5 Tricks to Location Scouting
Location, Location, Location.
A well thought out location can make quite a difference in the filmmaking process being a great stress or a great pleasure.
1. Create a good relationship. Be accommodating to your host. Typically if you're willing to work with them, they're more willing to go out of their way for you. This of course is also affected by payment; if this is a place that's typically filmed in and you are paying a full rate, expect professionalism and service from the location owner, but if this location is not typically used for filming, take the time to explain and answer any questions the host may have! Helping them understand your needs ahead of time will help eliminate issues the day of filming. Also, if you don't usually, smile!
2. Get the most info possible. Once you've created a comfortable connection with the person in charge of your location, get all the info you can think of! Nothing is a dumb question, because the worst thing you can do is assume you're on the same page and then be wrong. Here are some things to ask;
- What's the parking situation?
- What's the earliest we can get there and the latest we can stay?
- What can our crew/talent have access to? (bathrooms, areas to eat, etc)
- Is anything else happening when we're there?
- Anything nearby that can affect audio? (Highways, Airports, Trains, Children, etc)
3. Try AirBnB.com. Production is constantly getting sleeker and finding new ways to go about traditional tasks should always be considered. We've started using AirBnB to find locations for filming and have had great repsponses. Many times people are actually excited to have something filmed in their home! Let them watch! Many times the host will become so excited they will be willing to help with anything you need.
Our basic process at The Union Productions is to message the Host and ask if they're ok with using their rental for filming. We say that we'll pay the rate for an overnight stay, but won't be sleeping there (unless it's a travelling shoot, during which we'll try to film and stay at the same location!). We've had great success with this approach.
4. Check out your local film office. Here in Connecticut we have a department of film that provides a free listing of film locations in the state, as well as several people you can call/email to help you search that database. Search your area, or the area your plan to film in for government resources that encourage filming, many states have sites like this one for CT: Department of Film
5. Have your insurance ready. Some places you'll try to film will require a certificate of insurance (COI) such as a studio, an active business, a rented space, etc. This basically places liability on you, rather than the owner of the location. You can be ready for this by letting your insurance company know ahead of time that you will have a need for COIs. Sometimes knowing this, the company will set up your insurance somewhat different to make this process easier (I have no idea how it's different, but that's what my insurance guys says).
Have some other tips or tricks for working with or finding good locations? I would love to hear about them in the comments below!