Do You Need Professional Talent For Upper-end Property Video?

September 27th, 2016

KristineLemannJonathon in Florida asked the following:

I am curious where other photographers that are shooting lifestyle videos get their actors/actresses from?

I am using the Realtors, their friends and my friends for the most part but would like to use professional talent on some bigger projects.

I’ve never been aware of real estate videographers using professional talent. It probably happens but my sense is it’s not very common. This question brings to mind this video by Brett Clements and his crew at shot back in 2008. I believe they won an award as the top Australian property video of the year in 2008. an Australian company based in Sydney, Melbourne, The Gold Coast and Brisbane.

When I first saw this video I was sure the lady in the video was a professional actress. But no, it is Kristine Lehmann, the listing agent for the property being marketed in the video! This is one of my favorite property videos ever. I couldn’t help dragging it out again as an example of what non-professional talent can do.

I think this demonstrates what you can achieve with good writing, great direction, good camera work and Realtors!

Do others use professional talent for their upper-end property video?

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8 Responses to “Do You Need Professional Talent For Upper-end Property Video?”

  • If you are in or near a major city, there will be modeling agencies you can hire people from. Models are not all skinny teenage girls. If there aren’t any agencies, visit the RE agents office and recruit people from there according to the look you are going for (young family, mature single, etc). Legally, there are lots of workplace laws for under 18’s working in TV/Film/photos and they would have to be accompanied by somebody who can sign model releases on their behalf. It’s best to avoid using children unless the client insists and then stick them with hiring them and getting supervision and releases.

    If there is a local college with a drama department, hire some student actors and the instructors as well.

  • What Ken said!

    To add to that:
    In my experience, client budget is the main barrier to using professional models/actors in RE video. Realistically, you’re looking at $300-$1000/day rate per actor depending on their level of talent and scope of work. So we end up using friends etc. Their presence, whether professional actor, drama student or friend of the realtor, certainly adds value to the marketing piece that should not be diminished. I don’t expect anyone to work for free in this very commercial pursuit. Maybe $100-$200 for their time. And always get a signed model release.

    Working with models, pro or not, also requires some real pre-production time and storyboarding to work efficiently. Shooting an empty home with some area lifestyle clips can be shot fairly randomly with almost no pre-production. However, telling a story with humans that has a consistent visual flow and marketing relevance takes shot to shot planning and the ability to direct it on location. It is a totally different production than a standard Property Film with music. The production costs should reflect this, so consider that when the brainstorming begins to be sure all of the extra time and skill being used is covered in the fees.

  • Thank you for posting my question. To put this in context, this is my attempt at lifestyle with actors. The actors are the realtors and their families. I think that when I get into the $2000 and higher priced videos it might look better with professionals.

  • Wow, that’s loud!

  • @terence – Thank you. I am also an audio engineer and with so many people watching on phones and tablets you have to use a different type of multi band compression in order to make it sound clear on those types of devices. You can always turn the volume down but unfortunately there isn’t a “11” on most volume knobs – lol

  • To follow up what Travis said, I agree that pre-production is the key when using people in an RE shoot. Particularly if they are models or anyone other than the actual home-owners.

    If the home-owners are available and willing to be filmed, it’s easier I think in that you can pretty much film them in their house doing their thing. Kitchen / dining / swimming pool type sequences all work well with, in my experience, the best way to capture it authentically being to let them get on with it and just film it from afar, documentary-style. As an aside, try not to shoot too many ‘cheers’ toast sequences, which can look a bit cheesy! Charlie Dresen from Steamboat Springs is the master of this approach in my book – lots of examples of his work on PFRE video comp.

    If using non-owners, my recommendation would be to storyboard the shoot more tightly but to avoid too contrived a ‘story’. Again look at the recent PFRE video comp for examples. For me, some of them have tried too hard to impose a story on the film – a party / event etc.

    Another rule I try to follow when shooting with non-owners is to make the people subsidiary to the property / room where possible. So if you are shooting a gym scene, maybe have the person foreground out of focus lifting weights with just a bicep on show. Or very small in frame surrounded by the equipment in a wide shot. You might see feet go walk over a nice floor or a hand brush a fabric.

    On the subject of ‘real’ models or friends of the realtor, I was lucky enough to shoot with a professional model recently (who happened to be a friend of the property owner) and the difference to shooting with regular ‘joes’ was huge. Having someone who a) looked amazing and b) knew how to take direction made my job much easier!

  • @ Hamish, I came across this video the other day that I felt was a great example of using an owner to help tell the story of a home

  • Thanks Lyndon. What a great film and, as you say, really good use of the owner both in terms of his testimony and the simple but stylish way that he is filmed. Thanks for the pointing it out!

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