LOCATION SCOUTING FOR YOUR FILM
“Are we there yet?”
Hopefully you have followed the inception part of this guide to a “T” and have written wisely. The locations you have chosen for your film are simple, minimal and easily accessible.
If you have awesome locations already, good for you! If you do not, don’t fret, negotiating with people for the good of art and film can be easier then you think. Don’t get me wrong, you may get some no’s but don’t let that stop you from asking. Ideally you are looking for somewhere where you will have the freedom and the time to get in and shoot your film without distractions or putting anyone out.
Before you head out in search of your perfect locations. Make a list of each one, and then search for as many possible places that may be suitable for your needs. The more possibilities the better; map out your options, so you can be efficient when traveling from one location to the next.
If it is a business you are going into, think about their hours of operation, if it is someone’s home, understand their schedules and whether or not they are accommodating to your needs, DAY, NIGHT, etc.
It would behoove you to give each place a call and find out when a manager will be in and what times are best to come say hello. But, don’t be afraid to just walk in. If you see a place that you are interested in “knock on the door”, you can’t miss if you don’t swing!
Make sure you bring a camera and take as many pictures as possible, shoot some video to get a feel for the space, make sure that all aspect of the location are suitable for filming – Safety, Sound, Permits etc… and always be courteous and make sure you ask permission first. ALWAYS be respectful, and NEVER act like you own the place.
If you are shooting exteriors in town and are going to be obstructing any sidewalks or streets, you will need to obtain a permit and police depending on the size of your crew. If it’s just a core crew, a sound guy, the actors, camera and your 1st AD you should be fine in public places, but check with your local film commission or city hall to be sure. If you have any students on your crew you may be able to obtain permits for free, but will usually need to hire police to block streets, but that means $.
Whether it is a business owner, a homeowner, or city official, you are going to need to pitch them on your project, make them feel comfortable and excited about the project itself. Be professional and let them know that they may get to be a part of it!!! Sell them on the idea, and your passion for it. This is no different then securing cast and crew, your locations are also characters in your script so do your best to secure locations that fit the script and lend themselves best to your cinematic desires.
Once you have an agreement make sure you get it in writing. Have them sign a letter of intent, and a final contract once you have finished scheduling.
(*I am not saying you should do this, I’m just putting it out there!)
Lets say you can’t get permission to shoot somewhere, but you really need to shoot in say a grocery store that would cost you too much money. Well, the beautiful thing about DSLR’s, GoPro’s, and iphone’s is that they can be disguised. Put lovelier on you actors and keep your sound guy in close vicinity. Just be nonchalant about it. Get what you need quick and get out!