Your script is complete and approved, now tucked comfortably under your arm as you scour the web for the perfect location to film. You can almost see the storyboard materialize in those perfect google images of New Zealand.
You’re snapped back to reality when you realize you’ll have spent the entire project budget on locations – not to mention the cost of crew travel. But here are a few things you can do to avoid a colossal mess up before you even begin your shoot.
The most effective way to save time and money during production is to have all the main locations locked down before ensuring the secondary locations are within a half an hour drive. There may be compromises and you might find the perfect location – but if it’s a two-hour drive away or involves taking a flight – you might need to reconsider.
Free or low-cost locations
There are tons of free locations that don’t involve paying a huge sum for of permits. It might be wise to utilise these or possibly even think about an indoor set if the budget noose is really tight. Keep in mind the size of your crew if you shoot indoors and whether the vehicles and crew parking will interfere with traffic or cause fire hazards.
One of the biggest headaches on an outdoor set is having appropriate access to electricity. If you decide to shoot in the middle of the desert, you’re likely to need a portable power source. Keep in mind that adding a generator to keep everything running is probably going to add a lot more zeroes to a budget already bursting at the seams. Another issue you could face is leaving the set untouched overnight – does the abandoned warehouse you’re shooting in have security in place or do you have to pay for that separately. Ask yourself these questions before you settle on a final spot to film.
Don’t forget to take pictures
This goes without saying, you can’t prepare for a scene at a location without taking loads and loads of photos. Every angle counts – even the ones the camera might not be facing. This helps the set designer and director properly envision the scenes at that location – or possibly another part of that location that could be used to film another scene. This can come in useful later on and help multiple scenes be filmed at the price of just one location! There you have it – save money and scope out some fantastic locations on a budget while keeping all the bits and bobs of the full production together.