November 21, 2017

8 Scouting Tips from a Veteran Location Manager

Every filmmaker wants to find perfect locations to shoot their film, but many are unsure how exactly to go about it.

At the beginning of your filmmaking career, scouting locations might've consisted of asking your buddy if you could crash his apartment for a few days. As time goes on, however, you begin to grow and mature as a budding creative and eventually graduate to more sophisticated methods of procuring locations for your project. I'm talking about in-depth, boots on the ground location scouting, which can, in all honesty, be pretty intimidating at first, but with some practice and exposure can become a fun (and at times frustrating) creative process.

So, what kinds of skills and knowledge do you need in order to get started? Well, Aputure talked with veteran location manager Jeff Shepherd, who has worked on projects like Parks and Rec, Straight Outta Compton, and Shameless, and he shared a ton of tips for fledgling scouts. 

Location scouting is an incredibly vital and laborious phase of pre-production. Scouts essentially find the stage that the director and DP set later on, so knowing what to do and look out for is crucial. Here are Shepherd's tips from the video.

  • Take professional photos of the location so the director and DP can get a better idea of what it offers.
  • Google the address to find potentially useful information about the location.
  • Utilize the local film office, because they will be super helpful at pointing you in the right direction.
  • Try location websites.
  • Go smaller by shooting handheld with a skeleton crew. You may be able to bypass certain permits and requirements.
  • Use floor protection, because there's nothing worse than being a shitty guest.
  • Place your location on hold. Shepherd often puts up to five locations on hold at a time to give the director as many options as possible.
  • Use unconventional methods for finding locations, like Craigslist and Airbnb.

While these tips are incredibly helpful, there's a whole lot more that goes into location scouting. One resource you definitely want to check out is StudioBinder's location scouting checklist, which makes the entire process a whole lot easier.

What are some other tips new location scouts should know about? Let us know down in the comments.      

Your Comment

5 Comments

Lol. When I saw that black and white map image at the top I immediately thought: reminds me of Berlin (area around the central area)...my home town...and - bingo: it IS Berlin! :-D

November 22, 2017 at 7:31AM, Edited November 22, 7:34AM

0
Reply

lol, I was already wondering.
It is clearly not a city I've visited before.

November 22, 2017 at 9:19AM

0
Reply
avatar
WalterBrokx
Director, DOP, Writer, Editor, Producer
9111

I guess I'm autistic... :-D

November 22, 2017 at 10:46AM

0
Reply

2 Weeks ago I was shooting on a wooden floor.
I was setting up a slider on tripods.
First thing I did: tennis balls on the slider feet.
The owner looked at me: "Why?"
"I would be a shitty guest if I scratched your floor. Plus the yellow balls help preventing people tripping over the tripod feet."

November 22, 2017 at 9:21AM, Edited November 22, 9:21AM

0
Reply
avatar
WalterBrokx
Director, DOP, Writer, Editor, Producer
9111

Cool move from you. People, especially film people normally give shit about other's stuff. Especially when they don't have to be afraid to get caught...

November 22, 2017 at 10:47AM, Edited November 22, 10:48AM

0
Reply