The more ambitions your video production requirements are, the more likely you’re going to find yourself in need of specific locations to produce your films. Before you can start filming, it is not uncommon to visit the location to make sure it meets your production requirements from both a creative and practical point of view. Here are six things to look out for when performing a location recce. Even if you’re not officially part of the production team, it is handy to know what to keep your eyes out for.
1) Transport links + Parking
Production days have a tendency to be long. Ease of access for the cast and crew is essential if you want to ensure you’re production gets off on time. The crew will love you (even more) if there are good transport connections nearby. When a production overruns, it can be terribly distracting when at the back of your mind the clock is ticking ever closer to that last train.
Many departments will travel to the location either by car or by van. Nearby parking is essential because the production team will need to unload their vehicles and shouldn’t have to carry their equipment very far. Camera, Lighting, Hair, Make up and Costume are the departments most likely to arrive in vehicles.
The size of the production footprint can be really quite surprising. When you are scoping a potential location always factor in enough space for the lights and the camera and the small army of people who will sit behind the monitor. If you’re using a larger camera such as the Arri Alexa, it’s not inconceivable that you might also be using a dolly too. In this scenario you might also need to make allowances for the size of camera track you will need.
3) Department Offices
If your production is of a certain size, it is likely that you will need a dedicated space for a few different departments. Part of the location recce is to determine if the location has enough space to accommodate everyone and everything you need. Featured talent such as actors often have a lot of time to kill whilst the production team are setting up. This is precisely why a green room is a good idea as it allows a space for your actors to hang out whilst they wait. You can also house the hair, make-up and costume department in this space too.
The size of the spaces allocated to the hair, make up and costume department will vary based on the amount of people they have to look after. The larger the cast the more people you will have working in these departments = the more space they will require.The camera department will also require a space to build the camera as well as to download the footage. The grip and the lighting department might also need a space to call their own as well.
Video productions can be very power hungry operations. It’s really important that you have a handle of what your energy requirements might be. Many lights these days are LEDs which is great because LEDs are both cooler and less power guzzling than their traditional incandescent relatives however because not all lights are yet LEDs, it means that it is possible to find yourself in a situation where your power requirements exceed what is possible from your location.
In this situation the gaffer should give you a steer. Regardless of the need for a generator, a good tip is to walk around the location to count how many power points you can find and double check with the building owner that they are all functioning.
A critical part of any recce is establishing there are working toilets nearby – your production team really won’t get far without them. If your location doesn’t have toilets and you absolutely can’t film elsewhere you might have to consider hiring a honey wagon however If you only have a small crew you might consider shifting your production office to a nearby coffee shop which will likely thank yo for the custom and allow you to use their facilities. If you have a crew larger than five people we wouldn’t recommend this approach.
When you hire a professional production company like Element 26 Ltd to produce your film, one of the first things we will when undertaking a recce is a thorough risk assessment. It might sound obvious but it is impossible to foresee every possible risk you might encounter – there are just too many variables. One final bit of advice we recommend is to bring a camera along and to take as many pictures as you can. Thankfully most of us these days are carrying around a pretty decent camera in our pockets. Interestingly, the photo in the header of this blog was taken on an iPhone so in most cases, a camera phone is perfectly adequate.