Film School Friday – How do I find locations?

How do I Find Locations Episode Summary

In this weeks episode of Film School Friday, Corey and Bill are talking about how to find locations and some things to keep in mind when you start scouting.

How do I Find Locations Episode Notes

In this weeks episode of Film School Friday, Corey and Bill are talking about how to find locations and some things to keep in mind when you start scouting.

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Locations Trasncript

Corey Allen  0:08  

Welcome to film school Friday. I’m Corey.

Bill Cornelius  0:11  

I’m Bill.

Corey Allen  0:11  

And together,

Bill Cornelius  0:13  

we are recording in front of a live studio audience. We’re the infocus podcast. And we are not in front of a live studio audience, we have a empty couch in front of us in

Corey Allen  0:27  

film school Friday is our special weekly episode where I get to quiz bill to see how much knowledge he’s retained from his many years of film school. All four of them,

Bill Cornelius  0:37  

all four of them,

Corey Allen  0:38  

all four of them. And today, Bill, we’re talking about locations. Yes, location scouting location, securing a good location. What’s what does it take to find the right location for your next shoot?

Bill Cornelius  0:53  

locations, honestly, that it can be daunting at first, because you you know, you have a script or a treatment that has, you know, specific needs that are called out, you know, like, I need a bar, I need a loft that has a view of the city or something like that, and then finding what is in the script or the treatment that exists in the world that you can actually use, which, to me as a director, it’s kind of fun in a way, it’s it’s a fun challenge. It’s like a scavenger hunt, you know, to find the right location, because not only does it have to fit, whatever the vision is for the director, writer or whatever it might be, but also, it’s got to be a place where you can shoot practically, and also get permission to shoot, you know, within a reasonable budget or reasonable resource. And that

Corey Allen  1:45  

seems important. Yes,

Bill Cornelius  1:47  

yes, it is. And so the locate, if you have a location manager who’s doing the scouting for you, I mean, that’s that’s their whole job is to, you know, we joke about the word Rolodex, but you know, they have like a Rolodex of locations they can pull from, depending on what the need is. And a lot of times, they’ll already have the right connections, they’ll be connected with the local film office, they’ll be able to secure places have the right forms the right questions that ask locations, for me as a director, and as a dp, I think it’s very important that they are visited on site by the director by the DP.

I always bring the DP with me when I’m the director to go to locations. Because, you know, you can see a lot of pictures of a location online. And there’s a lot of great websites out there that like cater to booking locations that have great pictures. But until you actually go and experience the space, I don’t think you can truly know what you’re up against. And the reason I bring the DP along is because I think it’s important for them to think about their shots and think about lighting and you can talk through those things with them on site, find out where the power is all the little practical things you have to think about where can people load in?

Where can we stage everything? You know, there’s there’s so many things to think about. It’s so important to be there on site. A lot of times that’s hard when you maybe book an Airbnb that you can’t exactly go and visit. I know one example of this is the short that IDP Don, you directed the devil You know, it was an Airbnb, right? It was the the space we use the loft.

Corey Allen  3:33  

Yep. And to be clear, we also got permission from the owner to film like she was kind enough to assign a location release and the whole nine yards, but it was still very much booked through Airbnb. We only had it for the night. It was definitely just the loft downtown.

Bill Cornelius  3:52  

Yeah. And so we saw a number of pictures. And we were like, this is this is great. This is the space we want. I don’t remember if we got a floor plan or not. We did. Yeah. The problem with that is airbnbs are booked a lot of times until you actually it’s your time right to be in one. So there’s no like going and scouting the location or taking a look at it in person, which is a challenge. So we didn’t have that luxury on this shoot. And so we experienced the location for the very first time on the day of shooting. And because of that we weren’t prepared for how small the space was.

Corey Allen  4:30  

The pictures made the loft look much bigger than it actually was.

Bill Cornelius  4:34  

Yes. When you shoot on a wide lens to do location shots, it can be deceiving. And so the space was a lot smaller than we expected. I was a little bit thrown off by the room configuration when we got there. So lighting and camera. Although we had planned and had a shot list ready, we had to rethink a few things in order to pull it off. And so that’s that’s not something that’s ideal. That’s not so thing you want to run into.

So that’s why I say I recommend definitely go on site before you show up on set. Because it can be a surprise sometimes. And like you said, with location releases, that is very important. You want to make sure you get releases signed, because you’re being trusted to bring gear, bring people bring all this stuff into the space. And you want to make sure you got the proper paperwork that says you can be there. Because, you know, a lot of stuff could happen, things could break. And now there’s there’s liability, you’ve got to take into consideration.

you know, depending on the size of the place, there’s insurance that’s involved. that’s a whole nother thing you have to deal with. But I you know, do it right. Don’t Don’t run in gun and shoot someplace you’re not supposed to. I did a lot of that when I was a teenager and into college. And I don’t recommend it. It’s it’s thrilling. But the running gun, the literal running from the cops with the cameras, not not what you want to do. So I don’t recommend that.

