Deciding which scenes to film on location or in a studio can be a tricky task. Scoping out locations, deciding on props, and arranging transport can be a big job. While it can seem tempting to film most of your production on set, this can be very expensive, and working at unique filming locations can add real value to your finished film.

Although there are unique obstacles to filming on location, such as unfavourable weather, and outside noise, making sure to have some scenes shot on location will add authenticity to your story. It will also free up your art department and construction crew, who will have less sets to build with on location shoots.

By planning out your location filming properly by thoroughly researching and being resourceful, you can make sure your chosen location is perfect, and you can shoot your scene with as few problems from the public or your technology as possible.

Why is location important for filming?

Choosing the right location for a scene can help set the tone and get across the mood and atmosphere of your film, without a single word of dialogue being said. The location can make the audience feel a certain way, and often the location can become iconic, and the reason a movie is remembered and cherished. The perfect location will also be good for those on the other side of the camera, and it’s equally important that where you decide to film serves the needs of your crew.

How much does it cost to hire a film location?

Hiring a film location can be a costly business. The broad range of prices varies from around £500 a day up to £5,000. It’s often more expensive for bigger crews to use a space, so think about only bringing team members that you definitely need.

It also takes time to get a permit. Screen Manchester, the Film Office for Manchester, who facilitate the film and TV enquiries and applications for the city and provide production companies with an easy to use application platform said: “Processing filming permits can take anything from 2-3 working days for small scale shoots, and up to 4-6 weeks for large scale productions with road closures, traffic management, stunts and special effects.” This shows that having a smaller crew on location can also save time in getting a permit, as well as money.

Choosing the location

Deciding on the location of the filming takes a lot of research and there is a balancing act between finding the perfect spot, and one that is within budget and close enough to your main set. Key things to remember when scouting for your location are:

Aesthetic: The most obvious thing to look out for when searching for the location is the way it looks. Make sure to be consistent with the rest of the film, and to ensure the scene reflects the script.

Time of day: Scout your location out at the time of day you will actually be filming. This will let you know what the noise pollution will be like when you are filming, and will help you assess the lighting, making sure the sun will work for your shots.

Permission: Make sure you seek permission from the local council or owner of the private property well ahead of time. This will mean you have time to find a backup location if you don’t manage to get your first choice.

Logistics: Make sure that your location is close enough to your main site as possible, but that there is also enough room for all of your equipment, and parking for staff.

Price: Most location owners will charge a large fee for use of their property, especially if it means lost business for them. Be prepared to try and negotiate the price if the location ticks all of your boxes.

Setting up infrastructure

Once your location is sourced, you will need to assess what essential infrastructure you will need at the location. Make sure to account for make-up, storage, parking, toilets, and energy and water supplies.

You will need to map out exactly where everything should go, and plan timings for what will arrive first and last. Some elements of your infrastructure may be blocked in, so ensure that anything that may need to leave early to go to another set is strategically placed.

Bringing equipment

Bringing your essential equipment is one of the most vital parts to filming on location. It is important to bring everything you need, making a list that will include cameras, microphones, costumes and props.

Being on location as opposed to a set does leave your film equipment more prone to damage, and transporting between locations can often lead to fragile components breaking. We have lots of experience of working within the broadcast industry, and can help ensure that your vital equipment remains safe and secure. Our custom made foam inserts can be adapted to any product and case, so you have one less thing to worry about when searching for your location. Expensive props need protection too, and we have plenty of experience making custom foam inserts for a variety of unusual objects, showing just how adaptable our industrial packing foam can be.

Many directors will rely on film equipment insurance when considering the risk of having equipment on location, but there is no substitute for properly protecting your equipment. Often, a film can be knocked behind schedule if the crew are waiting for replacement equipment that has broken.

Protect your equipment with MSA

Having worked on many projects in the broadcast industry, we at MSA have plenty of experience with ensuring filming equipment is packaged safely. Our team can help to find a packaging solution to fit your specific needs, and our foam cutting service can ensure that any item, no matter how big or small, can be kept safe.

Get in touch with a member of our team to find out how we can protect your film equipment from damage.