The quilts in this post were among those purchased by Ozark to be featured in Season 3. Look out for them!
This post is part of a series, How I Got That Gig, in which we ask craft industry professionals to tell us the story behind a great commission, job, freelance opportunity, or contract. Read other stories in this series from Lib’s Elliott, Erin Weisbart, Jennifer Perkins, Amy Friend, and Heather Grant. If you have a good story to tell about a gig of your own, or would like us to reach out someone else who has a great gig, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who makes the quilts you see on tv? This is a question I had often asked myself when I spied a beautiful quilt in the background of my favorite show. A quilter can recognize fabrics and block patterns and we know when we’ve spotted something that’s not mass-produced. I came to discover the answer in a serendipitous moment!
In early May of this year, I stumbled upon an odd post on my Facebook feed. In my local quilt guild’s Facebook group was a request from someone looking to rent quilts for use in a tv show. I live in metro Atlanta where many television series and movies are filmed. No details were given, just an email address if you were interested in more information. I thought, wow, how crazy that this was just on my mind!
I immediately sent an inquiry and an assistant to the set designer replied and asked me to send pictures of any quilts I had, the more the better. They needed to rent 10 quilts in total and wanted to have a large pool to find what they were looking for. Her only request was not to send any pictures of family heirlooms or special quilts that I would not want to be handled.
I decided to send pictures of whatever I had on hand that I was okay with being used. This ended up being nine pieces in a range of sizes and conditions, including two quilt tops. As I’ve come to realize is common among creatives, I got a sudden burst of anxiety as I finished preparing the submission. Do I want to do this? What if they don’t want any of my quilts? My wise husband reminded me – but what if they do! I had nothing to lose except for the regret of a missed opportunity.
The assistant replied to my submission with thanks and asked if I could send her my rental fees per quilt and let me know that they would be in touch either way once the set designer sat down to go through the quilts submitted. After reading this email I realized I had no idea what to reply. I did not have a rental fee. I knew nothing about this industry!
I spent some time googling and quickly discovered that there was not a lot of information about renting your art for tv use. I stumbled upon a few prop houses but the fees were varied and confusing and the condition of the prop quilts was not the same as what I was submitting. Many were just store-bought comforters.
I didn’t want to undervalue myself. After consulting with a group of professional peers who also had no idea, I realized that this was not a moment that I wanted to ‘fake it till I make it’. I replied to the assistant with honesty that, as unprofessional as it may seem, I had no idea what to charge for a rental fee. I instead gave her the value of each quilt based on the size and condition as if I were to list them in my online shop.
The Rental Fee
She was a wonderful point of contact for this process and explained how the rental industry worked for film and television. She shared that it could vary greatly based on the budget of the film or show that the item was to be used for as well as the importance to the scene that was being filmed. In general, prop houses rent at 10-25% the value of the item per week which can taper off as the weeks go so as not to exceed the overall value of the item.
It turned out that sending a price list was very helpful for them to have in advance as they would need that anyway if they chose my quilts in case something went missing or was damaged during filming. In that worst-case scenario, there would be loss and damage and they would pay me the value of the quilt. The set they were filming was only shooting for one day, so any quilts chosen would be rented for the standard minimum of one week.
I was shocked when I received a reply a few days later that the set designer had selected seven of my pieces and wanted to discuss the possibility of purchasing instead of renting. They chose two mini quilts, two quilt tops, and three finished throw size quilts. The budget for two of the quilts was a total of $400 less than my listed value, so they gave me time to decide if I was willing to sell them and if not, they would go the rental route instead.
I decided that if all seven quilts were purchased together as a collection, I would be willing to discount them. Though there is always a risk that a scene could be cut from the final editing, I felt that the potential value for my portfolio and as a life experience was worth more than $400. They accepted my offer and the quilts were filmed at the end of May as part of the set dressing for Season 3 of the Netflix series Ozark!
Lindsey Rhodes is an Atlanta based pattern designer and sewing teacher. She taught herself to sew at the age of 16 after inheriting an old Singer sewing machine. Her Grandmother had written her name on the underside and that small gesture has sparked a love of sewing, quilting and pattern design. Her work has been featured in Modern Baby by That Patchwork Place, American Quilter, Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks , Buzzfeed and Apartment Therapy. You can follow her creative pursuits at www.lrstitched.com or on Instagram @lrstitched