Location scouting is an inevitable part of a film or TV production. It’s one of the most hectic pre-production processes that need to be done smoothly. It involves having the location manager look for physical settings to rent for a film project. The procedure covers visiting many areas, rushing through traffic, and even visiting unknown homes to find that perfect location.
The entire scouting process can get overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time to shoot a film in the Los Angeles area or if it’s your first time to do this job. However, there are a few things you can do to ensure that the scouting process runs successfully.
Here are a few tips when scouting locations for your film project.
- Visit The Location In Person
These days, film-ready locations put up websites to display the areas you can rent for your shoot. They could put all the specs and amenities with photos to boot. But as digital media may not be completely reliable when it comes to seeing a place, it’s always better to inspect an area in person. Whether you’re scouting for a warehouse, a house, or even a forest, visiting the property site in person will not only give you the real picture of the location, but you will sense it better if it’s not a good fit for your film’s story.
When you’re scouting for a location, collect all the crucial information required for your production. Make sure to take notes and cross-check the information with what the script needs and calls for in the location.
While personally visiting locations can be time-consuming and may take a while to get the perfect location, know that it’s part of the process. To make it easier, talk to location scouting companies in Los Angeles that can provide you with a basic list of possible locations to rent. Shortlist your preferred areas, then do an ocular inspection one by one.
- Know The Value Of The Location
Location scouting involves renting places where you can shoot some or many scenes of a film or TV series. Many areas are ready to host such media production work, so some location managers think they already know how much a place would cost.
However, even before visiting any property, make sure to find out how much they’re renting it out for shoots. Knowing the value range of the property will give a clear idea if the price is fair or if there’s any space for negotiation if it’s too expensive for your film budget. Knowing the value beforehand will also give you an idea of how to communicate with the homeowners. You could prepare to offer a package or negotiate for discounts.
- Visit The Location At Different Times Of The Day
From beautiful period homes to modern structures or rooftop venues in Los Angeles, several locations could have a magical effect under particular lighting conditions. Thus, schedule to visit the property you’ve selected at different times of the day. That way, you could have an idea of the color, texture, and mood that the property reflects under varying natural light set-ups. This helps you better understand how the space may look during the production.
Once you’ve sealed the deal on the location, you could also bring the necessary crew members to do a test shoot or deeper site inspections. For instance, the film’s cinematography team needs to be there so they can perform light temperature measurements. The production design team also needs to do a thorough walk-through so they would know how to ‘dress up’ the place according to the specs of the script.
- Discuss All The Logistics With The Homeowners
To ensure that you succeed as a film location scout, make sure to communicate all the logistical details of your production to the LA property owner. As a renter, you should be aware of all the issues you might face while working and discuss them with your host, and you should be honest with them at all times. Never spring new ideas and spur-of-the-moment decisions to the owners, as they could cite you for breach of contract.
Some of the common issues faced during production are shoots lasting more than the hours initially agreed upon, shoots being scheduled outside of the approved dates or time of day, executing stunts and fight scenes bigger and more dangerous than what was initially conveyed, and having too many people on the set. If the property owners are first-timers in renting out spaces for film shoots, a responsible location scout should orient them properly on what happens during a film production shoot, not just discussing the basics of insurance and permits.
- Ask For Permission Before Doing Anything
When visiting a property for your film project, make sure to ask permission for even the smallest things like taking pictures. Ask for a property tour so the host can show you around and point out areas that might be off-limits for the crew. It will also give you time to ask essential questions you may have regarding the location.
When the scouting team is careful of their interaction with the host during the scout, it’s often an indication of professionalism and assures the host that the team is likely to be cautious during the filming. But if the scout team is oblivious of the host’s concerns and insists upon things they want to happen during filming, it’s an indication that the production could border on being unprofessional as the shoot unravels.
Furthermore, even if you’ve already secured the property and the crew needs to make revisions on the spot, always ask for permission first before letting the crew move or remove things and alter anything drastic in the place.
As location scouting requires visits to several locations and may involve dealing with different property owners, it could get a bit overwhelming at first. But knowing the basics and acting professionally would let you pull it off like a pro.
Remember to visit the location you’re scouting in person, discuss the filming logistics honestly with the owners before signing the contract, and relay the filming opportunities and limitations of each location to the various crew departments concerned. Following these simple tips will help you succeed as a film location scout in LA.