The homes — three in Woodland Hills, two in Reseda and one in Northridge — are part of the growing young company 818 Movie Locations, named after the Valley's area code. Practically every production company that makes movies in the L.A. area has availed itself of these locations at one time or another, and many have come back again and again.
The secret to 818 Movie Locations' success is its business ethic.
"They always have everything you need there, and there's someone there to take care of everything," explains Travis Nestor, production manager for Zero Tolerance, a production company that already has made dozens of movies at these locations. "They handle talent great, and they have every permit and business license you can imagine. They really run a legitimate company."
The professional behind this professionalism is Kervian, owner and president of 818 Movie Locations. A longtime real estate broker, he decided to get into the movie location business two years ago when he posted one of his properties on the Internet.
"I owned a number of homes," Kervian remembers. "I decided to advertise one of my houses for a movie location, and someone from First Talent Management got me involved in adult films]. We started doing business for three or four months, and I kept building it. I sold my smaller homes and bought bigger ones for movies."
Although the new company immediately began to book producers and directors into its venue, things didn't proceed without hitches during those first few months. There was a falling out with First Talent, which led to a nasty episode that resulted in a police visit during a shoot.
"Somebody in our business called [the police] and complained about me," Kervian explains. "That was the only time the police came to one of my homes. The police told me what I needed to get done and where to get it. They were really good."
After learning about permits and licenses, Kervian began to branch out with additional homes offered solely as movie locations. He says the most difficult initial challenge was "getting in contact with directors and getting people to trust me, because no one knew who I was at first," Kervian recalls. "Eventually they learned to trust me, and the business started coming. It will continue to come because I do whatever is necessary to make the location good for shooting."
And what exactly does that entail? As a production manager, it's Travis Nestor's job to know.
"The homes are always furnished," Nestor points out, "and Kerv is always upgrading them to make sure they look different. They're clean. A lot of times, you go to a location and it's not the cleanest place. A lot of times, homeowners don't upgrade the house. Sometimes they've moved a couple of years ago and haven't made any improvements. The photos on their website make the house look great, but when you get there, the couch has a big dog stain on it, or the floors are dirty and the laundry is not put away.
"The 818 Movie guys don't live in their locations, so you don't get that used-home kind of feel. A lot of times when you work in a home where people live, you have to work between their hours because they have children. So you can only shoot between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. while the kids are in school. With 818, you can take your time because no one is going to be rushing in on top of you. There's no nanny making dinner in the kitchen or doing laundry while you're trying to shoot."
It's no accident that the 818 Movie Locations properties are so production-friendly. Kervian spends a good deal of money making sure of it.
"I furnish the homes with custom furniture," he says. "Normally, the furniture you buy from the store sinks and has to be adjusted. Now I have my furniture made specially to make it firm, so you never sink and always have good [photographic] angles to shoot.
"I keep changing the furniture and the designs, too, so it won't look the same in every movie. I use seat covers that can be changed, so we can make things look different for every scene. I have a cleaning crew that cleans up after every shoot. I like a clean place."
Kervian also upgrades the electrical output of the homes when necessary, in order to support the substantial power needs of production equipment.
"I put in a lot of money, but it's a business," he reveals. "Any business you run, you have to spend. I just want to make sure that when you come to one of my homes, you'll come back a second time and a third time. So I'll do what it takes to get to that level."
One of the prime concerns about a movie location — particularly when it's situated in a residential neighborhood — is parking, and Kervian makes that a priority when buying 818 Movie properties.
"I keep all the cars off the street by setting up parking in the yard," he says. "Parking is important when I choose a house. In fact, the main thing I look for is parking. When I look at a lot, I try to figure whether I can remove some trees and make more room for parking."
In fact, the parking situation has led to some unintended humor for visiting production crews and talent.
"There's one house that has a whole bunch of poles to protect the lawn," Nestor says. "So it's great to sit there and watch porno chicks in their really expensive Mercedes try to navigate the poles. Every now and then, you hear a crunch. Usually, it's when they're leaving, so it's not that bad for us."
