View Full Version : Locations...

03-01-2006, 07:15 PM
So, our next step in really going to a new level in making our films is to get out of the house/yard/local woods and into more "real" settings. Our ideas for Hero-Fest are going to require us to find some out-in-the-public locations.

Being we're new at all this, I'm wondering how you guys have gone about using public locations. When we went and shot our footage of Walmart for sci-fest, we got chased off the properly :laugh: -- so I want to try to avoid those kinds of situations.

When are permits required? Do you go around to local neighbors and inform them you are shooting a film or do you just try to keep a low-profile and be respectful (which to me, is a GIVEN)? It's pretty obvious if you want to use (for example) the interior of a public Library you need to ask permission, so interior locations kind-of explain themselves... it's more the exterior stuff that isn't necessarily owned by anyone I wonder about.

Like, for example... Briceman (since I know you're reading this LOL) -- when you did the exterior scenes with the two girls in your sci-fest movie... how did you go about "securing" the location, and how did you carry out the shoot?

For the most part, I can see this as almost a non-question if you're just going to shoot handheld and get the footage quickly (though Walmart didn't really agree - LOL)... I'm just wondering how it plays out when you're setting up dolly tracks or hanging around a particular area for several hours.

Any insight/advice/thoughts -- I'm open to hear :happy:


03-01-2006, 08:32 PM
Yeah, it's gonna be hard to set a Super Hero story in an apartment. :grin: :grin:

03-02-2006, 08:35 PM
No replies eh?

03-02-2006, 08:48 PM
Well... I always write my scripts around the locations I know I can get (locally owned restaurants, friend's houses, my work (after-hours), backwoods parks, etc), so I don't have much insight into finding interesting locations.

Really, I just ask "where will I not get kicked out of" or "where can I find a friendly manager".... big chains will almost always say 'no' immediately.

03-02-2006, 08:52 PM
Probably depends on how your budget looks... which a lot of people don't really have too much of.

You can always bribe a few people with some money. You really just have to know WHAT locations you want first, then make them work for yourself.

That's what I've been told constantly. You have to wear your hats at seperate points in time... and I guess right now you guys should be wearing the writers hat, then the producers when the script is done. =P

Erik Olson
03-02-2006, 09:01 PM
You couldn't have picked a worse location to whip out a 100a and "steal a few shots". They're a little sensitive about DVXUsers right now - and for good reason...


For locations, it is always best to have a pitch-length description of what your project is and exactly what you plan to do at any given location.

Don't sell them short on what you'll be doing, but don't make it sound like Warner Bros. is about to descend on them either (unless that is expressly the case).

Have a location release form at-hand when you discuss the use of a given location. Better yet, have someone next to you - an assistant - with one. It is simply a formality... but would you mind...?

I would say that a full 70% of the locations I've dealt with (out of the Studio Zone) do not ask for an insurance cert. or compensation for the use of their space. Often, if it does not inhibit their business to excess, shops and other private spaces will even let you tap in for a little juice.

That said, I would recommend having a copy of your declarations (Acord Form) at the ready in case someone asks. A copy of the page with third-party property riders are the most commonly requested by property managers and those in the know.


03-02-2006, 09:23 PM

Thanks... but who do you go to for PUBLIC locations. For example, lets say there's a local public park/playground? Private locations I've pretty much got covered, or know how to cover (and in my case, it's going to involve pulling in favors :happy: hehehe) ... I'm thinking more like when it's out on a public street, in a local park, public baseball field... those kind of locations.

And yeah, I heard about the Walmart thing AFTER we had gone there :laugh: -- ooops! Hey, we got our footage anyway and it's less than 3 seconds of on-screen time.


