The location of your film is actually like another character in the cast, and as such, where you shoot needs to be just right. You may have some specific considerations, but scouting locations for each scene is an important job that needs to be taken very seriously.
Once your script is set, you will need to break it down into scenes and locations. If you are on a budget, a soundstage may be out of reach, but there are many empty and abandoned buildings that can be easily converted to suit your needs. Many cities are even agreeable to renting these for a small fee – buildings like warehouses, closed down banks, empty schools and gyms, abandoned hospitals. The optimal place for your commercial though, is on your business’s property. As long as you have a nice set up, and the feel for your commercial allows you to display your business in the background, you’ll probably want to go with that. It’s also the easiest and most cost effective option.
Your locations need to be character-specific, meaning that they need to match the needs and desires of your characters, so you may want to scout memorable locations that will speak to the nature of the characters in your script, like parks, lakes or the beach, and subways.
A location scout, someone who is skilled in scouting locations and knows the area, is really the best way to go, but if you cannot afford one, a crew member who is happy to make lots of phone calls, drive around, and do internet searches, will do just fine. But be patient. Location scouting is very time consuming, and if you want the perfect locations, you will need to give yourself time to find them.
When assessing a location there are several things to keep in mind.
- Is there enough parking for all your necessary vehicles?
- Are there bathroom facilities?
- Is there a place to set up for feeding cast and crew?
- Is there available electricity or will you need a generator?
- If you are filming away from home, are there enough accommodations, hotels and motels, to suit your budget?
- Is the location going to be quiet and away from trains, airports, and traffic?
- Do you need special permission to shoot there and is it within your budget?
- Is there cell phone service?
- Will you need police to hold traffic?
When location scouting, take a camera with you to take snapshots for cinematographers and crew. Remember that you can shoot interior and exterior shots in different locations. For example, you can shoot a home interior in one place and the exterior of the home with another house.
Soundstages are just that. They keep out all ambient noise. They may not be in your budget, but you can build your own soundstage if necessary, in an abandoned building, using foam and acoustical tiles.
Locations are important elements in films as they set the tone and help the script tell the story. Taking your time to scout the best locations for your project will ensure that all your film’s elements are in sync and that the shooting is a success.