For broker Ben Bacal, selling multimillion-dollar homes demands more than taking a few photos. It requires filming a Hollywood-ready video for as much as $50,000.
“You really have to step it up, because there’s so many of these modern mansions,” he said. “To get eyeballs, you have to do something different to flip the script and get people to talk.”
One of Bacal’s latest promotions is an 11-minute video that creates a fictional backstory for why a sleek Hollywood Hills home is on the market. But there’s a twist: While the video depicts the breakup of its residents, the roles are played by the happily married owners.
Husband Ori Ayonmike, who designed the house, paces hallways, pulls a carafe of liquor from a closet and operates the high-tech lighting before telling his wife, Nafisa: “I want a divorce.” She fetches wine from the cellar, lounges at the pool and flings her wedding ring into the water.
The third star is the $4.5 million house, as the camera lingers on details from light switches to fireplaces to all-white flooring.
Bacal, who attended film school and used to work in film production, said the two-day shoot, produced by Koreatown’s Rafiki Creative, set him back $20,000 but delivered quick results. Within a week of posting the video to his social media accounts, he had scheduled five showings and even pop star Justin Bieber registered his interest in learning more.
Bacal also recently gave a $48.5 million Bel Air mansion its own video, creating a story around a couple of kids who fake illness and spend the day making good use of the home’s amenities – golf on the lawn, dress-up in the closets as well as movies and popcorn in the screening room.
Both projects play into Bacal’s next business endeavor, Roofshoot, for which he said he has raised $2.5 million so far and aims to launch in the next couple of months. The Internet company will provide a website and app to help real estate brokers create their own home videos as well as a platform to promote them on.
“My peers have to be ushered into the digital world in a cost-effective way,” said Bacal, adding that homes at all price levels benefit from videos, even ones filmed on a smartphone. But only the megaproperties – $30 million or more – demand the full treatment.
“You’ve really got to make sure the production value is clever,” he said. “It can’t be cheesy and has to be really well produced. You have to pull all the stops out.”
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