When you’re starting a film production, you have more on your mind than you might care to think about. There are scripts to finalize, storyboards to edit, acting talent to hire, and more.
But you can’t overlook one of the most important first steps of all, which is choosing between filming locations and establishing a successful relationship with them early on.
This is vital for making sure your working relationship goes smoothly throughout the entire production. Like most relationships, being open and respectful with everyone involved can mean you don’t have to worry about any unnecessary hang-ups during your shoot.
But how do you set yourself up for a successful partnership with your location’s owner and staff? Isn’t that a lot of extra work you don’t want to be dealing with?
Actually, building a relationship with your location’s owner and staff doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking; in fact, some of the ways you can build this connection are small actions that are already connected to the production process and won’t take any more than a few minutes of your time.
So here are 5 tips for creating those successful relationships with your filming locations:
Start early -
The phrase “the early bird gets the worm” may be most accurate when talking about film production.
The pre-production stage is vital in making sure you scout out filming locations and get the one(s) you want. Not all film locations are created equal; some will be in higher demand than others, and some may be busier in specific times of the year (like during the summer for weddings).
Additionally, if your pre-production team is on top of things and are able to find a venue quickly, you’re going to have an easier time working out a shooting schedule with the venue owner or staff as opposed to trying to squish in a few scenes last-minute.
Basically, the sooner you start your pre-production process, the more likely you are to secure the setting and schedule you want with less hassle in the long run.
Follow the rules and advice of the venue owner -
Speaking of coordinating with the venue owner, this is an area you can’t overlook.
It’s important to follow everything the venue owner tells you in regards to your production. All filming locations have rules you’ll need to follow, but you can’t assume they’re the same across the board.
As such, make sure you and your team learn exactly what you’re allowed to do (and not) from the location’s owner and staff, despite what you may have done at other settings in the past. This will reduce the chances of a misunderstanding or conflict of interest.
Finally, note that the venue owner and staff aren’t just rule-makers, but they’re also an important source of information and advice regarding the location’s oddities. If they warn you of a wobbly pathway stone or mention a secluded area ideal for a scene, it’s best to listen!
Respect the property -
Just as you need to respect the venue owner’s rules and advice, you also need to remember you’re simply a “visitor.”
Always respect the physical space of and objects in the filming location(s) you chose. It’s owned by someone else and isn’t yours to do anything with as you’d like. Don’t start digging up shrubs you don’t want in your shot unless you’ve pre-approved such actions with the owner.
Along these lines, make sure you report any accidents to the location’s owner right away. If a cameraman accidentally swings a tripod around and pokes a hole in a hallway, for example, it’s in your best interest to let the management know right away so the situation can be fixed (and so it doesn’t cause unnecessary problems between you two later).
Keeping a healthy respect for the filming location won’t go unnoticed by the owner; you’ll establish a trust that will likely lead to more work and collaboration in the future.
Leave everything as it was, or better -
There’s nothing more frustrating than cleaning up after messy party guests, so remember that when you’re at a filming location, you’re the “party guests” there.
When you’ve wrapped production at your location, make sure you leave it looking as clean and organized as it was when you arrived. This is a common courtesy overlooked by many film crews that can make a world of difference in how the venue owner views your team and professionalism.
If you want to impress the property owner and staff even more, you can take things to the next level. Leave a thank-you note and gift, or have your team do the cleaning (if your schedule and the venue staff allow it).
Gestures like this enhance your reputation in the eyes of the location staff, which means they’re more likely to spread the word about your film and/or production services. Everybody wins!
Credit/recommend the location -
This may seem obvious, but sometimes the smallest things get overlooked.
Filming locations deserve to be noted in the credits of your film. This is standard practice, because it ensures the property gets due attention for its role in your production. After all, your film wouldn’t be what it was without the settings.
Also, when you’re talking with colleagues who need a fantastic venue or location, recommend the property you worked with. The more you do this, the more likely the property owner will be able to recommend you to his/her friends who need film production work done for their businesses.
While these may appear to be small nods of appreciation, they’re the final step in building a successful relationship with the filming location you chose.
There’s no doubt that undertaking an entire film production is a lot of work. However, the chore can be made easier when you follow these tips for a hassle-free experience at your filming locations.
You and the locations or venue you used will come out of the production with a long-lasting relationship you’ll both benefit from for years to come.
Which of these tips have you found the most success with in establishing a great partnership with your filming location?