Location Scouting

Every scout should have a director (creative) type and a production type (reality). A director will often ignore the realities of production. The production person should be the pessimist. "That's a great idea, but maybe we can't do it". Solutions can evolve from identified problems.

A still camera with 1 hour film very useful. Polaroids are more expensive, but instant. You have only one focal length.

Keep good notes. If you use a micro recorder make sure it is recording.

Bring a map, compass, and tape measure. Carry a "where the sun is" chart, calculator or computer. Have road maps to all possible other locations if you don't find what you want. Your camcorder is a good viewfinder, but it's hard to lay a video image on a table. Your wallet finder is good for determining what a camera might include.

Scouting is the first trial of a script on the real world. A story will make more sense in context of a location.

Locations help a director convert words into images.

Production should point out possible problems to stimulate director to find other solutions and expand on them.

Feel vs. shootability. Sounds, smells, and over all feeling can distort your judgment about shootability.

Consider where sun will be for best light.

What is best background (BG)? What is needed to hide things? Will the location even work?

Does the location have enough possible shots to be efficient?

Before leaving a location ask...Why does it work? If it doesn't why? Having parameters is valuable for finding the right location.

Don't go to the best location first. It will help work out the shooting parameters so that they can be applied to better possibilities.

Until parameters are defined, minor problems may make a suitable location seem unworkable.

Variables that effect objective seeing during scouting.

1. Script Needs

2. Personal moods.

3. Amount of time to scout

4. Light (time of day)

5. Weather for scout and shoot

6. Personal POV of each person involved and their own department's problems.

7. Familiarity with job. (Old pro vs. film student)

8. Personal comfort.

9. Sequence of locations shown. (Don't go to best first.)

10. Fatigue.

11.Amount of time available before shoot. (Preproduction always fills the available time.)

12.How well script is developed so far

13.Cost of location.

Things to consider:

Props, sound quality, sequence of shooting, room to work, where things go on shoot day (trucks, talent, extras, crew, lunch, crowd control, security, permits, rain, overcast

Does the location spark better story ideas?

© Copyright 1999-2004 Ron Dexter. All Rights Reserved.