Tips for Choosing a Great Filming Location

Published on in Advice / Tips & Tricks

Choosing a good filming location is always a demanding task for any filmmaker. It is also an immense responsibility because the choices you make will highly affect the filming process in general and, eventually, the success of your project. Hence, doing thorough research prior to making the final decision regarding this matter is of key importance. Only by applying this approach will you be able to choose a filming location that guarantees authenticity, no technical or other miscellaneous obstacles to the filming process, plenty of time for filming, and favorable working conditions for the whole crew.

Since hiring a scout who could help you choose a good filming location can cost you dearly, here are some useful tips on the subject you might want to consider.

Impeccable organization is compulsory in case of interior locations

Filming on interior locations requires an impeccable and detailed organization if you want to avoid problems. It is essential to make sure you will have enough space for all the filming equipment. Furthermore, actors need their space to focus on their lines, change their clothes, and slowly prepare for the filming. To cut the long story short, every filming department needs its space to organize, orchestrate and finally conduct all the necessary preparations. If any of these elements is lacking, you might want to consider some other location. Otherwise, you risk prolonged hours of filming, distracted crew likely to make mistakes and even damaging some of your filming equipment in this chaos. 

When you need to handle filmmaking on a budget, you need to be particularly careful about these details. The fewer financial means you have at your disposal, the more limited your choices get.

When scouting an exterior location, the time of the day matters

When choosing a good exterior filming location, you have to face a whole new set of challenges. Noise is most often a serious problem because the importance of sound is immense. Even though you may not hear some sounds clearly enough to attract your attention, the microphones you will be using while filming will register everything in your surroundings. Understandably, this can considerably complicate the filming process if you do not keep the situation under control.

On the other hand, depending on the scenes, you might need abundant sunshine or natural light. If you visit and explore the potential location in the evening, you may not have an objective vision of the location as a whole. So, always scout a location at the time of the day you expect the major part of the filming process will take place.

Acquire the necessary permits

Depending on the location you choose, you may not need any permits or you might need a lot of them. When choosing a good filming location on private property, the procedure is simple. You need the permission of the owner or the manager. However, when filming downtown, it is essential to contact the local government and obtain permission to block the traffic, use some weapons, film a robbery or a violent scene, and so on. Bear in mind that the main purpose of this procedure is to ensure the utmost safety for both your crew and the passers-by. Hence, never neglect this step in choosing and determining the right filming location.

When filming on multiple locations, distance is the key

When filming on multiple locations is necessary for your project, it is critical to choose the sites which are in the vicinity of one another. Then you can schedule the process more easily and forget about packing and relocating filming equipment every now and then. You can focus on the core of your filming process and that is the perfect organization of one scene after another.

For example, if you need a good filming location that requires a lot of sunshine, heat, water, and the beach, Florida is among the first choices everybody would make. There you can choose several locations close to one another and once the filming of the scenes that require these conditions is over, you can hire some reputable moving company, like the one you can find at, and get the assistance to move to the new location easily. 

Only an authentic location leads to success, so be resourceful

Choosing an authentic location affects the authenticity of your final filming product by all means. While with some aspects of this process you can make compromises, an authentic location is compulsory if you want to achieve premium-quality results. If necessary, make some changes in the script and get down to rewriting. In this case, tailor the script to the location and not vice versa.

Creative set dressing can do miracles

Creativity can help you a lot to save on your filming expenses and yet still film on the locations you have envisioned. If you are good at set dressing and you can apply some imaginative ideas, using duplicate locations will become unnecessary. The only condition this type of location has to fulfill is to have enough space for you to experiment and create two filming locations out of one.

Shoot a panorama of the location you have chosen

Before choosing a good filming location you will, most probably, have to consult other members of the crew as well. If they have never been to the place you are considering, taking some photos from various perspectives is highly beneficial. Ideally, shooting a panorama is the best strategy because your co-workers and consultants will be able to visualize the space much more easily and comprehend the geography of the area without any difficulties.

Always be prepared for the unforeseen circumstances

As in every sphere of our lives, unforeseen circumstances can always emerge and influence the filming process. For example, some noise a block away can ruin the dialogues, or the weather may change suddenly and make the filming completely unmanageable. So, have alternatives at hand and always make some basic preparations the day before the filming. These preparations involve checking the weather forecast, for example, or the situation on the roads, or whether there are any events organized in the area you need for the filming. Then, you can act accordingly and look for solutions on time. 

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About the Author

David Thomson
David Thomson is a scriptwriter who loves writing articles on the challenges of the filming industry in general. He enjoys studying, analyzing and looking for solutions in the filming process. David is a vegan, so healthy food is another topic he is eager to discuss and write about. He enjoys cycling and going for long walks with his German shepherd Booth.

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  • Scott Clark said…
    Tuesday, January 7, 2020 2:24 PM
    So since a Location Scout costs you money you should do it yourself? If you have a crew I strongly suggest you hire a Location Scout & Location Manager. This department is just as important as any other.
  • Greg said…
    Tuesday, January 7, 2020 4:12 PM
    Great post! Although a location scout/manager is often a great idea, sometimes it's easier to do it yourself.

    I just had someone looking to shoot a corporate presenter, outside and on the water in Miami. In this case we would scout location ourselves, since we're mostly interested in the position of the sun as certain times, and the amount of exterior noise.

    Also, in Miami, you can apply for a permit yourself.

    Greg Ball, President
    Ball Media Innovations, Inc.
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