Tomorrow I’m off to Nottingham to recce for A Cautionary Tale, so I thought now would be a good time to list the questions that a filmmaker and their team should be asking when they check out a location.
- Is the mains supply beefy enough for your lighting package? Check the fuse box to see how many circuits there are for sockets and what amperage each is fused at.
- Can you access the land outside the windows to set up lights shining in?
- If you intend to use a smoke machine or hazer, can any smoke alarms be disabled?
- Is it noisy? Just because it isn’t noisy when you scout, it doesn’t mean it won’t be when you shoot. Might that road be busier the day you shoot? Are there any matches scheduled for that playing field next door? Will people be trampling around in the room upstairs? Is there a market, festival or other occasional event on? Is it on a flight path? Can any humming electrical devices be turned off? Some modern buildings have their aircon controlled remotely from other sites.
- How might weather affect the location? For example: river levels change; fields can flood; mud can make moving equipment difficult; attractive green grass can turn yellow in a drought. Don’t forget to consider tides if you’re on the coast.
- To what extent can you modify the location? Can you screw into or paint the walls? For a period piece – are there anachronisms? Can they be removed or covered?
- If outdoors, is there a toilet that everyone can use? What about somewhere to get warm at lunchtime?
- Is there space for a green room and HMUW (Hair, Make-Up and Wardrobe)? If not, is a separate base camp required and where will that be?
- Is there sufficient parking?
- Is the owner willing to sign a location release? If not, this may come back to bite you, particularly if you’re entering your film into Virgin Media Shorts or selling it to a distributor. Get them to sign before you start filming; you don’t want them to pull out when you’ve shot two of the four scenes set there.
Can you think of anything I’ve missed?
UPDATE: Leslie Lowes adds:
- Is there mobile phone coverage? Which networks?