Facilities to build sets are not always available or, they do not fit exactly what the script calls for. At that point what you’re left with is to find a location to film your scene.
Depending on the geographical area, locations vary wildly in cost. If you’re in an area used for filming, prices can go sky-high. Filming in that area is the lifeblood and anyone will live on it from the bum in the street to the real estate agent. But if you’re some place where no one ever sees anyone shooting anything, you can get the set for free and the owners will be very proud to let you shoot on their premises.
I remember one time going into a building in Barstow, California. I asked if we could shoot on the premises. The guy looked at me as if I was from Mars. Whereas in Hollywood or Beverly Hills if you ask, just about any place, the right to film on their premises, the first word is “how much are you paying?”
Anyhow, it is no wonder that large movie studios decided to establish themselves in Hollywood. The variety of landscapes that you can lay your hands on in southern California is just beyond imagination. You’ll find lakes, mountains, snow, deserts, ocean, hills, green fields, rocks, cities, canyons, highways, small roads, mansions, tall buildings, individual homes of all types, churches, airfields, airports small and large, subways, train stations, harbor – fishing, tourist, industrial, you name it, it is a place full of resources and easy access. And to top it all the weather is just about perfect the year-round.
Over the years location scouting has changed quite a lot. Scouts used to be on the road all the time hunting for the exact spot that will match the exact scene. Now, internet has changed all this. You have a vast amount of locations at your fingertips right there on the web. And before investing anymore time going out, you can choose what will most likely suit your needs.
There are numerous organizations ready to help you find exactly what you need for your film. In fact, each city hall has personnel assigned to film permit. And they will guide you among the administrative labyrinth that varies from city to city. You may have to survey the area and minimally, you’ll have to give notice to the inhabitants of your filming project.
Sometimes it is tricky to settle exactly who’s in charge of that particular territory – because it is in the middle of nowhere and literally, there is no indication miles away to tell whom that part of the land belongs to or it can be right in the middle of the city but someone has preempted the right to film there and you better find the right people to not create any wasted time and motion.
Google maps will allow you to verify the locations even before you get there. You still need to scout it once you’ve finalized your pick, to verify that all elements are all as expected and will definitely fit the bill. But the time gained with the internet versus the time spent in previous years to find the right spot has easily 20x.
Anyway, once you pick your location, you’ll have your set for filming on a silver platter.