Location Scouting

Just like a piece of real estate, there’s one rule that’s a huge indicator of a film’s overall production value: LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION! Find the right location for your production and your narrative will feel life-like. But if you skimp on location sourcing or vetting, you could end up with scenes that feel confusing or, even worse, disingenuous.

Finding the right location doesn’t have to be a huge to do, however. As long as you a) have a kick-ass location scout at your disposal, and b) take the time to do your own internal location scouting with the production team, you can make the shots work to your advantage.

Location Scout vs. Location Scouting

In the world of video production, the term location scout actually has two meanings. While both are often vital to the video pre-production process, knowing the difference between the noun and verb is an important distinction.

Location Scout (Noun)

A location scout is a person whose sole dedication in life is to find, vet, and secure locations for a production. These professionals must have an uncanny mix of research skills, a knack for hunting things down, and a keen eye for their surroundings. In that way, location scouts aren’t unlike army scouts: searching the terrain ahead of the main company for a secure path forward.

Here’s an example of how the location scout’s job usually goes:

An upcoming commercial you’re shooting has a scene that takes place in the kitchen of a bustling restaurant. The kitchen needs to look modern and sleek without being too ostentatious, while also featuring a big island in the center, per the director’s request. These are some very specific requests, but that’s no challenge for a seasoned location scout. With this description in hand, they jump into action, either connecting with contacts they already have, conducting online research, or simply making inquiries until they have some good prospects. Next, they’ll go from location to location taking photos and making notes on the space (are bathrooms easily accessible? what’s the power situation? etc.), then report back to the production team. With this bevy of information at their fingertips, the next step is for the team to go…

Location Scouting (Verb)

Location Scouting is a part of video pre-production when the key production team — usually the director, DP, Gaffer, Production Designer, and Producer, at least — goes to a prospective location to look it over. Like the actual location scout did before them, the team assess the viability of the location and how it fits into the spot as a whole. Questions like “Do you think this fits the vibe of what we’re going for?” or “Will we be able to get the shot we’ve been envisioning?” are part of the ritual vernacular during this trip. At the end of a location scout, everyone should know if the location works for the production, and how they might need to transform/set decorate the place to fit the needed look.

Scouting Out the ECG Difference

Trey, ECG's head DP, on location for a shoot with Belgard.
Trey, ECG’s head DP, on location for a shoot with Belgard.

Ever needed a mega-mansion on a last minute notice? Have you ever jumped through the hoops necessary to shoot a commercial in a busy mass transit station? Do you know which rooftops in Atlanta give you just the right view of the city? At ECG, we’d answer those questions as 1) Yes, and we knew how to get it done!, 2) Sure have, and could do it again with ease, and 3) We know all of them, actually.

No matter the size, scale, or speed of a project, our on-staff team have scouted and sourced locations like it’s nobody’s business. We work efficiently and effectively to find the locations you need, no matter what. If you’re ready to find the perfect location for your next production, contact ECG today!

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