.

“We typically advise residential property owners to charge two to three times as much as they would when renting out to lodging/travellers and divide that quantity by 12 to get their pay rate on the platform,” the statement reads.

For homeowners who have a second, underutilised property that they are willing to open to film crews, this can be a very profitable deal. Even hosts who must spend the majority of the day away from home have this option.

“For a full 12-hour day, the market rate for renting residential housing is about R14,000. R1,200 approximately per hour,” claims Franken. According to the building type and the needs of the film crews, rates will vary.

“One of the best things about renting to the movie business is you are able to rent your homes for a day and still return home to live there… It’s comforting to know that you are going to rent to professionals in the industry, even if it’s just a spare room or vacation home.

Knowing what film producers are looking for in a location gives property owners an advantage, but according to Franken trends ever are and it’s more about specific elements within the property than it is about the particular home.

Organic spaces (modern futuristic), penthouses, homestead homes, lofts, rooftops, colourful spaces, regular homes, gorgeous kitchens, and open fields are categories we see doing very well.

“It is crucial for hosts to understand that filmmakers only want to use a specific portion of their spaces, so if your space has any special features, you should list them on Filmspace.”