Location scouting

Location scouting

Location Scouting is a vital process in the pre-production stage of filmmaking and commercial photography. Once scriptwriters, producers or directors have decided what general kind of scenery they require for the various parts of their work that is shot outside of the studio, a search is begun for a suitable place or "location" outside the studio. Location scouts will also look for appropriately spectacular or interesting locations beforehand, to have a database of locations in case of requests.

Location scouts are also often tasked with negotiating legal access to filming locations.

Location Requirements

Suitability of a location to the task at hand takes into consideration many factors including, but not limited to:
*overall aesthetic
*financial cost to production
*logistic feasibility including but not limited to distance from base of operations or other locations scheduled
*availability of parking and facilities to keep crew and talent (principal actors or models and extras) safe and dry at all times
*availability of electrical power and/or feasibility bring in power generators for lights and other anticipated electrical needs.
*available light (if indoors or outdoors) and weather conditions (if outdoors)
*permission from and cooperation of location owner as well as neighbors, local government and/or law enforcement

Work Process

Typically ideas for what a location should or could be are discussed between production department and locations department (it could be at this point that the locations department is actually created), then research is begun to actually find and document that location using location scout(s). The Location Scouts and other Locations Department Staff (see below), working under the supervision of the Location Manager, generally strive to provide as many potentially useful/viable ideas and/or options as possible for review by production; often the Assistant Director, Production Manager and subsequently, the Director or even the Executive Producer in the case of narrative filmmaking..

Once a "short list", or consensus indicating the locations with most potential is reached, arrangements are normally made for some of the heads of the other Production Departments to tour those location(s) in person as needed to further confirm suitability of the location(s) in question. This tour is commonly referred to as a "tech scout", " [http://dictionary.reference.com/search?r=2&q=reconnoiter rekky] " or "go-see".

During this time the Locations Department (specifically, most likely the Location Manager himself in situations requiring the most responsibility) will have already established contact with and begun negotiation with any number of internal and external parties as may have bearing on production's ability to film at the location, otherwise known as "clearing the location", i.e. investigating and confirming availability and agreed upon fees to be paid to a location property owner or agent, obtaining a certicate of insurance, obtaining any needed film permits (may involve fees as per local requirements), distributing "resident letters" or "filming notifications"- written advice to neighbors in the area, advising same of intent to film in the immediate area (often necessary per local requirements as well as morally advisable if production's presence will impact local normal day-to-day activities in any appreciable way) -in general "locking down" or making sure that all details and existing or potential issues are addressed. While it is the Locations Department's job to anticipate and minimize any potential problems associated with a location, it is also the Locations Department's duty to advise other Production Department heads of any unresolvable problems or inherent issues that need consideration so contingencies can be planned or a decision can be made as to whether an alternate location might actually be better suited. In such case plans might be made and budget allocated for further research and location scouting.

Change Management

Production events involving the Location Department and its personnel can occur very quickly and quite often, the requirements themselves, i.e. script rewrite(s), creative concept change(s), of a location itself can change on the fly. More often than not, multiple locations associated with multiple scenes in production are involved, in fact, under some circumstances, a busy and resourceful freelancer or Locations Department Staffer could be involved in multiple projects simultaneously.

Problem Solving

Solving location problems can be quite challenging and hard work for long, odd hours, requiring keen communication skills, focus, ability to "think on one's feet" or "multitasking", take action(s) quickly and responsibly as well as make use of technical skills. Familiarity and ability to make use of local resources and a network of capable support are obvious assets. For the Location Scout or Location Manager that loves his/her work, resolving the types of details described above are what make the job exciting and rewarding.

Booking a Site

Only after all the steps above, if a location is still viable and available, is it "confirmed" or "booked". Usually a legally binding location contract is drawn up and signed by all parties involved and a property release is obtained, which is written, signed permission from the property owner or agent allowing photography of and public depiction via media (i.e. broadcast, video, film, print publication).

Once a location reaches the "booked" stage, there are very few acceptable reasons for filming to not commence as planned. At this point many man-hours of paid production work and considerable amounts of money for location fees and/or permits have typically been invested with the chosen location in mind. A change of creative concept at this stage or glitch of any kind (i.e. property owner cancellation) is potentially very costly to production and legal action is an unfortunate possible consequence if no other acceptable remedy can be made. On the flip side of the coin, if production somehow misrepresents itself with regard to its activities, stated intended use of the location, damages property (insurance protecting the property owner should be required for any shoot) or negligently causes other problems for the property owner, property owner is likely to seek remedy in any of many forms available, including the legal system. In summary, it's always best if everybody "plays nice".

