Tips for Finding a Great Film Location

Posted on November 7, 2017

1. Go Digital

While having an official location scout is still necessary for big budget productions, you may be able to virtually scout a location. Using this approach is also useful for doing a preliminary look before you go and see a location in-person.

Here’s a few online location tools that you can access from your desktop:

Locations Hub

Locations Hub is a really great website for scouting because it is entirely dedicated to locations for film…not photography. This is important because a lot of locations that are great for photography aren’t that well suited for filmmaking due to noise, traffic, etc.. You’ll also find detailed maps, pictures, and website links to film commissions here. The best part is Locations Hub is completely free to use. However, many locations on Locations Hub will charge you to shoot there so be sure to do your research.

Flickr Map Search

On top of being a really great photo sharing website, Flickr can be a really useful tool for location scouting. Using Flickr’s map search users can see where photos were shot on a detailed map. Flickr’s extensive user base also makes it really great if you are looking for something specific. Users can search their area by keywords so if you need to find a “grungy blue wall” you can easily search for one

2. Contact the Local Film Commission

If you’re shooting a big production than odds are you already contacted your local film office to get film permits. A film commission is also a great place to contact when you are looking for a potential shooting location. Many film commission websites will have detailed maps and photos of popular shooting locations in their area. More often than not, film commission are happy to work with filmmakers coming to their area to shoot.

3. Tour In Person & Take Lots of Pictures

It almost goes without saying, but touring a location before the day of the shoot is a must. While you’re location scouting take along your phone to capture pictures of you location that you can share with your producers, lighting director, sound recordist, set designer, and anyone else who will be a leader on set.

There are also a lot of really good apps that can help you with capturing your potential locations like Panascout and Map-A-Pic. Both of these apps allow you to not only capture photos with cinematic cropping, but also record the location that the photos were shot.

5. Take Audio Seriously

While you’re at a location, talk, clap, and listen to hear if there is anything to be concerned about.