When we say "Location, Location, Location, Location..." we say it with confidence because we know the importance behind a location but also in regards to budget! Especially if you are operating on an indie budget.
The importance of scouting for filming locations
The location is one of the many important aspects of filming, just as finding the right actors to portray a role, and just as important as the choice of music used in the film. Finding an easily accessible location is not enough–securing permissions to shoot a film would prove disastrous if location permits remain are not obtained. Once the site has been chosen, sorting out legalities as soon as possible is of considerable importance–securing the rights to the film at these locations. Even if a movie is filmed in a public place, a permit for filming is still needed. If your movie is being filmed on private property, a location release, and a shooting permit is needed as well.
If you are shooting your film in front of a building, as it normally appears, then you do not need to have permission to film there (in the US). If you need access to other parts of the building, on the interior—perhaps, permission from the building owner or manager is required. It is good practice to obtain any permission agreements and be sure to have those documents available, just in case, for reference. If any trade names or building signage exists in these locations, always be sure you have obtained permissions from the right person.
Filming at a selected location or filming at a studio?
Deciding which location to film can be just as important as the film itself. Especially if you are operating on an indie budget. Location filming should be the preferred choice over filming at a studio, due to costs. Filming on location is cheaper, rather than filming on a largely constructed set. Again, a film would be more believable, should it be filmed in a natural environment. You can use your apartment for a film set, the local park, or your everyday convenience store for scenes. However, the disadvantages to this are multifaceted, as there is typically no control of the environment (traffic, unscripted discussions, noise levels, etc.) Depending on the size of the scene, it may be more expensive to shoot a film on location. There are always great benefits to filming on location, just as there are hindrances to filming on location.
Location for scene believability
Considering the potential impact location and settings have on a movie, it is imperative to find the right location, environment, and setting—all critical to a film’s believability and success. A film’s location is the most important and active aspect in filming. The video viewer will appreciate visually pouring over the scene details and becoming immersed within the film.
For example, take in a scene from the movie adaptation of Nicholas Spark’s novel The Notebook: When Noah takes Allie out canoeing, white geese covered the surface of the pond, and as Noah navigated their way among the Cyprus trees; they were happy. It was just beginning to rain when their moods changed and Allie became angry—angry because she believed that Noah never wrote to her like he promised her that he would—she tells Noah it was over, but then, he reaches, pulls Allie into his arms and…well, this scene is probably one of the most memorable scenes ever filmed. Its impact and believability weighed heavily on the location where this scene was shot.
Overall, a strong sense of film location is as important as setting a strong acting presence on-screen. A location is a significant visual enhancement for a movie total causative effects. The actors, location, and cinematography—transcends into the emotive feedback experienced while watching what transpires on the big screen. Choosing a filming location could be the single, most powerful, and persuasive, affect in movies.
(Source: Callif, L. A. , & Donaldson, M. C. (2010).The American Bar Association’s Legal Guide to Independent Filmmaking)
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Elite Management and Location Team.
The Crimson Field - BBC