Kervian's passion for parking is based on the golden rule for all adult movie locations that are in residential areas: don't annoy the neighbors. Keeping a good relationship with nearby residents is one of the top items on Kervian's list of priorities.
"You have to be respectful of the neighbors," he insists. "They know what's going on, so I make sure everything is low key. The houses have gates and bushes, so if someone wanted to see what's going on, they'd have to go far out of their way to do it.
They would have to break and enter past the gates, and that's why I always have somebody on set to take care of that. The key is privacy." Kervian also makes sure to keep the action indoors.
"I try not to allow them [film crews] to shoot any sex in the back yard because, even though it's private, I don't want to make any noise," he says.
Establishing rapport with the neighbors helps shoots run smoothly, and though he doesn't always tell them what's going on outright, Kervian is sure to cover his bases.
"I don't go out of my way to meet the neighbors, but if I see them, I say hello," he says. "They'll see people going in and out, and eventually they'll figure out that it's porn, but they don't say anything. Sometimes I'll just tell them what's going on. I also tell them that if they ever have an issue, to please call me first."
Obviously, this policy is working, because — outside of the incident in which 818 was victimized by an inside snitch — the police never have appeared at any of the homes. According to Kervian, police simply call the main 818 office to learn whether a house has the necessary permits, and leave it at that.
"Kerv makes sure he has all the proper permits and licenses," Nestor adds, "so we've never had a problem with the police."
Another reason why 818 Movie Locations is growing so rapidly involves the ease with which production companies can book a house.
"Some companies never call you back," Nestor explains. "You keep calling and calling, and it just gets to the point that your shoot gets held up because you don't have a location. Kerv always calls you back within a couple of hours."
"My phone is next to me all the time," Kervian says. "They call and give me a date that they want to shoot. I check my calendar and let them know what's available. If they like what's available, then they book it. I have everything computerized, so there is never an issue. At times you have cancellations, and other times somebody may want to switch a location, but once you communicate with each other, it's easy."
Another draw for producers is the sensible fee that 818 charges. "We pay $100 an hour," reveals Nestor of Zero Tolerance's fee. "And they're available 24 hours a day. Some of the higher-end locations can get really expensive, but 818 is really fair. You can either book it by the day or by the hour, but we do it by the hour because that's most cost-effective for us. We've never gone over eight hours."
Kervian explains his fees as an extension of common business sense.
"For me it's a long-term business, so it's important to make it price-reasonable so that I can keep getting that long term business," he adds.
Aside from fair prices, the only other anomaly about 818 Movie Locations is its lawns. According to Nestor, Kervian is "anal" about his properties' landscaping.
"At the end of the day, it's still real estate," Kervian explains. "Locations can only be used for so long, so I always keep in mind that I have to sell that house at some time in the future. So I like to keep it nice. I like to drive up to a home and see that it looks beautiful. It's also important because there are times when directors want to do a shoot in front on the lawn with performers walking up to the house. They want it to look good, so I always take special care, and make sure the gardeners do a good job."
The fact that all of the homes are located in the San Fernando Valley — the three in Woodland Hills are actually adjoining properties — has another advantage for producers.
"All the talent knows where the houses are," Nestor says, "so you don't have to worry about them not showing up. They can't play the whole, 'I got lost' game with you."
And so where does 818 Movie Locations go from here? Kervian has plans to expand, buying more homes with movies in mind. As a busy broker, he sees many properties and knows exactly what to look for, now that he has a couple of years' experience under his belt. He intends to stay in adult entertainment for years to come.
"I feel I'm part of the industry," he says of adult, "and I'm going to do what it takes to make it go well. I know a lot of homes have been busted, and I don't want that to happen to my homes. I want to do whatever it takes to provide security, so that whoever uses my houses feels there is nothing to worry about.
"It's work, but I love doing it. I'm busy, but at the same time, it's fun."