15 tips for scouting film locations
All kinds of preparations are necessary for film making. Getting the script down is probably the most critical part, but other aspects will bring the script to life. From actors, costumes, and music, film making is a multifaceted art form that requires an extreme eye to detail.
One of these critical aspects to consider is the location. Choosing locations is all about building the world in which the characters and the events are real. It might sound complicated, but only if you’re unsure about the vision of the film. It’s practical to assign teams to different responsibilities, including scouting for film locations. However, keep in mind that all teams or the entire crew should have a united vision of the film.
In terms of a believable world for the script, The Crown’s filming locations are gorgeous and fitting. It’s extraordinarily done. But if you consider how actual events inspire the writing, it’s even more astounding, especially if you watch scenes from the series and real footage side by side.
Nonetheless, there are simple tips and steps that you can take and keep in mind when deciding on the locations. Here are some ways you can inspect the perfect place for your film:
- Mastery of the script
Before you go exploring venues, you must sit down and read the script. And it’s not enough to just read the script, and you have to master it from top to bottom. Understand the essence of the story. Imagination will get you a long way here. Break down the script and take a look at different settings that you’ll need to find. It’s also imperative to note down all the details of each scene and setting. Specifics such as time, weather, and the season will matter when looking for the right location.
- Communicate with the crew
There will be meetings for the whole crew where you’ll be speaking about settings and locations. Clarifying the vision of the writer, location manager, and even the director will be fantastic. You can even give your opinions and see how well it fits with the film’s overall concept.
- Sourcing locations
The location manager will be in charge of researching possible locations. These areas are usually found in real estate and film location services such as HD Buttercup Location Services.
- Scout the locations
The scout or the location manager will go to the possible locations to see and check the places. It’s necessary to have your notes to ensure that these areas will work correctly for the script. Aside from going through the checklist, it’s also important to jot down notes about each site. Taking photos or videos will also be necessary when you report back to the crew.
- Does it match the vision?
Once you’re there, ask yourself if the place matches the vision of the film. Will it help in worldbuilding and storytelling? Always keep in mind if the location serves the script. One great example of a site that perfectly matches the writing and story is The Lighthouse. It’s not just visually appealing, and it also sets the atmosphere and tone incredibly.
- Going at the right time
Coordinate with the shooting schedule and scout in the said locations at the exact time shooting will be done. This way, you can see if the conditions will be perfect for the scene.
- Correct light
Filming requires fantastic lighting, whether it’s natural or artificial. Outdoors, lighting can depend on the weather and climate. But if the venue is indoors, like a church or a restaurant, there will be some lighting limitations.
- Observe the sun
As mentioned, outdoor locations will depend on the season or weather conditions. It’s important to note if the area is in full shade, partial sun, or full sun. Even the sunlight can affect the shots, so be sure to keep this in mind.
- Interruption from sound
Shooting can be disrupted by unwanted sound. If there are ambient sounds, make sure that it doesn’t get in the way of filming. Again, some ambient sounds might be helpful to the script, or it may be interrupting the shoot, thus, understanding of the settings to be shot in those areas will be vital. Overall, it’s best to go for a quiet location.
- Right distance
Another critical consideration is distance. It should be possible for the crew and the equipment to get to that location without any hitch and delays in the filming schedule.
- Logistics and practicality
To make the process as easy as possible and avoid any setbacks, pick a location with everything the crew needs. This can be electrical sources, parking, bathrooms, cell reception, and extra spaces.
- Does it fit the budget?
These areas are likely to come at a cost, and each filming project has a limited budget. Negotiating skills will come in handy here!
- Report back to the team
Again, reporting back to the director, production designer, and director of photography should be done so they can listen to how the scouting went. They’ll take a look at the reports and photos and your overall take on how good these locations are for the project.
- Going back to the locations
To ensure that the areas are perfect, the director, production designer, and director of photography will also go to the locations to give the final approval.
- Get permission
You’ll need to secure permits for the locations to ensure that you’re legally allowed to shoot there. As you know, filming can get in the way of traffic or other people’s daily lives, so be sure to ask for permission. If you don’t get the green light, it’s best to look into another location instead.
Overall, scouting for the perfect filming location requires an artistic eye and tight coordination. You need to consider all types of elements, such as weather, lighting, sound, and convenience. It can be tricky to find the right spot that ticks all the boxes in your checklist and make sure that it fits your budget! It might sound like a challenging task, but preparing each detail before shooting is an essential responsibility for any film project.