How does the everyday life looks like for a location scout? And what actually happens before a production is set to take place on a certain location?
HOW DOES IT WORK?
We are housing Producers, Assistants, Creatives and more. But the most common questions we get from people outside the industry is: What is a Location Scout? How is it to be a Location Scout? And how does the work procedure look like?
We provide true authentic locations, full service productions and can get any crew and almost whatever gears they have to remote locations no one else will.
For us it’s critical to know our surroundings, weather conditions, permits, connecting with the locals and so on. Therefore we choose to focus on areas we fully know and master. Our Location Scouts must have deep knowledge about various types of productions and what each of them require so that we can provide an efficient, hasslefree and smooth service.
Sometimes we get assistance from guides and locals with unique knowledge and expertise about a specific area. Thanks to these collaborations we got to know our selected areas better than anyone else, and can provide hidden gems and true authenticity.
Almost each production starts with us getting a request from a client overseas asking for help with production services including location scouting.
Sometimes the client already have specific locations they found online, and want us to ”secure” it. Other times they have a moodboard and need us to start from scratch and find unique and unused locations.
Our Producers makes sure to fully understand the purpose of our clients story. We choose sites that matches the settings of the story, either it is a feature film, crime series, automobile shoot or a fashion campaign. We choose locations that lends themselves to the story.
Once we know what we are looking for, the first thing we do is to go through our comprehensive library of locations. We have everything from remote areas in the far north, to deserts, cities, beaches, landmarks and modern architecture. If we are lucky we already have up-to-date locations in our archive which the client are happy with, otherwise we need to hit the road.
Since our Location Scouts are working on day rates and have limited amount of time, it’s critical that they come home with high quality options after a scout. This means we always decide in advance exact which areas to visit, how much time is allowed to spend at each location and so on.
Being out on a location scout can last for several days and is usually quite lonely. You spend early mornings and late nights by yourself capturing the surroundings. During a scout you glance at locations and immediately know whether or not the area will be suitable for film or stills. You register how the light lands on a building or mountain top, you experience the accessibility of an area and what would be required to bring crew and gears to the location.
It’s critical that we already now know that we will be able to ”secure” the location. With other words, verify that the locations are physically accessible at the time for production and that we can get permit to shoot there.
Once all information is collected and our scout is satisfied it’s time to wrap up and close shop!
Once we have been out on a location scout we usually find the nearest coffee shop, find as quiet corner and order tons of java. Since the client often expects the result from the scouting to come in the same day, it’s critical that we put together a presentation as soon as possible.
After this the client needs to go through the locations, creative department needs to be involved, the photographer has to approve, and then there are producers, marketing people and other decision makers these locations has to go through before it’s a final GO! This means that after a location scout we can usually expect a couple of days of calm before the storm.
To make it easy for clients during the decission process we try to be pro-active and include all necessary and as much detailed information as possible. We believe every detail counts, therefore we provide photos in high resolution for each location. In most cases also video and mood of the location. We try to take photos during the specific time of the day/night our clients planning their production. We also deliver alternative angles and ideas we think could be of interest. A vital part of any storyboarding process.
EXAMINE THE ELEMENTS
Sun, rain, wind, snow, heat, cold, moisture from waterfalls, salty beaches, — all can help or hurt. We always need to be up to date with the local forecast. We use sun-apps and geo-tags so we have all info about sunrise, sunset, daylight and shadows. Some of our most used apps are Sunseeker (which is a must) and YR.no, a very accurate weather app. Taking up natural sound is also often critical when it comes to filmmaking. It might be nearby traffic, white noise of moving water, wind or wild animals. Therefor we offer our clients sound-reports of each location.
On a regular basis we also use following websites and apps to collect as much information as possible regarding weather forecast, earthquakes, tides, trails, floodings and so on:
Iceland Met Office
…and a few other sources depending on locations where you might need more detailed information about coordinates, altitude and wind.
Fast forward to Recce Day(s). Client has decided that this is the location they want to go for. During this time our Producers have arranged with permits from police, municipality and land owners. We have solved crew, catering, equipment, transportation, schedules, accomodation and everything that needs to be in place before a successful production.
Depending on size of production there will be one or more Recce Days just before the shoot starts. This usually means that clients, creatives, photographers and producers visits the exact locations that has been appropved. This so they get to see the location IRL before the shoot, and can make up a detailed plan for the following day. It’s also an opportunity to make some last minute adjustments if something is missing.
As a Location Scout or Producer you are always prepared for something to change this day, but if you have done proper pre-production research then you have at least minimized any possible risks for this to happen.
If everything goes as planned then the Location Scout signs off after the Recce Day. From here on it’s the local Producer that runs the show. But it’s not unusual that the Location Scout takes on another role during the production. It could be as Production Assistant, Fixer, Coordinator or similar. Sometimes the presence of the Location Scout during a shoot is also needed due to unique expertice about a certain area.
Thanks for all the hard work and effort in making this work for us. I will certainly recommend you for other potential projects.
Head of Art Buying / The&Partnership