8 location scouting tips from a pro location manager
No matter if you’re shooting photos or videos out of the studio, location scouting is one of the essential steps. Ted Sim from Aputure meets Jeff Shepherd, a veteran location manager and a great professional at his work. Jeff has worked on the shows like Shameless, Parks and Rec, Straight Outta Compton and many others. In this video, he shares his top eight tips for location scouting like a pro.
1. Take professional photos
When scouting locations, keep in mind that every detail counts. So, take professional photos instead of quick smartphone snapshots. They need to be as high-resolution as possible because they can become a part of the storyboarding process.
2. Google the address
Before you shoot on the location, google the address. This way you’ll learn about the real estate info or if the site has ever been in the news. You’ll also find out how iconic the place is based on the number of searches (and it’s harder to film in iconic locations). Sometimes, you’ll even discover some historical facts that can add depth to your story.
3. Utilize the local film office
Smaller towns or historic sites often encourage filming. There’s usually a person whose job is to promote filming in their community – and your job is to find that person and make them your best friend. They could make your location scouting job much easier.
4. Try location websites
5. Go smaller
Shoot with smaller cameras, handheld and with a smaller crew. This way you’ll be able to bypass some permits. The general rule is that you don’t need a permit as long as you don’t set up a tripod and your crow doesn’t count more than three people. Still, make sure to call your local film office and confirm the rules, since they vary from city to city.
6. Use floor protection
You want to make your location clean, so you don’t pay for the additional damage. But, since the floor damage is more common than breaking the furniture, pay particular attention to protecting the floors. Use ram board or carpet protection. You can also place split tennis balls on stands to avoid scratching the floors. Learn more about floor protection on this link.
7. Place your location on hold
You can easily put the location on hold even without paying a deposit or a holding fee. Shepherd points out that he often outs five to ten sites on hold for several months in advance. This way, the creative departments have many options available before they make the decision. Remember, if you do this – make sure to play fair and cancel the locations you won’t use.
8. Use unconventional methods
If for any reason traditional methods of finding locations don’t work for you, try with the untraditional ones. You can find residential or lesser known places on AirBNB or Craigslist, although they’ll sometimes charge the additional fee for the shooting.
These were some of the location scouting tips that could make your life easier and help you scout more successfully. How do you find locations for your photo and video shoots? Which of these methods you use most often? And do you have any additional tips to share?
Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.