Beat Takeshi
03-02-2006, 09:49 PM
Well...if its a public place thats not too enclosed (you can see the cops coming from a mile away) you can probably get away with it. For the Zombie fest I told everyone we were doing a promo for the freak show and thats how we got everyone to clear out for the end scene. That particular area is super crowded at all times. People from the crowd were actually helping hold back everyone until we were done. The cops on the boardwalk scared me for a sec because they come over and asked what we were doing and I said we were shooting some test footage to test out looks and stuff. The Walmart thing, yeah i think any mall would have security that just have nothing to do and are always on the look out. A park would be much easier because its more laid back. You would have to go to the mayors office to get permits if you want them and with Bloomberg, he has this program called "Made in NY" which makes it easier to get them. You even get tax write offs from the city and you can get "Made in NY" discount card for discounts for over 400 vendors. The permit is free, you get free cop assistance and you can even get locations from them. This months mayor special was court rooms.

NYC Mayors office of film, theatre and broadcasting
1697 Broadway, Suite 602
NY NY 10019

03-02-2006, 11:29 PM

Awesome! Thanks! I'll look into the "Made in NY" thing because that may help us out tremendously for some of our footage!

I expect if I go to the local little league baseball fields (assuming it's not on a game day) or similar park (out here in the suburbs) I'm not going to have any issue at all... but some of the other locations we want, I want to be prepared -- and we have some city stuff in mind :happy:

03-02-2006, 11:32 PM
Your avatar is perfect for the Hero Fest. :thumbsup:

03-02-2006, 11:38 PM
heheh thanks Blaine - I was wondering when someone would notice I'd given Opus a cape :happy:

Brandon Rice
03-02-2006, 11:41 PM
Like, for example... Briceman (since I know you're reading this LOL) -- when you did the exterior scenes with the two girls in your sci-fest movie... how did you go about "securing" the location, and how did you carry out the shoot?

Well, it was basically my friend's house, and we just were as inconspicuous as possible about it and nobody bothered us. A few people who were walking their dogs along the lake asked what we were doing, and we told them we were shooting a short film, and they were cool. The enviroment may be different here, because in LA, and the surrounding areas, it is never uncommon to just find a shoot going on whereever. Anyway, hope that helps :)

Ralph Oshiro
03-04-2006, 11:28 AM
The "Right" Way:

1. Public areas require permits from the city in which that area is located, and those permits can run from $500-$2,000/day. Sometimes, a totally different city department will handle "special" public areas (e.g. beaches). To obtain a permit, you also have to have a $1 million production liability insurance policy (about $3,000/year). Try to steal these locations.
2. Commercial property, owned by large companies, must get clearance from their corporate office--forget it.

The "Indie" Way:

1. Steal everything.
2. Shoot fast.
3. Be able to shut down/move quickly and adapt.

Commercial locations are still getable if you are able to establish a relationship with the local management. If you exlude corporate logos, anything's possible. For example, I have permission from a gas station owner to shoot anytime I want--I just have to exclude the corporate logo from all my shots. Also, I have to shut down if the police come, since I still need a permit to shoot, even on private property.

Every commercial property I've ever tried to shoot in has security. Either cameras or actual guards. Within minutes, someone always comes and tells me, "You can't shoot here." All security guards seem to know that you are definitely not allowed to shoot anything anywhere.

Ralph Oshiro
03-04-2006, 11:35 AM
When are permits required?In an area like Southern California, permits are ALWAYS required. Even if it's in your own house. It's ridculous, but true. Each city jurisdiction determines their own permitting policy and fee structure. The only exceptions are "family home video," "criminal investigation video" and actual "news photography" (the kind where you're obviously shooting for a local news station). "Student films" are NOT considered an exception to permitting. In many, many, many instances, the cops could care less and will often drive right by your set-up. In certain instances, they're on you like white on rice. Sometimes, they'll be cool and at least let you finish your shot. Sometimes they won't.

Norm Sanders
03-04-2006, 11:59 AM
SoCal is rediculous for permits ... stopping you from shooting on your own property really crosses the line, IMO. Something should be done about it. But, since I don't live in CA at all, I'll let someone else worry about it. :) Still erks me to hear it, though.

