Location Filming & Commercial Photography in NEBRASKA

WELCOME and thank you for visiting…  Information here is about budgeted film production and commercial photography in Nebraska and western Iowa.

We are interested in collaborating with you.

There are MANY locations available throughout this very large State. Most you are already assuming (gotcha) but there are plenty of surprises too.Location scouting on any given project is unique. Elements include: vision, budget, size of crew, logistics, travel, schedule, etc. *Screen Shot 2017-09-18 at 10.59.08 AMHappy to help with answers. If your project is green-lit and fast-tracked—reach out ASAP for fast answers NebraskaLocation@gmail.com* Location information here is based on professional filmmaking and commercial photography. These processes encourage standards as permission to shoot on private property, location fees, insurance, safety, and legal logistics. 

 

Site curated by Jamie Vesay, experienced Locations Scout/Manager and often Creative Producer. An industry professional for 25 years.

 

Health & Safety Lessons from a Pig Shoot

DISCLAIMER: This post is not about how we should shoot (anything) again within Covid-19 guidelines. I present the information below from point-of-reference health and safety experiences on past shoots at commercial hog barns – long before the pandemic. Many of these actions parallel current discussions about establishing new universal on-set guidelines.

I’ll never forget my first creative call with an Agency about an upcoming shoot—at a hog facility—and that moment near the end of their long list of guidelines, “…and the crew will need to shower in and shower out. The location will provide inside clothes, boots —and underwear. It’s all for the safety of the animals.” I silently paused, raised an eyebrow, and may or may not have muted the speakerphone, “Ok. Nobody on another hog (pig) shoot or their equipment less than two weeks prior to our shoot. Clean gear ahead of time. If any of the crew is sick they shouldn’t be on set. The PPE is for the pigs. And — underwear?”

You see, out here in farmland USA, us production people who collaborate with agricultural-related clients often find ourselves in wacky scenarios — while addressing health protocols and taking safety steps specific to the product, service, and / or location.

A commercial hog facility and the land around it are biosecure locations. Many basic shoot procedures and crew positions are eliminated by default. The biggest adjustment is pace of work. Imagine any set you’ve been on but moving methodically SLOW.

This type of shoot is different from the moment you arrive at location. You get to park but DO NOT GET OUT OF YOUR VEHICLE until met by a Location Rep. They give you shoe protectors (plastic booties) BEFORE YOU STEP OUT and the instructions to cover your shoes are precise. After you have the covers, open your vehicle’s door BUT STILL DON’T STEP OUT unless the cover is over your shoe. DO NOT PUT THE COVERS ON INSIDE YOUR VEHICLE. The idea here is for no strange surface material to touch the biosecure surface. Only when shoe-covers are on should you move on to the property (still guided). This is one list of guidelines for one procedure. Keep in mind, we’re not even near the front door yet.

  • No pressure, but hogs are high-risk to catch infections. If one animal gets sick, they can infect the entire facility.
  • Hogs can get a virus from people and vice versa.
  • Hog shoots require more pre-production discussions and a different type of scheduling IF you want to attain any storyboard and shot list.
  • You’re at the mercy of the protocols and process.  Again, everything is slower than usual.
  • Gear doesn’t touch the ground on load-in but there is another phase of wiping it down before crossing into the pens.
  • The only way to walk inside is through the shower stall. Yes, it is a thing. Your clothes and shoes with those covers on stay behind in the entryway. You use their clothes (jumpsuit or Tyvek suit) – including socks and underwear.
  • On a shoot last year, we were permitted to keep our own underwear; which was welcomed. Yes, it is very strange. And by the way if there’s a mix of sexes on the crew; whole other discussions are required in pre-production.

Once inside the pens, us pros dab Vicks vapor rub under our nose. You know, like pre-autopsy you’ve seen in movies. Prior to your mind conjuring the stereotypical image of a pig pen, know they are way cleaner than you’d think. Before you get to to shoot anything in a hog facility, there’s a brief walk-through / mini tech-scout because – this is the first time seeing the space.

