What does a location scout do and how do you become one?
October 22, 2004 11:27 AM   Subscribe

What does a location scout do, exactly? How do you become one?
posted by gottabefunky to Work & Money (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
A location scout finds and recommends locations for shooting films/commercials. For example, a feature will be filmed in Chicago, there's a scene where a character gets lost in an old, scary cemetary with crypts. The location scout finds a cemetary in or near the filming location that will fit the crews' needs, including ensuring that the cemetary owner will agree to allow filming. Does this make sense?

You become a location scout buy contacting your local film board and picking up a copy of the local "Gold Book" and looking up location scouts. Then you contact them and ask if you can work for them (for free). You then get your name out and hope to get work.

P.S. I've always wanted to be a location coodinator for the Amazing Race. How cool would that be?
posted by Juicylicious at 11:46 AM on October 22, 2004

Juicylicious is right on about what it is and how to become one.

The only other thing I would recommend is if there is a local film school, making yourself available to them to do the job so that you have a bit of a resume. Mostly, the scouts won't care... but if there's multiple people offering their time free, it may give you a heads up or at least show you're ambitious and enthusiastic about the work. It may also make you aware that you'd hate such a job. In my experience, getting places to surrender their locations can often be a huge pain in the ass.
posted by dobbs at 12:46 PM on October 22, 2004

Lots of directors get their start as location scouts, to be a bit more general, a locations department on a film [or just the locations scout if it is small] is responsible for making sure there is enough parking for all parties, providing a holding/staging area for extras, chairs for them to sit in and all that. They are typically the first people on set and the last to leave.

Expect to work for free or just for food.
posted by sciurus at 1:09 PM on October 22, 2004

In addtion to what's already been mentioned, build a collection of photos of local sites, exterior and even interiors where possible. Take notes on not only the site itself, but what's around it. Often a site will get chosen for logistical reasons (like having ample parking nearby, enough electrical supply, or fewer neighbors to complain to police about the disruptions, etc.) and then "dressed" to look like the location described in the script. So a school may become the secret government lab, or a pasture will double for that cemetary, etc. Anyone can open a phone book and turn to "cemetaries" so the location scout's greatest value is in spotting the better, non-obvious substitute.

Also, try to notice local features that could double for those of other towns/cities. This is the kind of information which can save hundreds of thousands of dollars for a production (moving those tons of equipment and hundreds of people is a nightmare), while bringing millions into the local economy when the local film bureau. Cities like Pittsburgh and Toronto have built whole industries around looking vaguely like NYC and DC, for instance.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 3:45 PM on October 22, 2004

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