What if your house is transformed into a glitzy film set one day, abound with artsy furnishing, props and your favourite stars? While this may be exciting, several risks also exist. Finding overturned settees, broken vases, trampled plants or smeared paintings post the event, would definitely come as a shock. It is hence, advisable to sign a contract beforehand, which clearly states the legal implications in case of any damages to the property.
Mark Butt, who owns a sprawling 40,000 sq ft vintage villa at Saligaon area in north Goa, often gives out his house for film shoots. The 46-year-old, who rented out his house for the movie ‘Singham’ and several smaller advertisements, explains that the pay varies between Rs 50,000 and Rs 1.5 lakhs, per day.
“I have given out my house for film shoots several times. It usually happened via word-of-mouth and there was no written contract signed because I knew the production team well. Although there have been minor damages in some cases, the film team compensated for it,” says Butt.
In case of unknown film companies however, Butt feels that it is better to sign a written contract and seek legal assistance, taking into account all clauses involving loss or damages.
Add damages clause in the contracts
Such contracts should clearly prohibit the parties from making any changes, unless specifically agreed upon by the parties. The film company should also return the house in the condition it was taken and the company should be insured, in case of any eventuality. The contract should also clearly state the duration, for which the film company is allowed use the property and the charges involved, in case of delays/extensions.
Damages are generally of two kinds – damages to the property and damages to the furniture. While damages cannot be completely avoided, people must take preventive measures, insists Rahul Ajatshatru, an advocate at the Bombay High Court.
“The owner must take a hefty security deposit from the film company. After the shooting is completed, the owner should check the entire house, make an estimate of the loss and get back to the film company, with the required charges,” says Ajatshatru.
Contract and its importance
Property owners should ensure that they are legally protected and are able to meet the terms and conditions in the contract.
“A key point to consider, is whether the production company requires sole and exclusive rights to use the property during the specified dates. Then, the landlord could also sue the company for damages, based on the agreement,” says Pooja Dutta, advocate and managing director of Astute Law firm.
Most importantly, the contract signed between the property owner and the film company should be registered.
The agreement should specify the nature of the use and the area of the house allotted for the shoot. “In case the licensee overstays, they could be evicted. All cover charges should be mentioned clearly. While regular wear and tear is accepted, the agreement should provide for any other damage to the property,” says advocate Jay Bhatia.
Points to consider, before giving out your house for film shoots
Registration: The contract between the property owner and the production company should be registered.
Time frame and overstaying: In case the licensee overstays the lease period, they could be evicted.
Cover charges: All cover charges should be mentioned clearly. While regular wear and tear is acceptable, in case of any major damage done to the property, the film company should be made to adequately compensate for it.
Nature of use: The purpose for which the property can be used, should be mentioned clearly, to avoid illegal activities.
Security deposit: Ideally, the owner must take a hefty security deposit from the film company.