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Location scouting takes place during the pre-production phase of a film or TV commercial. It’s when you go out and about, trying to find the places where you’re going to shoot the movie or commercial.
Location scouting is really about approaching businesses in the city where you’re shooting the film, or wherever that scene is taking place.
Who’s responsible for that space? Is it someone’s house? Is it someone’s restaurant? Is it an office building? Is it a public place?
A great location scout is able to go out there and find things that the movie needs creatively, that work with what’s on the page. They can actually go out there and make it happen. Anybody can write a scene on top of a London landmark but unless you speak to the city of London and its boroughs and the people who own the landmarks in question, you’re not going to be shooting there and that scene’s not going to take place there. Does the scene have to take place at the London Eye or can it take place at another tall building in London? That opens up hundreds of possibilities than just that specific location. A great location scout is able to do what’s best for the movie or commercial and what’s actually possible in terms of it being made. They’re able to have a little bit of flexibility in choosing the locations where the film / commercial is shot.
When you’re scouting for a location for independent films or commercials, you want to look at a location that is more economic. For the most part, you aren’t going to have a huge crew and a huge security team that can really lock something down. That’s going to be your space, that’s your place of business. Is there power available there? Where can I set up food? Are there going to be people there? – Strangers there watching and distracting us, getting in the way of the shots? You want to look at a place that is your space, that you’re going to feel comfortable in, that you’re not going to have to sneak your way into. If you’re going to be setting up shop there, you want it to be yours, you want it to be legit, you want it to be able to fit in what you need creatively.
That’s the most important thing: does the location work for the story you’re trying to tell?