Have you ever wondered what it would be like to see the world through a director’s lens? Most filmmakers have to rely on a location scout, or “location manager,” to find the perfect places for them to film.
Location scouts are often considered unsung heroes of filmmaking because they help directors fulfil their creative vision by finding practical and visually stunning locations.
If you’ve ever dreamed of being a part of the film industry, becoming a location scout is a great way to get your foot in the door. This article will give you all the essential information you need to know about becoming a film location scout.
What Is the Role of a Location Scout?
A location scout is responsible for finding and securing film and television productions locations. Once a potential site has been found, the location scout will assess the suitability of the location and negotiate with the landowners to secure the rights to use the land.
A location scout negotiates all fee arrangements with the landowner and any other logistical details that need to be ironed out. For example, the location scout may need to arrange for special permits or insurance to use the land for filming.
In some cases, the location scout may also be responsible for finding extras or background actors to populate the scene.
Location scouts typically work closely with the art department to ensure that the chosen location meets the creative requirements of the production. They also need to be aware of the practical considerations, such as making sure that the location is accessible and has enough space for the crew and equipment.
It’s a demanding job that requires a keen eye for detail, an understanding of production schedules, and the ability to negotiate with property owners. But if you’re passionate about film and eager to work behind the scenes, it can be a hugely rewarding career.
How to Become a Location Scout?
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To become a location scout, you will need to understand the film industry and how productions are run. It’s also helpful to have some experience working on the set. This will give you a better understanding of the logistical considerations that need to be considered when choosing a filming location.
Here are a few steps you can take to become a location scout:
Get Experience Working In the Film Industry
One of the best ways to learn about the role of a location scout is to get some experience working on set. This will give you a better understanding of how productions are run and what goes into finding and securing locations. There are many different positions you can apply for, such as production assistant or art department assistant.
Look for opportunities to work on independent films, as these tend to be more open to hiring people with little experience. You can also look for internships or volunteer positions with local film commissions or production companies.
Develop a Good Eye for Detail
Never ignore your surroundings. Take notice of the unique places you come across in your everyday life—you never know when they might come in handy!
Start photographing exciting places you come across, and keep a visual record of potential locations. When you’re starting, it’s helpful to have a portfolio of possible different locations that you can show to clients.
Be Culturally Aware
When you’re scouting locations, it’s important to be aware of the cultural sensitivities of the area. You need to respect the local community and make sure that your filming does not disrupt their way of life.
It’s also important to be aware of any religious or cultural sites that might be located in the area. Filming at these sites can be controversial, so it’s best to avoid them unless you have the proper permissions.
Obtain Expertise in the Field by Getting Professional Film School
Willingness to learn is the key to success in any field. Many helpful books and online resources can teach you the basics of location scouting. However, nothing can replace firsthand experience.
If you want to formalize your education, you can consider taking a film production or journalism course. These courses will give you a better understanding of the film industry and the role of a location scout within it.
Network, Network, Network…
As with any job in the film industry, it’s important to network and makes connections. Get to know people who work in the industry, and let them know that you’re interested in becoming a location scout. Attend industry events, such as film festivals, and introduce yourself to as many people as possible.
You never know when one of your contacts might need a location scout or be able to put you in touch with someone who does.
Use Location Scouting Apps and Websites
There are many apps and websites that can help you find locations. These can be a great starting point, but you should always visit the location in person to make sure it meets your needs.
Some of the most popular location scouting apps and websites include:
- Location Guides from Loaded Landscapes
- Really Good Photo Spots
- Google Earth.
- The Photographer’s Ephemeris
What to Consider When Scouting Locations?
When scouting locations, there are a few things you need to take into account:
The Type of Location You Need
The first step is to determine the type of location you need. Are you looking for a specific type of building, such as a warehouse, location house or office space? Or are you looking for a more general location, such as a beach or park? Maybe you need something more specific, like a professional filming & photography studio in East London.
The Logistics of the Shoot
You need to make sure that the location is easily accessible and enough space for the crew and equipment.
You also need to consider whether the location is available on the day and time you need it.
The Permission to Use the Location
Unless you have the owner’s permission, you cannot film on private property.
You also need to obtain a permit from the local authorities to film in a public space.
|Pro-tip: Always try to have a written agreement with the location owner, even if they are a friend or family member. This will protect both parties in case of any damages or accidents.|
The Weather Conditions
You need to be aware of the local weather conditions and make sure that the location is suitable for the type of shoot you’re planning.
For example, if you’re shooting a beach scene, you need to make sure that the weather will be sunny and that the waves are not too high.
The Level of Activity in the Area
The disturbance caused by onlookers can ruin a shoot. So, you need to make sure that the level of activity in the area is suitable for the type of shoot you’re planning.
For example, if you’re shooting a scene with actors in period costumes, a busy street corner might not be the best location.
You need to be aware of any potential safety concerns and make sure that the location is safe for both the crew and the cast.
If you’re shooting a scene with pyrotechnics, you need to make sure that there are no flammable materials nearby.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who hires location scouts?
Location scouts can be hired by pre production companies, advertising agencies, or even individuals planning to shoot a film or commercial.
Do you need permission to film in a park?
Media organizations and the general public need not be concerned about filming in public places. Police officers have no power to stop you from doing so, as long as it does not interfere with their work or that of others who may object on behalf of those being filmed without permission from either party involved. If questioned by law enforcement personnel regarding your footage, please explain calmly but politely why they should permit its continuation.
How much does a location scout make?
It depends on the project, but most location scouts typically earn a daily rate or a fee per project.
Becoming a location scout can be a great way to break into the film industry. It’s an important job that requires attention to detail and a good knowledge of the area where you’re scouting.
If you’re interested in becoming a location scout, research the requirements for the position and start networking with people in the industry. Once you have the necessary experience, you can start bidding on projects.
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