First, the Producers, Director, and if hired, the Production Manager and Location Manager will shortlist available locations together based on aesthetics, price, and availability.
Once locations are shortlisted, another tour happens with department heads and several members of Production. This is often called a tech scout.
Today, I will be giving you a list of questions to ask – a checklist for your team to have a successful tech scout. The goal is to support you in coming to the best decision in selecting the location for your shoot.
Tech Scout Questions
The first question to ask is does the location have enough space?
It’s important to not underestimate how big your cast, crew, extras, your equipment, and your video village may be.
If you are scouting an exterior or a backlot, where does the sun rise and set?
Keep in mind where the sun is and will be for your schedule. (Check this app called “Sun Seeker” to see where the sun will be at what time.)
Does the overall aesthetic align with the creative brief?
Is it within the budget? Is there an additional cost associated with the location?
Does this location mean additional parking or restroom or trash or additional permit fees or HMU / Wardrobe trailer?
Is it logistically feasible? Is it in a thirty-mile zone, how close is it to your base of operations?
Are there any liabilities or safety concerns?
Will the location require additional hires?
Any additional clearance? Are there any logos, images you will need to cover?
❓ Where we will:
- set the basecamp
- set the vanities (hair, makeup, wardrobe)
- stage the equipment
- hold the talent
- hold the extras (if any)
- Set up the catering/lunch area
- Set up crafty
🚗 Ensure there is enough parking for:
- Production vehicles (Production, Camera, G&E, Art trucks, picture cars, etc.)
- Cast & Crew Vehicles
- Extras (if any)
- Shuttles (if any)
Are there any parking lots nearby? If so, talk to them for pricing and contact info.
Can we park the production vehicle close by or on the property? Or will we unload and leave?
Is there a restroom on the property? Will it be enough for cast & crew?
Will we need a portable restroom? If so, where will we put it?
Where is the closest hospital with an emergency room? (Check this website ushospitalfinder.com)
How accessible are the shooting spots for cast, crew, and equipment? Is there an elevator?
Learn the rules on which elevator you need to use to bring up equipment.
What are the trash rules? Do we need to rent a dumpster? Can we use bins at the location?
👉 Production will have a lot of trash and waste. Learn their policy before you lock the location.
Is there an AC? How is the air filtration?
Consider your entire cast & crew. Will you need fans?
Is there WiFi to use? Can the cast and crew use it?
Do mobile phones work? Is there enough phone reception?
What restaurants are nearby for lunch? What are their hours and catering policies?
Is the neighborhood ‘filming-friendly’?
👉 Inquire about the neighborhood from both the owner and the film permit office.
Does using this site require the hiring of a police officer to stop foot or street traffic?
Remember to bring a camera and take many photos of the location for other team members to view later.
What would be the camera moves?
👉 Director and DP should spend time going over angles in tech scout.
Where will we put the video village?
Is there any additional equipment needed?
If you are planning to film with a drone, keep in mind you are legally not allowed to fly a drone in certain areas. Double-check to make sure your location is not in no-fly-zone.
If outdoors, what are the natural light and weather conditions?
If indoors, is there any overhead lighting? Can it be turned off?
How many working outlets are there? How much power can they pull? Where is the power breaker?
👉 Check breakers & outlets. Understand power limitations
How many stingers will be needed to power to set? How long will they need to be?
Will we need generators?
Where will we stage the equipment?
[box] Right after tech scout, additional types of equipment can be added to the equipment list. By this time, the lists should go out to vendors for bids.[/box]
👉 Sound is an important factor that is often disregarded in the location scout. Having an ‘open-ear’ and listening for any potential distractions will save you from troubles during the shoot.
Is it in a location that’s appropriate for sound? Is it close to a freeway, a construction site, a noisy airport, traffic, factories, etc?
Is there any HVAC or Appliances (like refrigerators) that are making noise? Can we turn them off?
Sound and production should converse to make sure the coolers and refrigerators, which may be creating noise, are not being considered to be used for crafty.
Is there any reverberation? (Echo, echo, echo…)
If it is a house, remember to ask to the location owner:
Are there any gardeners or workers planned?
Do they have any pets that can make noise?
[box] If you are using the van or a shuttle for the tech scout, remember to equip your vehicle with a cooler full of cold drinks and snacks.[/box]
By asking the right questions, you will be setting yourself up to success.
Happy scouting all!
Special thanks to Erik Andrews for co-writing this one with me.
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