  • Hogs are the talent who happen to live at the location but you still have to “cast principals.”
  • If shooting humans – such as Livestock Producers (their proper title) or employees or veterinarians – they also come with the location but you’ll be seeing them for the first time too.
  • Livestock Producers and Farmers are great collaborators and some of the kindest, hard-working humans on the planet.
  • When meet-and-greets are complete, vanity checks (for pigs and people) done, final misc. prepped, the shoot begins…

After a few set-ups and shots are captured; the crew, client, and pigs get comfortable working with each other. This is a job and hey we’re professionals but like all properly pre-produced shoots, you can work hard and still have fun, learn new things, interact with curious animals, and smile at some of the things we get paid to do for a living.

When wrap is called, figure at least one hour to repeat your steps just to get back to the door. This process is SLOWED further to clean gear (pro tip: less of anything with cords = good). Beyond the shower stall, getting dressed, loading up gear, and driving away – there’s still a bit of work to do. You should shower again asap — and launder your clothes. If you’re at a hotel, do the former and bag your pig clothes and throw them in the production vehicle.

Ok, done for the day. Your title on the shoot will reflect your next project-related tasks but one thing not on your calendar for the next two weeks is shooting in another hog facility. It’s yet another guideline and health measure—for the hogs. Need more irony? Our clients on these shoots make vaccine for livestock. We shoot them getting their shots.

Before I go, a few more related side bars about these newly suggested Covid-19 guidelines:

  • You touch your face 100 more times more while wearing a MASK versus without one.
  • Wearing latex GLOVES is senseless without simply being trained how to remove them.
  • There are large fans on hog barns which allow INTAKE of fresh air and OUTFLOW of heat, moisture, and gas (yes, that kind). I’ve heard the word VENTILATION mentioned in Covid-19 chats and listed on guidelines. Aside from many questions such as what specifically does that look like to is that pumping air out or in — or both (?) — my first reaction was: Is it a good idea to be moving any extra air on a set with mostly people which may contain a respiratory virus?

Funny, not funny. The upside to shooting with a few hundred pigs is you can smell and see the obvious… Covid-19 is odorless and invisible.

I share these experiences of working on a hog shoot to suggest possible new roads you may be traveling on toward future shoots. The one commonality will be the slowing of all actions in every department. In an industry of “gotta go” and chasing the light and we need it yesterday – we’ll have to see how that works out.

My personal motto on any shoot is: pre-production saves lives. On a Covid-19 era shoot, this will be literal.

Be smart. Have fun. Stay safe.

 

Post content COPYRIGHT Jamie Vesay. 

LOCATION SCOUTING Definitions, Process, Collaboration, Respect.

Yes, I am old-school alumni with an honorable resume. I am always interested in the next collaborative journey… I am many-miles experienced and willing to share the answers but today — I have questions.

Do you know what a professional Location Scout is ?

Do you know what a professional Location Scout does ?

Here is my DEFINITION of Location Scouting: I provide location OPTIONS to filmmakers and commercial photographers. I am a collaborator

The lengths I travel, the things I see and look for, the service I offer you, and the wisdom I possess — make me one of the best Location Scouts in the business. Please allow me to tell you about Location Scouting — with me.

Grab a coffee or a cocktail.

I scout within industry parameters of practicality, safety, and budget. My bar is high and my lens is wide. I am a multi-hyphenate who is also a Producer. Hence, I scout with a Producer’s mind and produce with a Scout’s eye. I prefer 100% engagement in the name of context and best result. 

Have a seat — relax.  Do you have a drink? Good.Are you interested in working with a professional and willing to engage me fully about your project? If yes — we’re half way there. If I can’t help you – hear it from me versus an uninformed source. Assume nothing. Reach out. I will ask many questions but we’re just talking… If we are a fit — terrific. Let’s go!

On any given project, in an industry whose lifeblood is creativity, the last words I want to promote are basic or standard. Yet there MUST be a PROCESS or plan in place for all involved to be successful. The best (over-used) metaphor is — every structure has a BLUEPRINT. Do you want cookie cutter or an elaborate mansion? It’s cool either way but both projects need a blueprint. It is the PLAN — a.k.a. directions to realize your vision. By the way, I have no interest in locking you (or me) in a box because all of us want the element of creative exploration to remain…

We are collaborating toward the same common results — aren’t we?

