The Media Booth

Location scouting essentials

Picture of Adeeb Farhat
Adeeb Farhat
Head of Production

One of the first steps into a production is finding a good location, actually finding the right location, finding the right location will affect the rest of the production process. It is a critical piece of how your story will be told and helps bring the director’s vision to life. 

  • Bring the needed crew with you, the DOP, Gaffer, Art department, AD, Director, Producer
  • Create a mood board that includes similar locations and sets 
  • Bring a measuring tape or digital laser measurement tool, this will help you in many ways, 
    1. first to measure the set dimensions, and the distance between subjects and backgrounds.
    2. It will help you measure doors to see if your equipment can fit, or windows that need to be closed.
    3. It will help you know the length of your cables and power cables
  • A camera with a zoom lens, a camera will help you establish your shots, help you see your frames, and decide what is doable and what is not. 
  • it will help you take photos to prepare better for your shot list and storyboard. you can film test shots that will help your producer or art direction team prepare better.
  • Notebook, a notebook is always essential, you can write down all comments on power, light direction, timing, schedules, and notes for props or technicians.
  • A multitool, no explanation needed! this tool is what you will need in almost all scenarios.
  • A flashlight, sometimes you might end up going to dark places or looking into closets or warehouses. a flashlight will help you stay safe while walking and improve your vision
  • Laser pointer, this will help you point out things and tasks for your team, like where to position props or cameras or lights.
  • A Phone with the right apps:
    1. Sun seeking App 
    2. A map that you can pin locations on
    3. Framing Apps (Artimis Pro)
    4. Business card scanner (for collecting phone numbers of location contacts)
  • A comfortable bag to hold all the needed equipment, scouting includes a lot of walking, so make sure you use a bag that does not make your back or shoulders ache
  • Bring a sound recorder to test on-location sound, sounds you will need to pay attention to:
    1. Environment sounds, like nearby construction sites, highways, airports, factories
    2. On-location appliances, such as AC units, kitchen appliances, TVs
    3. Echo and reverb
  • As a producer always look for elements that will make the production process smooth during the filming days:
    1. Safety of the location, this means for crew or talents, is there any dangerous spots you need to secure?
    2. Rooms and spaces, and staging, think about where you will position everything, equipment trucks, catering, will also need to find restrooms accessibility and availability and changing rooms for talents and stunts 
    3. Parking spots, you do not want your crew or talents wasting time looking for parking spots. 
    4. Equipment safety, if you will need safety cables, rain covers, weather-sealed gear, and cases.
  • An electric circuit tester/meter is a good tool to know if your power sources are working and what is the available voltage 
  • Look for ways to hang lights, whether it’s beams or walls. look for rigging points and whether you can access roofs and balconies.
  • How will you move equipment on set if you have shoots on high floors or stairs, do you have an elevator? 
  • Check for unwanted logos or brand logos in the shots (such as furniture brands, electronics brands, or stores in the background)
  • If you have a location already suggested, google it, and know as much information about it before you scout it. check it on the map and check what is around it.
  • Don’t show up to a location without checking it out ahead of time.
  • Try Airbnb or location websites to find location suggestions
  • Take your time in each location, walk around the location and pay attention to details. 
  • Tips:
    1. Take as many photos are possible.
    2. look for power sources and options
    3. look for the path and direction of natural light (sun)
    4. write everything down
    5. always ask about permits and location rental fees.
    6. look for mirror and glass surfaces that might reflect light and items.
    7. Have backup locations 
    8. Look for practical lights
    9. Know your frames and cameras before you scout 
    10. Don’t be afraid to use your network to get ideas 

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