Location, Location, Location

Posted On November 12, 2008

How to Sell Your Soul-11.jpg

It’s funny how much I take film slang for granted.

So to start from the beginning, there are six stages in making and releasing a movie: Development, Pre-Production, Production, Post-Production, Distribution, Exhibition.

Usually Development can take the longest – that’s when you’re writing the script, trying to get funding, trying to get Greenlit. When you hear it took a movie 7 years to get made, this is the name for the first 6 years.

Fortunately, the script is just getting tweaked and we have funding. So onto Pre-Production.

There are two main things that need to get done in pre-production: locations and casting.

Location Scouting is when you ((‘You’ being the Producer and Director and possibly Director of Photography and Production Designer)) drive around to potential locations and check them out to see if they would work for the film.

Location scouting is my favorite part. I feel like the authenticity of a film depends on the locations, along with how much work the Production Designer will have to do. A great location can add so much value and production quality to a film.

Scouting is important because it’s obviously necessary to make a sure a location works both aesthetically and logistically instead of having 20 people show up to find out the location doesn’t work.

It all comes down to good planning. The more time you spend planning, the better the production will go (ex: 91 Set-Ups in 3 Days).

So the script has two main locations: a police station and pig farm. The pig farm is proving hard to find and is a story for a future post. For the police station, Iman, the director, just needed an open-office type area.

Since my last film involved cubicles, I’ve seen most of the large office spaces in Tallahassee, and our local newspaper has some of the finest selections. Plus I’ve filmed there twice before, so I know they’re film friendly.

Iman and I went to check it out. The only problem is the side all past film shoots have been on is the Advertising side. This time we were checking out the News Room side, which was a little more high strung.

When you are location scouting, it’s a good idea to take pictures to refer back to when decision making. Every past time I’ve gone scouting I’ve asked if I could take pictures, and everyone has always said yes. So for some reason I took a leap of faith here, plus I had this weird logic that since this is a news room, they must be used to photographers, so no one would mind.

Well, I snapped off one pic before I got asked what I was doing.

“Oh, I’m just taking a picture for reference. We’re location scouting.”

“Location scouting, what is that? I thought you guys were coming in December.”

Yes, I had briefly mentioned some potential dates over the phone, and I guess she thought we were there to film because I had my little digital camera out.

It’s funny, this isn’t the first time someone thought when we showed up to check out a location we were there to film the movie. It also makes me wonder if that means they would be totally fine with a crew just showing up with just a vague, “Hey, we might be stopping by to shoot a film in a few weeks.”

How to Sell Your Soul-17.jpg
Now that’s a camera

But I think it was this misunderstanding, thinking that we were there to film a movie, that led to the hesitation about taking pictures, because staff was in them and they hadn’t been notified.

So lesson learned, always, always ask before taking pictures. But the location was exactly what Iman wanted, and I think things have smoothed over enough where we can film there. Well, smoothed over enough where I can give them a call back.


This post is part of the Moviccino, taking you through the production of a movie from start to finish.

Written by Joey Daoud

Joey Daoud is an award-winning documentary producer. When not filming he likes to climb mountains and brew coffee.

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