This summer, our own Professor Federico Muchnik published his book “The Strategic Producer: On the Art and Craft of Making Your First Feature” and it’s already getting great reviews. Recently, The Independent published an excerpt from the chapter about location scouting. In plain terms it covers all the details of finding a great spot and filming there.
Below are a few choice paragraphs, and you can read the whole chapter here.
Pro tip: Prof. Muchnik teaches Production & Management, a required class. Get a jump-start on your homework by reading this now!
Does the location align with the script and the director’s vision?
As a producer you have to pay attention to your director’s vision. If a script calls for a warehouse scene, you, your location scout, or the director may scout out a half dozen warehouses. Each warehouse comes with a different set of characteristics and conditions which you’re going to learn about as we go through this list.
Your director may want the warehouse by the beach because it aligns with their vision, but you may not because the location owner wants too much money and won’t negotiate. The warehouse near the turnpike is free and kind of looks like the one on the beach. After all, a warehouse is a warehouse. If your director won’t budge and persuades you that the beach warehouse is different enough from all other warehouses, and if they tell you that using the turnpike warehouse will compromise their vision to the point of damaging the film, perhaps you need to revisit your location fee line item in your budget and see if you can either up the overall amount or redistribute part of the existing amount to accommodate the beach warehouse.
Conversely, you can determine that your director’s vision will be just fine in the turnpike warehouse and that there’s simply no money in the budget to clear the beach warehouse.
In both cases, there will be consequences that may or may not work in your favor. For example, by giving in and clearing the beach warehouse you’ve gained leverage for future negotiations with your director; “Look, I got you the beach warehouse, cut me some slack on the restaurant location, okay?” By clearing the turnpike warehouse you may have to compromise on something later on; “Okay, I agree. We cut corners on the warehouse scene – let me see what I can do about the restaurant.”