Why pick one location over another?
After I read a script or get specifics about a location request (not always provided so you have to ask for this intel – beyond a general, often vague description) I use the following search criteria:
- Does the location fit the creative vision?
- Is the location interested in the project – and available on the proposed shoot day(s)?
- Will the owner engage with the process and be willing to help you – from answers to support?
- Does the location have decent art direction bones and options to build on production design?
- Is there enough space for the footprint of the crew – inside and out?
- Ample parking for trucks, genny, catering, crew self-drives, talent, extras, clients?
- Can it double for a second or third location – if needed.
Yes, there are other elements that are important not mentioned here but most can be worked out IF the answers above are positive and the production really likes the location.
The photo above is a lumber yard and saw mill.
Not only did it meet my criteria across the board, it provided bonus environmental elements that made the photography even more rich. Dirt, mud, piles of sawdust, rocks, and huge piles of logs made for dramatic layers. Notice the steam coming from the building. It is from treating piles of wood. It ran all day and it wasn’t temperature dependent. On a large movie, this is an FX crew with a steam or smoke machine. But if you have neither that crew or the budget, this could be added value to the production design. Use it.
We got at least three different looks on this location property – including a construction site. The business was expanding and constructing a new building. Scissor lifts, scaffolding, and workers allowed me to fill another location request for the same project.
Here are a few tips to find Locations with best production value:
- Open your mind and think creatively. Where one location might be an obvious choice – think further. The description for the location above started with one word – Industrial.
- Be sure to see the entire property. Ask if there is more. I want to know about equipment, people, other unseen buildings, views from high positions, open spaces for other shooting or just as important – crew / talent holding areas and parking.
- Can I double or triple locations? Perhaps different looks in geography are needed or specific time periods.
- Establish a working relationship with the property owner / manager. Better they are an ally than an obstacle. You will need them for many questions. Besides, it’s more fun that way.
- NEVER offer a location that is UNAPPROVED. Say you drive by a place all the time and are convinced it is the perfect location. TALK TO THE OWNER first. Get a better look at it up close. This might be shocking to hear but there are property owners that couldn’t give a flying about production and the process of making creative images.
Explore many great options. Pick the best one that will serve the vision and give back to the production process. And have fun.
Photos and words COPYRIGHT Jamie Vesay 2012 ANY USE requires permission.