We plan on just lifting a man hole cover, and shooting all our short in the privacy of the sewers ... of course, people could freak when they hear voices coming out of their sink drains, but we'll worry about that later.

03-06-2006, 08:25 AM
Thanks for the feedback everyone -- all I can say is that I'm glad I don't live in California :shocked: hehehe

Having little "budget" to speak of, obviously we want to be smart about it. NYC gives the permits for free, but you DO have to have insurance. They also have exception for students (but you have to provide proof you're in school). I'm into photography too, so I know the whole deal with property releases and such. I'd like to do my best to "follow the rules" when possible (and actually think it's good experience to try to do so), but I imagine we'll be doing the same as a lot of indy filmmakers... covert operations, quick as possible :happy:

Brandon Rice
03-06-2006, 08:27 AM
You know, it's weird about the CA thing. I mean I've shot so much stuff, and I've never had ANY problems with law enforcement, security guards, etc. I guess a kid with a DVX, and a shotgun mic. isn't too suspicious looking.

03-06-2006, 08:36 AM
Funny you should say that Briceman... If I headed into NYC with just the camera and a couple of people I don't think I'd have a problem... thing is, some of our shots may require the dolly, and once we start setting that up we are going to draw attention to ourselves... which is why I started this thread :happy:

Brandon Rice
03-06-2006, 08:43 AM
True... dollys... lol that'd gather attention quick. I guess you gotta sacrifice sweet shots sometimes... for sweet locations.

03-06-2006, 09:24 AM
Yup, and in the end we maybe giving up the dolly... we'll have to see... though I hear baby carraiges can make good dollies... and probably good "disguises" :laugh:

Brandon Rice
03-06-2006, 09:30 AM
LOL! That might work!

03-06-2006, 10:12 AM
I haven't pulled any permits in SoCal yet...lucky, I guess. The worst thing that happened on a shoot was when we were shooting by the Metrolink. We were shooting a short with no permits when the county sheriff showed up. Apparently, the engineer from the train had called it in. They questioned us and we told them we were PSA for the local college. They warned us to steer clear of the tracks and took our names and addresses. As we were packing up two city cop cars showed up... it was time to get out of there.:shocked: But we got the shot and that's the last we heard of it. We had the camera on sticks, a boom operator and two actors in costume. :Drogar-BigGrin(DBG)

03-06-2006, 10:15 AM

You know? I've never shot a single thing in my life, other than toying around with my old Panasonic camera... nothing real. I hope I don't run into problems trying to shoot for the hero fest.

Brandon Rice
03-06-2006, 10:21 AM
My friend went and shot his short project for school on train tracks in Santa Clarita. Generally out here in the outskirts of LA county they're pretty cool. Except my friend Daniel shot a short when he was like 14. He shot at the mall in Santa Clarita, and almost got thrown out. LOL!

03-06-2006, 10:24 AM
I'll be shooting in LA/Santa Monica, and probably back in Orange County as well-- because those are the only places I know my way around. =P

Funny talking about locations and I haven't even secured the first word of a written script, yet.

03-06-2006, 04:44 PM
I was helping a friend shoot a doc on karaoke in just about every bar at the beach. We had permission from the owners to film and got signed releases from every person we filmed. Some we filmed and I had to convince to sign releases for us to use the footage. But in one bar, a very IRISH bar, we had been given permission by someone who was apparently NOT the owner...so when the REAL owner showed up (a very I-MEAN-TO-BREAK-YOUR-BONES-RIGHT-AFTER-I-BREAK-YOUR-CAMERA type guy) I could see it coming. My partner handed me the camera when we saw this guy taking aim and heading in our direction. I turned my back to him, snatched the tape outta the camera and slipped it down my shirt, packed up the gear and made for my car. THEN I went back for my partner. hahaha!!!!!