One of the first things you need to do in preproduction is to find the location or locations that you will use while shooting your client’s commercial. How do you lock down a location that does not make your production go over budget? In this movie, author Richard Harrington and guest Rachel Longman discuss things to consider when location scouting for a commercial.
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- It's time to pick locations, and one of the first things you need to get out of the way is any budget limitations. It's important to realize that every time you have to pack up an entire crew and move them, that that could be two to four hours per move. - That's right, you have to remember that when you move all that gear in, you've gotta move it back out and do it again. So that could take a good while. So you wanna pick flexible spaces. - So what we're looking for, ideally, is a location that can support everything. In this case, we needed a home. And for this, we needed to find a house that had all of the things we needed.
A good living room, a good kitchen, a children's bedroom, a hallway, all of these scenes. A good exterior that looked like a nice enough house that was still for a middle-class family. And so, we have to balance all of these things out. And, of course, finding one of these homes is kinda tricky, right? - It can be kinda tough. A lot of times, I had to use, different filming associations are a good help for me finding homes, but, realtor friends, I've done that before, and friends of friends. I've done that one before too. But there's a lot of aspects you have to think about, like, also, not even the home, but where are people gonna park? Where are you putting your big grip truck? Where are you gonna put all these big things that you're gonna have to bring into this house? - And in the case of this particular project, which is about a foreclosed home, we had to make sure that we conveyed to the people that we were going be using their space that for a very short time period, we were gonna be putting a foreclosure sign outside of their home for that scene, which we quickly took down, because even still, neighbors came over, "Their house is foreclosed?" No, we're shooting a commercial.
That's what all this crew and cameras are for. Their house is not foreclosed. But you have to convey that. And people may also ask to know how much you're willing to pay them. Rarely will you get locations for free, and you typically have to provide insurance. - Yeah, you usually have to do a certificate of insurance to show that if I break something, we can replace it. The biggest thing is to be transparent with them. Especially if it's a home location, a lot of people aren't used to having a lot of film gear, so they need to understand what exactly that entails, 'cause every single time I go into a home location, they're like, whoa, on the actual shoot take, 'cause they don't realize how much stuff is in there.
- So, we have a whole course available here in the online library that's gonna help you with actual site surveys and what you should be thinking about. Be sure to watch that course to get some insight into our process for doing it, but a couple of the other things we point out is that you want to make sure that the space can accommodate all of the angles, and if it can't, you might actually find yourself slightly changing the script, right? - [Rachel] A lot of times, we will have to adjust certain scripts. Also, don't cancel out a home because it's a boy's bedroom or a girl's bedroom, because in this spot was actually a boy's bedroom and I turned it into a girl's bedroom.
So-- - Yes, but we put it back before the boy got home, (Rachel chuckles) otherwise he would've not been happy with this. So, yeah, you have to sometimes think outside of the box. Remember, rarely will you find a perfect location. You're looking for a good canvas that, with a little bit of art direction, adding of some props, and some changes, it's going to work. You'll be surprised how much you can manipulate with lighting and color and gels and props. You just need something that looks about right. Now, sometimes it's useful to get documentary-style photos that simply give you the location and let you see what's there, but a lot of times, I wanna be able to actually simulate shots and play with things like depth of field.
A location might look too busy when it's all in focus, but a little bit of shallow depth of field or rack focusing, and you could find that a location is absolutely perfect. If you can't go, I think it's pretty important that either the director and the producer or the director of photography and the producer travel together. Why do you like to bring the DP along? - They can visualize a lot more than I can in a scene. They look at a scene very differently than I do. They're looking at the angles, they usually bring their lens that they're actually probably gonna shoot with with them, so they actually see the scene and what it can transform to better than I can.
- Yeah, and the last thing you wanna do is have your DP show up on the day of shoot going, "I can't make this work." So, this is gonna let them make intelligent decisions about what sort of lights need to be rented, what sort of crew needs to be brought in, are there any special equipment. Again, check out that site surveys course. It's gonna give you a lot of practical ideas, but these are all things that come in handy, and we'll walk you through our own site location more a little bit later in this course.
- Meeting the project and team
- Writing the script
- Casting actors
- Scouting for locations
- Creating schedules and budgets
- Shooting scenes
- Retiming footage
- Color grading
- Compressing for delivery