There’s a reason that casting is a big deal for filmmakers. They are the face of the film. However, one crucial aspect that tends to be overlooked, that can make or break your movie, is the place of shooting.
Choosing the location of your film is much more complex than what most people think. Nuance after nuance can come up and quite literally ruin the film from ground up. It’s always better to prepare and find the right spot than to be blindsided at the last minute without a location. Here’s how you can do that and what you should be considering before the shoot.
Back To The Drawing Board–Study Your Script
The scene must be believable. So finding the right locations to adequately encapsulate the scenes are vital. If your main setting takes place on the coast, then somewhere Midwest won’t make sense, no matter how accommodating and affordable it is. Finding the right location to perfectly capture the pivotal moments of each scene has so much to do with the environment you place your cast and crew in.
If you have one location, then it’ll be much easier pinpointing a location for your film. It’s always best to be prepared with as many notes as possible before jumping to the next phase.
Google Your Location
Using the resources available to you, preferably cheap or free, is always ideal. Google, along with any search engine can help eliminate the guesswork out of most projects.
Once you have your location nailed down, you should search for the following:
Hotels or nearby accommodations.
Historical nuggets that could add emphasis to your script.
Pending construction or current projects nearby that could interfere with production.
What the local vibe is; people are always putting their property up for rent when it comes
to shooting a movie. Some towns may have much more attractive offers and proposals.
This may be the most important element to your location endeavors. You want to stay within budget and on time. Time will ultimately impose consequences on your budget and likewise. If you can afford a location scout to take the burden off your shoulders for tedious tasks like paperwork for permits, permission waivers and releases, then obviously it’s a no brainer. Make sure you have a little something left over to afford those local municipal permits.
Planning is something you should do before anything as it is. Write down post-production notes about your budget, a rough estimate of costs for each little task from the cost of running electricity (if the location doesn’t meet your electrical needs), to the cost of lodging.
Miscellaneous Items to Consider
Don’t shoot first: Every town and state is different. You need to get permission. This is
why Googling the location prior to shooting is essential. Find out if there are any special laws or rules to help you save money or paperwork. Look up the laws before breaking one, which will ultimately dent your budget.
Parking space: If you are bringing a team of dedicated cast and crew, you’ll want to make
sure you can fit them in. Check to see if the property has adequate amount of parking and space available for your crew. If not, then you may need to revise your location or inquire about special accommodations.
Do you hear that? Sound is just as key as sight. You’ll want to check the lighting in the
area beforehand, just as you’ll want to ensure that there are no disruptions sound-wise. Is your location near a body of water? Is it near the forest? Does the facility have neighbors? These are all things to consider because each of them make noise.
Size Matters: According to the YouTube channel, Aputure, the size of your crew can
determine how much you may have to pay for permits and other fees. You may be able to cut costs by cutting corners on certain scenes. If a scene can be shot with a GoPro or an IPhone, which could save you a permit, then clearly that is something to consider. That’s why it is fundamental to research the local ordinances and laws of the place you’re planning to locate your film.
If only it was as easy as packing up and driving to the destination. But it doesn’t have to be as trying as one may suspect. Yes, a little elbow grease and perhaps hiring a location manager or a location scout can help ease the production pains that are sure to come your way when shooting your film.
Once you have found the perfect location, keep these things in mind to ensure that your location is a match and your film a success.