by Michael Neel & Greg Ansin
A good location is a very inexpensive way to add production value to your film. Any location where you can show up and not change much in terms of props/furniture/decorations/etc will save you time and money, and let you focus your energy elsewhere.
A good location makes the scene.
To start, see what the script calls for. You should base your needs from the story boards and the script breakdown — for example, do you need a kitchen with windows to the outside? A bathroom with a big shower? A back porch with a fence? Imagine yourself shooting the film and what it would be like.
Take photos of each scouted location.
When you scout a location, take photos so you can refer to them later. Otherwise your head will be swimming with locations and it can be easy to get confused. Plus, having photos can help later on — if you decide to add a scene or change an existing one you can use your photos to imagine how your changes might work.
Make sure all your production insurance is in order. If you want to be in the game you have to play by the rules. There are lots of different kinds coverage, it all depends on what state you live in.
Ames estate at Borderland state park Easton, MA.
Don’t be afraid to ask for a location. Most people are psyched and often let you film for free and credit in the movie.
Have your contact information ready to go – a nice business card goes a long way, and they don’t cost much. And make sure to get the location contact information and a contact name. I’d suggest putting it all in a binder.
Scouting out locations for the Watcher.
If you are going to be filming in public or creating a bloody mess, call the local police department. They are always cool and glad to know (sometimes they even ask to be in the movie!). If you have to get a permit or higher a detail officer, it is the price of doing business. If that is out of your budget, figure out another way to shoot the scene. Indie filmmakers have to be very creative sometimes.
In the wood for the Watcher.
If the location is good, check for adequate power. Find out when the location is available to shoot. And remember that even a small crew has a lot of film equipment, so it is very important to be as accommodating to the location’s owners as possible.