Location: A brief guide

The primary filming location for Consolidating - it was a nightmare for continuity!

Finding the right location for a shot is important. Often you will need to make new contacts or find out details about ownership and ask permission for filming at a location. Sometimes you’ll need to fork out a little for the use of the location, other times just a promise of a credit at the end of your film and to tidy up after yourselves.

Either way, you should really have a contract of sorts drawn up. Something that says that you can use the location not just in the film, but any promotional materials as well as the right to move furniture and equipment and turn off sounds on the speakers and such. But after all that, there’s still so much to do! So here’s a brief guide to what you should look to do once you’ve found your location.

The location for Dominic McWater on the trailer of Victoriana

1. Don’t just take photos of the shot. Take photos of around the area. You’ll need to work out how much room there is around to actually set up your equipment. Also, the shots around the location will also give you an idea of space so you can draw up a floor plan.

2. See the facilities. That’s not just the lavatory, but when inside, you may need to draw power from sockets. If you know where these are, you can plan on whether you need an extension, and also for what you can put in the sockets.

3. Plan for external sounds. If the location is near a road, you may get vehicle sounds in shot. This may factor in to certain things, like what day or time of day you shoot, whether there’s any way of minimising the noise (say for example, closing double glazing windows and doors). Likewise, if the location is near a church or town hall or something, how likely is it that there will be a bell sounding on the hour.

4. Control of an area. Sometimes you can get away with people randomly coming by, other times you can’t. It can be very difficult to completely lock off an area so that the public cannot use it. It’s therefore a necessity that you know how likely people are going to disturb you. You want to be able to minimise this as much as possible. Which brings me onto my next point.

5. Look official. The best thing you can do when filmmaking is look official. If you’re wearing high visibility jackets, the likelihood of people complaining decreases. People assume (either rightly or wrongly – but I cannot stress enough the importance of getting permission) you’re authorised to be where you are, and control the location. You will sometimes get somebody asking what you’re doing, but they’ll usually be satisfied with “making a film” or something to that effect. In fact, one thing I may try next time, just to emphasise the point, is putting up signs around the area – doors, windows etc… saying that filming is in progress and to please keep quiet. This coupled with the high visibility jackets, you’ll probably get the cooperation you’re after.

Yellow jackets make it look like we're important people - basically: Respect my authoritah!

So, in short, controlling a location is very important. Do everything in your power to make sure you can do whatever you need to in order to get what you want. Oh, and in this respect, while filming, the larger the group the better – people might be willing to disrupt filming of a few people, but probably not for a larger group.

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