Consideration of Weather

Local weather conditions can figure heavily into a location's viability and affect many areas of production scheduling, so contingencies and alternate, budgetary-efficient plans should be made well in advance of any shoot day with a possibility to be affected by weather. A location with potential to be affected by weather should always be cleared and placed, in advance, with the property owner's understanding and consent "on weather hold" or under the condition that production will only confirm use of the location and commence photography pending viable weather conditions. The aim, in addition to the obvious goal of attaining the correct aesthetic for the shot in acceptable and safe working conditions is also geared toward providing greater flexibility of crew scheduling, equipment, vehicle, etc. rentals and other production aspects and minimize inconvenience to the owner and in the event of cancellation or postponement by production due to weather, eliminate or minimize cancellation fees as may be part of an agreement between production and the location.

Locations for Various Media

In addition to feature films and short films, television commercials and television shows, documentary films, corporate video, print advertising photography, editorial photography and even event planning all have the possibility to employ location scouts to find and photograph locations for their productions.

The methods employed are much the same as for feature film production, but the processes often differ in some ways:

Turn around times are generally shorter and the decision making is shared between production, the director/photographer and the advertising agency or even the end client. A weekly broadcast TV show may have significant deadline challenges for obvious reasons.

Often the decision makers are geographically dispersed, which may explain why commercial and print scouts have been early adopters of online presentations and other digital technologies.

Additional Duties

The Locations Department's duties often extend beyond pre-production and into actual production as well as after filming at the location has completed; a Location Manager and/or other Locations Department members are often needed during actual shooting and at wrap to be a general point of internal contact for matters related to the Locations Department such as ensuring smooth crew movement to and from the location, answering locations-related questions/ solving misc problems as may arise, coordinating crowd control and as an external point of contact between production and such parties as perhaps the property owner, neighbors, local [http://afci.org film office] /government and law enforcement.

Locations Department personnel are always the last crew to leave a location and the credo is to leave the location in the same (if not better) condition than it was found.

Job Titles and Job Descriptions

A film crew might have the following titled positions staffed in regard to the Locations Department. Many of the positions often "cross over" or a member of the department might "wear several hats":

Location Manager

Oversees the Locations Department and its staff, typically reporting directly to the Production Manager and/or Assistant Director (or even Director and/or Executive Producer). Location Manager is responsible for final clearing (or guaranteeing permission to use) a location for filming and must often assist Production/Finance Dept(s) in maintaining budget management regarding actual location/permit fees as well as labor costs to production for himself and the Locations Department at large.

Assistant Location Manager

Works with the Location Manager and the various departments in arranging technical scouts for the essential staff (grips, electric, camera, etc) to see options which the Location Manager has selected for filming. The Assistant Location Manager will be onset during the filming process to oversee the operation, whereas the Location Manager continues preproduction from elsewhere (generally an office) on the upcoming locations. (Note: On most location-based television shows, there will be two Assistant Location Managers that alternate episodes, allowing one to prep an upcoming episode while the other is on set with the current one.)

Location Scout

Does much of the actual research, footwork and photography to document location possibilities. Often the Location Manager will do some scouting himself, as well as the Assistant Location Manager!

Location Researcher/Coordinator

On a large film crew someone might be assigned exclusively to do research work for the Locations Department, freeing the Location Scout(s) to concentrate on photographing location possibilities or other tasks. This person's job might be to do internet or public library research and contact resources to assess said resource's interest in being involved in the film project and if such interest exists, the location researcher might be responsible for setting up an appointment for a location scout to go there.

Location Assistant

Hired by the Location Manager to be on-set before, during, and after the filming process. General responsibilities include arriving first at the location to allow the set dressers into the set for preparation; maintaining the cleanliness of the location areas during filming; fielding complaints from neighbors; and ultimately, at the end of the filming, making sure it seems as though the film crew was never there. There is generally one to three assistants on a shoot at any given time.

Location Production Assistant

This position exists generally on larger budget productions. The Locations PA is the assistant who is almost never onset, but instead is always "prepping" a location or "wrapping" a location. That is, when a location requires several days of set up and breakdown prior and following the day(s) of filming.

Parking Coordinator

Typically hired by Location Manager on an as-need basis to supervise Parking Staff in order to secure and coordinate crew parking including equipment trucks and personal vehicles. Locations Department and Parking Department might work together with local law enforcement to coordinate traffic control if the scene being filmed involves roadway right-of-way in any way.

Parking Staff

These noble folks hang up the brightly colored signs that declare No Parking and then sit in their cars (with an orange cone on the top) to ensure that no one dare park in the coned off areas.

