The World of Locations

Generally the first step is to read the screenplay (if possible for the film commission to share with you, or a location breakdown provided by the film commission) or view the storyboards in order to provide the filmmakers with photography for potential locations that will work for the script. The film commission needs to have an extensive online digital location library (and to provide filmmakers online access to this library) for the efficiency of compiling a selection of photos from an Internet photo-sharing site, accessible from any computer.

As a film liaison, you may have your own database of photographs, but it is advisable that the film commission at least have access to these photographs (if not the same photos in the commission’s library) as the commission will invariably be the primary contact with the client/filmmaker and you want to have as much exposure for your region as possible.

Concurrently, the filmmaker is going to want to know if you have a deep, experienced crew base that will keep the filmmaker(s) from having to spend more money by bringing in crew from out-of-town. Again, this might be something that the film commission will need to answer. Are there municipal locations that can be provided for free? Do the local vendors have the necessary equipment, limiting the need for filmmakers the costly transport of equipment into the region?

Once you have someone considering your jurisdiction for filming, you will need to act as quickly as possible. The first thing you need to do is to determine what kinds of locations the client is looking for and you must be honest about whether you have what they need or not.

If you don’t have the right location photography on hand you may need to go out and search for the perfect locations. In all cases, it’s important to determine exactly when the photos are needed. You must be honest with the client about when you can deliver pictures — and then be sure to meet your commitment. At this point in production, your client is often on a short deadline and needs to know exactly when to expect your information. We are so fortunate to have tools such as Google Earth and Google Images, which in a pinch came help you supply photographic representation of various locations.

If the film commission can offer the resource of sending out a location scout at no expense to the filmmaker to shoot specific locations for them, it is in the best interest of the commission to do so.

These days, there are a number of great software tools to help sort and store digital photographs, preferably with a searchable function. Some film commissioners create their own system or use a system called Reel Scout in addition to images found on social media sites and photo sharing sites like Flicker. These systems are imperative in order to create electronic location packages that can be used to showcase the kinds of locations you offer. One of the most valuable things you can obtain is a location breakdown (the film commission may create one from reading the script), which is a list of required locations along with information about how they will be used and what they may need to look like.

You should be aware that you may be asked to sign a confidentiality agreement (sometimes called a non-disclosure agreement) with a production company, promising that you will not divulge information about a particular screenplay. You may want to check with a lawyer to determine whether you are able to sign agreements such as these. Find out beforehand rather than running into problems when you need that approval immediately.