There are basic tools available, which at one time were standard on all projects. Scripts, storyboards, treatments, and schedules are versions of blueprints. Sadly, more and more projects are coming down the road with none of these. Why? How? Where’s the plan? Why?  Yes, I said why twice.Now — right about this time, after I have asked other crazy questions — such as Where are we shooting? What time period? Color of the barn? Budget? — I get a heated retort, “Dude, what’s with all the questions?”

Sip your drink. I will too. Okay, before we move forward I do need to ask about a disturbing issue. What is this auto-reaction or uneducated reply or “I’ve been taught”… that a Location department isn’t needed? We are fellow collaborators. Many of us are not getting a call to have a shot at being considered. Yes, I am well aware of lower budgets, new ways, and a perceived DIY movement but since every position is a hybrid of three to five anyway — why not have a Location Professional on your project?  There are projects where a scout is hired (and should become Location Manager) but they are cut before shooting begins… yet on the same job, a 3rd AD or 5th AC or 13th PA is hired or retained.*  Location Scouts and Managers** are key members of a crew — and the process. 

Do you know there are multiple versions of a Location Scout collaborating?

The Location Scout’s scout is most often done by a Location Scout only. This is the first pass. I might be doing a few days of research before I hit the road. Best to have a Location Scout see all available options before wasting production’s or the Director’s time. Street-views on maps are fine to find where it is and see the neighborhood but nothing replaces seeing it in the present day. There are various reasons a location might not be available. During this phase, there could be a team of scouts traversing the earth at the same time in search of locations.***Another vote for sharing the creative vision (script, boards, plan) with me? When I scout, I watch for other things needed on the project. I have found everything from talent to wardrobe to animals. On the movie Nebraska I spotted an option for a bus and it was used in the film.The Director’s Scout is when the Director sees the lay of the land – usually accompanied by a Location Scout. This could be seeing previously scouted “selects” or a fresh drive-around in the name of inspiration. The Production Designer should be on this scout too. This scout happens most often on movies and large commercials. At least it should be happening.The DP Scout is a bonus scout, more often associated with movies. It is an extra layer of collaboration for the Director, DP, and Production Designer. The Location scout and/or Manager is present too. Yes, occasionally we scout from a boat or helicopter or plane or horseback…

The Tech Scout is all department heads and key crew seeing all locked locations. It is the homework phase before the shoot begins… Answers range from where do we park to how much power do we need to where catering sets up, etc. ?? The Location Scout/Manager is most heavily peppered with questions — from everybody. Related factoid: the Location Manager makes this daily schedule – not the ADs.

“But Jamie, technology has disrupted the world — and in certain instances, there is no going back. The next generation does things differently from the way they’ve been done.” Got it. The entire freakin’ production business has changed. Still, any of these ideals are not reasons to dismiss a basic proven process — or worse — outrightly disrespect your colleagues. While we’re here – if you are not hiring anybody for any position because of age, race, or sex — that would be discrimination and that is uncool — and illegal.WARNING. I just set down my drink, stood up, and removed my filter.

IF you are anti-Location Scout(ing) — you have not collaborated with a great Scout. If you are quick to lump me into one of your previously “bad” experiences BEFORE I show you the value I bring — I can’t help you. If you are an alleged filmmaker, production group, film association, guild, school, colleague, or film commission – spreading the word to not hire a Location Scout or Manager (deliberately or accidentally) — STOP.  It is waaay uncool.

If you are a Producer with zero respect for the craft or a process and would never hire a scout anyway… and you prefer to steal shots, trespass, be unsafe, etc. – you and I will never help each other. In fact, if you are that person — it is likely you are also a dick. Before any great blueprint – the first rule of collaboration is #DontBeADick 

Drinks are near their end. I’ve sat back down. I’ll let you go. If you’ve made it this far with me – thank you. My simple ask is this: use the services of a Location Scout. All we want to do is work on good projects with good people. Relish in the collaboration. Rinse repeat. It’s good karma.   

* Most budgeted projects respect the value of a Location Scout. But not all. On large-budgeted projects, there could be a team of Location Scouts hired.

** The Location Scout often becomes or is the Location Manager. In the case of commercials (at least for me) these roles could also be a Producer.

*** Location Scouts (who work 300 days out of the year) scouting for major motion pictures and national commercials , often travel globally.

For vetting or consideration, please visit my resume.

On IG as NebraskaLocation

Post content and photos COPYRIGHT Jamie Vesay.