Waste Removal

Location Department's disposition is to be the last to depart a location upon wrap and to leave the location in exactly if not better condition as it existed upon arrival. A waste removal company might be hired on an as-need basis.


A location scout typically takes descriptive, panoramic photographs or video of location possibilities. A good location scout will make photos of a location possibility that reflect the aesthetic goals of the production and will also include visually descriptive utilitarian photography and info in his/her presentation, documenting much more than just what will potentially appear onscreen.

Additional descriptive information might include (as might be relevant):
*reverse/alternate angle (photographing TOWARD where camera might be), panoramic photography- to show space available for camera, lighting, video assist, hair and makeup (and clients on a commercial shoot)
*GPS coordinates, compass directions, other map data as may be applicable
*ambient lighting conditions at various times of day (or night), solar data, i.e. angle of sun at different times of day
*photos of holding/staging areas and available parking and/or parking restriction signage
*hand sketches of street/building layout(s), building/room floor plan(s), room or area dimension data
*crew/vehicle access data, i.e. doorways, hallways, elevators, stairs, availability and info of personnel needed for access
*notes regarding ambient sound conditions
*On the shoot day, if a set is to be "dressed" (props/furniture added or (re)moved), Locations Department and/or Art Department/Property Master Staff/Prop Stylist will photograph the specific areas to be affected so as to assure that the location will be returned to its original state once filming is completed.

See also

*Location Manager, the person responsible for the locations department
*Teamsters, the American union representing location scouts in California.
*Location Managers Guild of America, the guild that represents location scouts nationwide
*Filming location, filming location
*Film production, film production
*Television advertisement, television advertisement
*Location library, location library

External links

* [http://www.locationmanagers.org/ Location Managers Guild of America] (LMGA)
* [http://www.golm.org.uk/ UK Guild of Location Managers] (GOLM)
* [http://www.stumpedmagazine.com/articles/location-scouting.html Stumped? Magazine article] A first person look at location scouting
* [http://www.alsam.net/ Association of Location Scouts & Managers] (ALSAM)

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Location scouting — Als Locationscout wird in der Regel die Person benannt, die im Auftrag einer Filmproduktion oder eines Fotografen bestimmte Drehorte bzw. Motive für Fotoshootings ausfindig machen muss. Der Locationscout ist in der Regel dem Szenenbildner… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Location library — A location library or location archive is a collection of visual and reference information, usually organized by a serial numbering system, descriptive keywords, geographic location (or more often than not a combination of the aforementioned) of… …   Wikipedia

  • Scouting in Colorado — has a long history, from the 1910s to the present day, serving thousands of youth in programs that suit the rugged, mountainous environment in which they live. Contents 1 Early history (1910 1950) 2 Recent history (1950 1990) 3 Scouting in… …   Wikipedia

  • Scouting in Connecticut — has gone through many organizational changes in its history. While having only eight counties, Connecticut has had 40 Boy Scout Councils since the Scouting movement began in 1910. In 1922, there were 17 separate Boy Scout Councils operating in… …   Wikipedia

  • Scouting and Guiding in Victoria — Scouting and Guiding in Victoria, a State of Australia, is predominantly represented by the state branch of Scouts Australia and Girl Guides Victoria, a member of Girl Guides Australia. Contents 1 Scouts Australia Victorian Branch 1.1 Regular… …   Wikipedia

  • Scouting in Missouri — has a long history, from the 1910s to the present day, serving thousands of youth in programs that suit the environment in which they live. Contents 1 Early history (1910 1950) 2 Recent history (1950 1990) 3 Scouting in Missouri today …   Wikipedia

  • Scouting in California — has a long history, from the 1910s to the present day, serving thousands of youth in programs related to their environments. Contents 1 Early history (1910–1950) 2 Recent history (1950–1990) 3 Boy Scouting in California today …   Wikipedia

  • Scouting in Arizona — has a long history, from the 1910s to the present day, serving thousands of youth in programs that suit the environment in which they live.Early history (1910 1950)Campaign to Save the Bighorn SheepIn 1936, the Arizona Boy Scouts mounted a state… …   Wikipedia

  • Scouting in Washington — has a long history, from the 1910s to the present day, serving thousands of youth in programs that suit the environment in which they live. Contents 1 Early history (1910–1950) 2 Recent history (1950–present) 3 Scouting in Washington today …   Wikipedia

  • Scouting in Alabama — has a long history, from the 1910s to the present day, serving thousands of youth in programs that suit the environment in which they live. Contents 1 Boy Scouting in Alabama 1.1 Early history (1910 1950) 1.2 Recent history (1950 1990) …   Wikipedia