Corey Allen  6:09  

What if there, let’s say you have maybe an out of state shoot, or maybe you’re filmmaker coming into town? Are there resources other than Airbnb? That could be a benefit when it comes to sourcing, like the right location?

Bill Cornelius  6:24  

Oh, yeah. And there’s benefits. Similar in state if you’re shooting in state where you live is your local film office. Every state’s got one, we obviously being in Nashville deal with the Tennessee Film Commission the most. They’re they’re great. You know, that’s, that’s one of the things they do to serve the industry here is, you know, help you out with locations, help you get permits, that’s a big thing that the film office is that’s that’s kind of their gig is getting you some permits.

So in addition to getting location releases, you do need permits, especially if you’re shooting on the street, you’re not like actually in a private property. You’re out in the public. We had a shoot years ago on 21st Avenue right in front of Fido Hillsboro village that was kind of city land. So I had to go to the film office and get a permit and tell them exactly from what intersection to one intersection I was shooting. And it’s literally just a certificate that says I’m able to shoot this day. So if the police asked you what’s going on, you’re good.

Sean the paper. Yes. So if you’re shooting in another state, you do the same thing. You contact their film office, and they really help you out a lot of times we we’ve had experience with some I’ve, I’ve worked with the Louisiana film office a couple times, and they’ve been really great. You’ve worked with the Virginia film office. And they were gracious, amazing. Yeah, like they want a lot of these states. They want people to come film there. And so they’re more than willing to help you secure the locations you want.

Corey Allen  8:03  

Yep, what I really liked about like the Virginia film office was, it was t shirts. Other than that was really cool. We got like, a private guided tour of the abandoned prison before she left us for the day. But like as obviously, I could not be on the ground to go and scout all these different locations. But I, I shared with her exactly what the treatment was what the idea was for the video. And she sent me several locations to take a look at and provided just a ton of insight around what would and would not be possible within each one of them.

For a couple of the privately owned areas, she gave me the contact information of the owner to reach out and continue the dialogue. But then she was also to your point like really clear on permits that would or would not be needed. In surprisingly, in Virginia. We like she gave us the okay to film anywhere on public city land as long as we had a crew of three or smaller, not including talent. And as long as we weren’t blocking any traffic or foot traffic. We could film in the middle of the road we could film basically anywhere because we were just a crew of two Yeah, plus talent.

But I would have never known that had I not engaged her. And we probably in several those scenes, several of those shots around town in my mind probably would have been a little anxious like Alright, let’s let’s wrap it up. Let’s get the shots get the shot, let’s get out of here. But I think she helps just ease that production concern of like, like we’re good. We’re clear because of the size and the scope. So

Bill Cornelius  9:41  

and that goes back to not doing it in a gorilla way because you really do relax a lot just just from having that certificate that says the state of Tennessee says I can shoot here or whatever state it is. It’s a it’s a weight off your back for sure. You can kind of relax a little bit because you are legally allowed to be shooting where you currently are?

Corey Allen  10:03  

worth it?

Bill Cornelius  10:04  

Yes, it’s absolutely worth it. And honestly, depending on where it is, I can’t speak for everything. But, you know, there’s usually a small fee associated with a permit, and it’s not that bad. First time I got a permit to shoot in Nashville was when I was in college. I had no money in college, but it was like 30 bucks. Yeah, it cost 30 bucks to print the certificate off, I think and, you know, easy.

Corey Allen  10:30  

I wish we had more national parks here. Because, you know, those were recently opened up for smaller productions.

Bill Cornelius  10:36  

Really? Oh, boy. Yeah.

Corey Allen  10:39  

Very should shoot it. Shoot a shortened Joshua Tree. Yes.

Bill Cornelius  10:43  

Let’s do it.

Corey Allen  10:44  

Alright, awesome. Bill. Thank you, as always a wealth of knowledge. I feel a lot better about figuring out my next location. For sure. Hell yeah. Yeah. All right. And for our listeners, please check us out on Instagram at infocus pod. We would love to connect with you online at infocus podcast calm. And if you liked what you heard today, go ahead and subscribe. if you’re on Apple podcast, please leave us a rating it would help us out a ton. until next time,

Bill Cornelius  11:13  

add us Subscribe, ring that bell and feature her

Corey Allen  11:18  

all those things.