When you take a look at a few of the blog posts on this site, what's the first topic you consistently see?
That's right: weddings. Estate weddings at that. (Captain Obvious, anyone?)
But the fascinating thing about estates is that they're not limited to just weddings. In fact, their rich histories and luxurious settings are often some of the most compelling reasons to use estates for other needs, like as filming locations.
Those gorgeous mansions in your favorite films aren't always just a fake set on a Hollywood lot. Many of them are real, with full-scale productions taking place in their halls and rooms on a yearly basis.
So if you're in the business of making films, and your script calls for a unique, grand, or historical filming location, an estate may be one of your best options. Here's why:
1. Estates have tons of space.
Most movies that require beautiful old mansions are also going to require lots of room to maneuver and lots of different areas to film in.
Fortunately, estates are perfectly cut out for this. They contain thousands of feet of space, both indoor and outdoor. Rooms are usually decorated in different styles or colors so that you have lots of areas to work with and don't need to worry about using one room for multiple purposes (you're no longer on a Hollywood lot here, remember!)
For example, the Valentino Estate sits on over 16 acres of land, which includes not just the estate but the riding trails, lake, and rose garden. In a setting like this, you could easily film a romance or family drama.
2. They're easier to get a hold of than you might think (depending on location).
Most people think that it's difficult to step foot onto estate grounds unless you're taking a tour. But this isn't always true.
When you're filming a movie, estates can be one of the easiest places to get a hold of and access. If you're stuck to a specific timeline and filming schedule, you may find that these venues are more readily available than booking a film lot or other popular locations.
Sure, you'll need to double-check your dates, fill out permits, and deal with other legal paperwork, but for the most part estate owners or heritage organizations are more than happy to work with your schedule so you can film on their property.
3. They can double as your production's headquarters.
Point #1 talked about all the space you can get when you film at an estate. But you can use it for other purposes, too!
Any estate or mansion you film at can have a room or two set aside for your production's behind-the-scenes needs. You could have a break room for the acting talent and crew, as well as a main office where production meetings are held and files are stored until the film's a wrap.
If you're working on an independent film, for example, using your estate as both your filming location and production headquarters makes everything simpler and more organized than trying to make sure everyone's going to the different places they need to be.
4. Estates are already themed/decorated.
One of the more expensive aspects of shooting a movie can be set dressing and design, especially when your film calls for grand, luxurious settings.
But with an estate or mansion, a lot of this work is already done for you. Many of these locations have their own decorations and interior design work that stays up permanently throughout the year, and on-hand staff can help you with removing and adding other needed items.
For example, if your film calls for elaborate French-inspired rooms, try out the Chateau de Beverly Hills. Or if you need to set your outdoor shots outside a castle, you can use the Highlands Castle in New York instead of actually heading all the way to Ireland or Scotland.
5. They can save you the cost of transferring to various filming locations.
As some of the previous points mentioned, having lots of different filming locations can not only be messy, but costly.
When your production is on a tight budget and all you need is one big setting, it's a good idea to consider investing in an estate. After all, not every film maker has the funds like Peter Jackson did to film Lord of the Rings all over New Zealand.
But just because you don't have millions of dollars doesn't mean you can't produce an incredible-looking movie. The perfect estate can give you a grand feeling for far less than you'd have to pay driving around to various filming locations.
When most people think of estates and mansions, they generally don't realize that these properties are used for anything more than personal residences, museums, or weddings, even though they see them in films all the time.
But estates are frequently used as filming locations by filmmakers. If you're one of them, there's no reason not to consider these venues when you want your film's setting to contribute a unique feel to the final product.
Have you ever filmed in an estate before? How was the experience? Let us know in the comments!