Location, Location, Location – A 3 Part Series on Where To Film

A camera crew films on location as a tribe sets up new stick home and tipi locations.
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Where you film is equally important as what you’re filming in video production. Here are the nuts and bolts of going on location.

Filming Locations 101

A couple stands on a frozen lake filming itself with a camera on a tripod and an beautiful pink and blue sunset in the background.

So you’ve found the perfect place to film your video. Now, what? Here’s a list of a few questions that will likely come up:

Who owns the property?

This may seem pretty simple to find, but especially if you’re dealing with private owners or firms it can take some research to find out who has the right to allow you to film at a location.

What permits/ location releases will be needed?

You’ll need a location release for almost any location, but depending on the activities taking place there may be additional permits that need to be filed.

How long will you need the space?

This is an important thing to know as it will likely affect your pricing and availability. Many locations will allow you to stay if your shoot goes over but it will always cost you, and there’s no guarantee the space will be available unless you specify the times with the location.

What is the price?

Location is no use to you if it’s not in budget. Keep this in mind when scoping the project. If your client wants to film at the Eiffel Tower, it’s important to understand all of the fees and permits that will come along with that, including travel for your crew.

How many people will be there?

This will also affect pricing and will tell you if the space is big enough to accommodate your crew. If not, you may need to think about how your team will be able to communicate while in different locations and where you will keep any actors, extras, craft services, etc.

What are you filming?

A man stands behind a camera and tripod, filming outdoor landscapes while the sun sets behind him.

If you’re bringing a jib, or a crane you’ll need room for them. Using high powered lights? You’re gonna need generators. If you’ve got a drone or pyrotechnics, you’ll likely need different permissions for your permit.

Also, when using animals, you’ll need trainers and special permission from the location. And if you’re performing stunts, your permit will likely require an on-site medic. As you can see, what you’re doing on any given shoot day can affect many different aspects of your location, and not all locations will allow all of the above situations.

Where will your crew park?

If you have a large enough crew and a small enough location, parking will likely be an issue. No one wants to come to work for 10 hours only to find that their car has been ticketed or towed because they parked on the street. Make sure everyone has a safe and accessible place to park. If you’re filming and need to have parking off-site, be sure to account for the time it will take to shuttle people to set.

What’s the weather like?

If you’re filming outside, this becomes a no-brainer. Of course you may need to plan for a rain date or make accommodations for extreme weather to protect your crew and equipment. (For more on making a winter shoot more bearable read this blog.) Keep in mind that even if you’re filming indoors, HVAC issues can happen, and having a back-up plan is prudent.

What about noise?

You may have found the most picturesque fountain, but it’s crazy loud and this will cause issues with audio. Is the neighborhood full of dogs that bark constantly, and lawnmowers throughout the day? Are you filming in an area that trucks frequent? These can’t always be avoided, but having a nice quiet location will make your audio team very happy.

Ready for more? Learn why locations cost money (and how that cost racks up) in part two of the series!

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