Its the 12th of January and I finally have time to write my first blog of 2014, “Finding the best Locations.” I have spent the first 12 days of 2014 seeking and confirming locations in Outback Australia. In all, we clocked up 4630 kilometres on the road.
As a director, I am always very particular with the locations I shoot in and therefore took it upon myself to drive to the Outback and find ideal locations. Although, we do not shoot Absolute Freedom till September, I always like to get ahead of the game. The other important part of seeking out locations is that I put further reality to my scenes in the script. In other words, when I work on the next draft of the script, I will be able to see clearly the places we are shooting in and adjust the script to the realities of the location.
Half of the Film, Absolute Freedom, will be shot in the Outback. That is, 55 pages of our 105 page screenplay will be shot in the Outback and 50 pages in Sydney. Three weeks of the shoot will be in Sydney and three weeks in the Outback. So it was a big task to find and lock down all of the locations for the Outback shoot in 12 days. However, Valeska and I managed to find all of the locations and in nearly all cases lock down locations on site with the owner.
For roads, we have located the various authorities we have to get clearance off for action road scenes. As Absolute Freedom is an action adventure road movie, we will require many roads in very remote parts of Australia. It certainly will be fun shooting these scenes in September.
Here are some tips for finding and locking down locations professionally.
1. Get used to the cold call on total strangers you have never met.
In all the locations we found, nobody at all rejected our desire to shoot in their hotel or their motel or on their cattle station. It was certainly an exceptionally warm welcome. When you say the magic words, “We are shooting a movie in your town. Would you like to have your hotel in the movie?”, you generally will receive a very enthusiastic response.
2. Make sure that you speak to the owner of the location or the person who can authorise the use of the location.
This may seem like the obvious but it is surprising how many emerging film makers talk to one of the very enthusiastic staff who keeps saying yes and then turns out to have no permission to authorise a shoot. Find the person who can actually say YES
3. Location Fees for Micro budget and low budget films:
In some cases, you will have to pay a location fee but in most cases many people will gladly donate their location for costs, provided you can return the favour with a Credit and sweeteners.
4. Give Sweeteners away when you can.
If it is a hotel, make sure you have the after drinks at the location bar. This is a chance for the bar to make some money. Make sure you shoot on whatever day they are not trading or early in the morning when they are closed. Do not cost the business money. Here is a list of possible sweeteners:
- After Drinks at the Hotel Bar
- Eat at the restaurant
- Clear Credit in the closing scroll. If the film is a huge hit, it will increase the turnover for the business
- Fix something in the location
- Leave it cleaner than when you found it
- Use as many friends of the proprietor as extras in the film. Many people love this
- Wrap Party at their place
- Invites to all Premieres and Parties
There are many more sweeteners, so hopefully you get the idea of how to make your location hunt appealing to people with the locations. In my case, as our film has a reasonable budget, the location fee tends to be our sweetener.
5. Put it in Writing
Make sure you have a location agreement in writing with the clear points of agreement written down. This is a chance to make your location owner feel secure and also for you to guarantee that your location is locked down. Make absolutely sure that the business will not have paying customers arriving in the middle of your shoot. You need to own the location during shooting and use your own extras for background people.
Finding locations is a very enjoyable and simple process. Every film is a mixture of a great script with Crew, Cast, Film Equipment and LOCATIONS.
Finding locations is easy and a fun process. We always teach the process in practice on our 4 Month Film Schools in Sydney and Melbourne.
Till next Monday, have a great week.