LOCATION SCOUTING 101

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Location scouting is a vital process in the pre-production stage of filmmaking and it is a “location scout” who has the specific job of searching for suitable areas for a crew to film. Being in a duo making this film it’s no surprise that we’d each have to take on a wide variety of roles to makes this production happen. Although I direct, and more, I had to play the location scout also. I tested the suitability of locations to the task at hand and took into consideration many factors, such as:

  • overall aesthetics
  • financial cost to production
  • logistic feasibility including but not limited to distance from base of operations or other locations scheduled
  • availability of parking and facilities to keep crew and talent (principal actors or models and extras) safe and dry at all times
  • availability of electrical power or feasibility of bringing in generators for lights and electrical equipment.
  • available light (indoors or outdoors) and weather conditions (outdoors)
  • permission from and cooperation of location owner and neighbours, local government and law enforcement

I had already done a substantial amount of scouting through test shots which you can see in another blog and although the locations weren’t up to the standard I expected or desired, they helped me understand what I needed for the second scene for my film. Having a bright, friendly atmosphere just wouldn’t match the dark, isolated mood of the cinema scene that’s featured before it and so I needed something different.

The difference would occur if we shot the scene at night. I’ve attempted night-test-shots before but not in a suitable location until now. Although we’d be vulnerable to weather conditions, we realised a suitable location for our scene would be a parking area of our school, Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, which takes advantage of an number of factors:

  • Does not interfere with public since it’s in a private area
  • Close to home and the storage of equipment, transport will not be a problem
  • Lit nicely and atmospherically prior to film lights being set
  • Has access to electric supply, if arranged, for lighting equipment
  • Nice area filled with both foliage and industrial backgrounds that’ll suit the scene visually
  • Not near any busy roads so recording unnecessary sound won’t be an issue
  • Arrangements for the location can be done easily and efficiently since we’ll simply have to contact suitable members of staff
  • Vulnerable to rain which is a quality we wanted to create a more intense scene.

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I also checked out the spot at night, getting a high view to look down upon the parking lot below. I did this since this is when we’ll be shooting and so taking a range of photos of this time will give a better understanding of what shoot will look like. The photos and checking out the location first-hand has been very helpful and opened my eyes to the possibilities of the scene. I learned more about the spacing of the area so I could imagine when everything goes such as our dolly for the scene, lights and camera positions.

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