Monday, 6 January 2014

5 Things You Need to Know About Location Scouting

Location Scouting is a beautiful thing, right? (Shout out to all the Location Scouts and Location Managers out there!). Sometimes we underestimate how important it is to pay attention to the details in every location we select for our projects. It doesn't matter if you're scouting for a photo shoot, a commercial, or a short film. Taking time in this pre-production process will let your shoot flow without issues (even though we know there will always be challenges, right? That's what makes our job so complex and fulfilling at the same time!).

1. Select diverse options and get out there

Whenever I'm looking for a location, I like to manage several options in parallel, so I can save as much time as possible. While I'm waiting for a response in a place that I like, I'm already calling for 2 or 3 more that may work as well. After you gather a list of potential options, it’s time to go out there and scout.

My recommendation: Start a Location Database with all the info you can gather (contact info, availability, pictures and notes). You're going to thank yourself later.

2.  Take as many pictures as necessary (but don't go crazy)
Bring a camera to the locations you visit, so you can take pictures that show your crew (especially your Director, DP, Camera Operator, Art Director and Sound Director) what the space is like, color palette, lighting, structure, access, doors, etc. But please be careful, taking 500 pictures of one single location can translate to a very long review. Your crew will really appreciate simplicity.

My recommendation: Take various wide shots of the place in every angle needed, and tighter shots of textures, colors, spots and other details that you consider important. Save these pictures and organize them wisely (add them to your database). And remember, don't go crazy with the shutter.

3. Notes, notes, notes!
Some Location Scouts have their own note taking process. I actually like to take notes of almost everything, because after seeing 20 different apartments for a shoot, you might not remember what the first 5 looked like.

My recommendation: Make a Location Scouting Report for every location you visit during the scouting process (see below). 
You can use it to specify and organize every important detail about your location, like address, contact info, dimensions, facilities, access, parking, sound environment, limitations, etc. Everything you need to know about that location in a single form. Genius.

Also, some Location Scouts like to sketch maps or plots with the dimensions and structure of the place, so they can arrange parking spots and group organization, among other things. Great idea.

4. Re-visit your favorite locations with your crew
After visiting a group of locations, meet with your crew to show them the pictures you took and your scouting reports. Discuss your ideas and thoughts. Then, filter your list to your top 2 or top 3 (unless you have an ultimate favorite).

Next, gather your crew and arrange a second visit to those selected locations. Now that you kind of know the space, show your team around and take any further notes with their insight. During this second visit or a third one, the Photography, Sound and Art Departments usually test the place by shooting or trying a couple of different frames according to the script, or by testing the audio environment to see if it meets the project's needs.

My recommendation: Take your time to get to know the owner of the place. As a Location Scout, Location Manager or even a Head of Production, it is crucial for you to have a good relationship with the person in charge, so it would be easier for you to manage the location’s logistics with him/her.

5. Get the Scouting App!
After doing some further research about Scouting, I found this cool, helpful, and FREE app called Shoot Local, by Surge Apps.  Basically it allows you to find and review locations, take pictures of the places you’ve found, share them with other scouts or friends, create a location database, find nearby scouts and much more. Sounds fun, right?

My recommendation: Download it, try it and let us know us what you think!

So tell us, have you ever been part of a location scouting? Did you enjoy the experience? Would you add any other tips about locations to this list? Please, send us your thoughts and comments in the section below or tweet @swagger_media!

¡Hasta la pr√≥xima!

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