Location scouting has two sides - providing a place to shoot and providing information on the shooting parameters...
Finding a location for a shoot is difficult, especially as it it usually has to be dome at an early stage in the process so that it can be built into the creative and budget. There are many ways to do it. On a corporate shoot for a startup, for example, there often is no budget for a location rental and build, so we have to find a space that matches the style of the product or service being marketed – which is often the office space of the company or the home of one of the team simply because they can be made available.
With a larger budget or a more involved concept we have the opportunity to pick spaces that are more camera friendly and need less dressing. We can access databases of homes, business, public facilities and open spaces in many cities. We can use our own knowledge of places we have shot before or been to, and that of our client. We can bring in a location search specialist in many areas. And we can advertise and go to social media to find a suitable place… the Internet is a best friend in these searches.
Finding the location is only half of the job – the other half is providing opinion and details for the actual shooting, to provide to the Director, Producer and Production Manager and Director of Photography. We do this from personal experience, and are able to say “this is how I would shoot this sort of scene here, and this is the specification that I would suggest, with these limitations”. We also take a mass of photos that have embedded information with them, providing the time of day, the exact GPS location of the camera, the compass setting of which way the camera was facing, the sun position and a guide as to where the sun will be throughout the day. If we need to get more detailed we will provide technical plans of the space, showing things like power outputs and fuseboxes plus loadings, ceiling heights and existing light positions, access for parking and loading, restrictions on time and space and so on…
The goal is to find the right space and to provide the right information so that the team know exactly what gear has to be used, and what are the positives and negatives of shooting at different times of the day and the year.
Sometimes this is seen as an unnecessary budget item by clients, particularly when we are shooting a small budget corporate or non-profit at a client’s location. But the aim on any project is to be able to turn up with a crew and start setting up and shooting straight away. If we have already worked out where we will shoot, removed items that may be in the way and dressed the area, found out how the equipment will get into the space, discovered where the power is, and worked out each shot composition in advance then we are able to do this, rather than paying for a crew and gear to sit around while we make these discoveries and potentially push the project into costly overtime!