Location, Location: How To Scout The Right Venue For Your Film -
Where you choose to set your film has massive implications for the overall feel of the piece, but sourcing a location is easier said than done.
You might be limited on availability to shoot or maybe you’re working with a very tight budget. You’ve also got to consider the logistics, contracts and permits, which can put filmmakers off from shooting in the location they originally wanted.
But all is not lost. In this guide, we’ll go through the best ways to scout the perfect venue for your next film project.
What to consider when scouting a location
There are several things to think about when choosing a location for filming.
Aesthetics: Consider the style of film you’re creating. Does the space match your vision and the descriptions outlined in the script? There are many beautiful venues to choose from, but be sure it fits the style, look and genre of your film before signing on.
Distance and logistics: How far is the location from your main office, and how feasible is it to transport cast, crew and your filming equipment to the set? How easy will it be for you (and the crew) to be able to park? Will there be electrical outlets for equipment, and bathroom and dining facilities throughout the day?
Permissions: Depending on the venue you choose, you may need to get permission or permits to film. You’ll need to speak to the owner first to check that they permit filming, and all permit applications will need to be completed and approved before you can start the project.
Budget: Your project is likely to have a budget, so how well does the venue and location fit into that? Will you need more than one location and how will each one fit into the costs you’ve attributed to venues for the duration of filming?
Environment: Think about natural light and ambient sound. If you’re filming in a dark location or next to a busy road, that could negatively impact your shots.
Break down the script
You need to be sure that you have the right locations for each scene, so breaking down the script from the start will ensure you don’t miss anything. There’s nothing worse than finding the perfect locations, only to realise that you’ve missed a fundamental scene from the script. This step should form part of your pre-production prep so you can organise all the necessary elements needed for a smoother filming process – including the locations and venues you need to film everything. A script breakdown will keep you organised and on track, as well as giving you a clear overview of what’s needed for each scene.
Check location capacities and regulations
When deciding on the ideal setting, assess the capacity to ensure it meets your needs. It’s always better to overestimate than underestimate, because you don’t want to deal with delays on filming day due to regulatory issues. You want to make sure you have plenty of breathing room, not just for the cast and crew, but also anyone else who might show up on the day.
Overestimating your capacity needs will give you the flexibility to change things up on the day without wasting time or money. If a location is large enough, or offers both interior and exterior spaces, check if there is an opportunity to double up. This enables you to maximise your locations’ full permissible quota of people allowed on site. You can film various scenes in one place and possibly, in doing so, even reduce your overall filming budget.
Take photos and notes
It’s easy to forget the details when you’re looking at multiple locations and venues, especially if the process takes you several weeks or months to carry out. So it’s a good idea to take photos, videos and detailed notes when you’re visiting each space so you can keep track of any unique features, surrounding areas that might be of interest, and anything you might need to address in the future if you decide to go ahead with that particular location. It’s also a good idea to look at satellite footage on Google of the location, as there might be airports or schools nearby that could cause an issue with your audio.
Do your research into transportation
Some locations will be perfect on paper but impractical when it comes to filming. You need to be able to park up, with numerous people throughout the day driving in and out, and you will need to be sure there will be spaces when you need them. You don’t want to waste valuable filming time trying to secure a parking spot. When you’re looking for a venue, make sure that parking and transportation needs are met. If they’re not, you may need to reconsider and keep searching.
Time the visit well
You’ll know from your script breakdown what time of day each scene is supposed to be set, so it can be helpful to look at the locations at similar times to when you’ll need to film. This will ensure you have the right lighting, but it will also give you a chance to check what the ambient sound is like at that time of day, so you’re not in for any surprises on the day of filming. It also makes scheduling your filming easier, as you’ll have the information to hand to make better decisions.
Location matters when you’re creating visual content, so whether it’s a short film for advertising purposes, a challenging independent film, or a full-on feature-length production, you want to pay close attention to the venue and surrounding settings before you begin rolling.
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