Writing your film was hard enough already. The next step is to actually go out and film it. Unless you plan to film every single shot in your bedroom, you're probably thinking of where you can shoot your film.

Finding, selecting and booking film or photo shoot locations can be quite a challenging task, especially if you haven't done it before. How do you find potential locations? Is there a database you can look into? How do you contact owners? How much can you expect to pay? Are you getting ripped off? How do you get a permit? Do you need a permit? How would you do a location scout?

There are many questions, and you need answers.

What's the protocol here?

In this article, we'll answer all the questions you may have when you're location scouting for the first time.


Step 1: Determine The Kind of Location You Need

By now, you should have already finished your script. With the script in hand (and in mind), you should determine the kind of locations you need for all your shots.

Do you need a mansion? An abandoned-looking place? A gas station restroom? A hotel room?

We suggest you make a list of locations you need, categorized by the scene in your film. If your production is simple and requires only one broad location – this list would have only one location. And that's okay.

Step 2: Determine Your Budget

This step is quite self-explanatory.

Locations aren't usually cheap, but that doesn't mean you can't find affordable locations.

Locations are not always cheap (they're not always expensive either) and you should know the ballpark at which you're ready to spend, since without knowing your budget you'll be quite lost in your location search.

Step 4: Figure Out Your Timeline

Depending on your script, you may need a couple of hours, an entire day, or multiple days at each (if multiple) of your locations.

This has an effect on your budget, so it's very important that you assess and predict this as accurately as possible, keeping buffers in place in case something goes wrong or gets delayed (and it most definitely will).

Not all hosts will be okay with overtime, and it almost always costs you more than booking for that extra time beforehand.

You also need to decide the date(s) on which you're planning your shoot, so that you can pass this information on to property owners and hosts to determine location availability.

Step 5: Determine Your Shooting Region

Before you narrow down specific locations, you want to be sure of the city or the area within your city that you want to film in.

There are many factors that weigh in on this decision –

  • Film permits can be more difficult to obtain in certain areas of LA for instance, and easier (and cheaper) to obtain in certain other areas.
  • Another factor to consider is how easily your cast and crew can get to the shooting region. If your team is based out of Santa Monica, it may be easier to get to Venice than to get to Long Beach or Burbank, for instance.
  • If you're shooting significantly outside your city, you should factor in the cost of lodging for your cast and crew, as well as parking costs. All of these things can unexpectedly create a dent in your budget, leaving with you with less money for things that are more important.
  • Catering (unless you want your crew to go hungry) can cost more or less depending on the area you're filming in.

Once you've figured out your requirements, budget, timeline and broad area of shooting, the next step is to actually find locations to consider for your shoot.

Naturally, our number one recommendation to start your location search would be to go to Giggster.com, choose your location, and look for what you have in mind.

Giggster uses full-text search. This means that if you're looking for a mansion, you can just type in "mansion" in our search box and voila, you'll see mansions. Try it out now! Type in "Hollywood Hills" and see what comes up.

Step 7: Contact the Owners

Once you've found a list of properties that fit your needs and budget, you can go ahead and message their owners, giving them details about your project, your dates, and any specific requirements you need from the host.

You can then schedule a location scout to have a better look at the property and narrow your shortlist further.

Is this your first time location scouting? Read these 9 tips on film scouting from a veteran LA host.

Sometimes one scout isn't enough – many filmmakers prefer to do a tech scout after the initial scout to iron out smaller and finer technical details about the location and its suitability for filming their specific project. Read this article to learn 5 simple tips for doing your first tech scout.

Step 8: Book Your Location

After the scout, you can go back to Giggster and message the host again if you're interested in booking their property. You can then pay right there on Giggster, and you're done!

Congratulations on your first film location booking!

This article is a part of a larger series on location scouting. If you're interested in getting the full scoop of all of our tips and advice on that topic, click here.


Want to start searching for your dream location? Find it on Giggster.com among 4000+ locations available to rent for filming.

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