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TERRIFIED! Indie / Guerilla Location Scouting in LOS ANGELES 101 - HELP!


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#1 Jeff Norman

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 06:06 PM

The good news: I'm well on my way to getting my first-ever production off the ground. Great script. Great cast. Great DP and 1st AC in place. (Still need sound recordist though, but that's a separate thread.) And a budget of $6,000 including post secured. 
 
The bad news: I have absolutely no idea how the HELL to find locations for this project in time before we HAVE TO start shooting this May. AAAAHHH!
 
What's my "first-ever production" about you ask? Here it is:
 
Bobo Noir (French for "spoiled Parisian brat") is a pastry arts dropout with a heart of gold (or opal, his birthstone). His dream: become the black John Belushi. His skill: awful-awesome. His parents -- a professor of 19th-century Namibian watercolors and a Montgolfier Prize Winner in toy plane aviation -- have banished him from the family olive oil fortune. But a one-way ticket to Los Angeles, and a cousin convalescing in Mexico, have given him a summer in SoCal to pursue his funnyman dreams.
 
So that's the synopsis. Since I'm based in LA, as is the cast and crew, we can't afford to trek too far out to find suitable locations for this project. And those locations include:
 
- a DINER
- APARTMENT INTERIOR (Art-Deco furnished if possible; living room, kitchen, bathroom, two bedrooms)
- APARTMENT EXTERIOR (front lawn, OK to shoot at night, OK to activate sprinklers at night)
- another SMALL, CRAMPED APARTMENT
- an OFFICE / RECEPTION DESK
- an EXECUTIVE OFFICE SUITE
- an ANTIQUE SHOP
- COFFEE SHOP
- COMEDY CLUB
- WAREHOUSE / GARAGE / INDUSTRIAL FACILITY (OK to create + cleanup a small mess)
 
Now ok, I know what you're probably thinking... I should probably terminate the project. Have given that a lot of thought. But have ultimately decided to push past the trepidation and commit to realizing the project. (Maybe beginner's idiocy?)
 
So far I've tried posting on Craigslist and city-data.com/forum... no luck :/ 
 
I tried cold-calling a diner and, bless his heart, he almost started laughing when I mentioned what I could afford to pay. He said he would need AT LEAST $2,000 for one day's shooting. If I weren't an athlete... I would have had a coronary 
 
I would just be out driving around and around for potential spaces.... but I have a full-time job which I can't really get away from for this project. 
 
I would hire a location scout, but... I just don't know if there's enough money in our budget for one. Or is there?
 
What the heck can I do to make this work? I have THREE WEEKS to identify and lock down at least a majority of these locations. ANY advice or wisdom would be lapped up like a pitcher of sangria on Cinco de Mayo. Oh yeah, sangria's Spanish, not Mexican. Nevermind.
 
Thank you!
bobonoir@gmail.com

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#2 Heikki Repo

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 07:02 AM

Some thoughts:

 

1) Go to your friends. What kind of apartments do they have? Buy someone out of town for a while, pay for their hotel room while they are away and let you shoot.

 

2) Try to find some place which you could use for different scenes by building sets. Sure, that'll take time and effort and trying to loan / buy used furniture. But sometimes that's the only way if no suitable location is available.

 

3) Again, go to your friends and people you know. If you have no name, it'll be really difficult to obtain permits for locations with no money. So you have to use all contacts you have. You might also want to try to contact smaller organizations which might find it beneficial for them to help such a project by letting you shoot in their office during weekend or at night (provided the house doesn't have people living there). Give credits and organize a showing of the finished film at their place etc. Offer what you can offer. For some diner you might be able to offer making a marketing video or something like that in exchange for the shooting permit during some time there are no customers or only very few customers.

 

4) If obtaining some location seems to become a big problem, don't be afraid to make some adjustments to your script. There rarely is only one solution available. Get creative.


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#3 Jeff Norman

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 07:21 PM

Some thoughts:

 

1) Go to your friends. What kind of apartments do they have? Buy someone out of town for a while, pay for their hotel room while they are away and let you shoot.

 

2) Try to find some place which you could use for different scenes by building sets. Sure, that'll take time and effort and trying to loan / buy used furniture. But sometimes that's the only way if no suitable location is available.

 

3) Again, go to your friends and people you know. If you have no name, it'll be really difficult to obtain permits for locations with no money. So you have to use all contacts you have. You might also want to try to contact smaller organizations which might find it beneficial for them to help such a project by letting you shoot in their office during weekend or at night (provided the house doesn't have people living there). Give credits and organize a showing of the finished film at their place etc. Offer what you can offer. For some diner you might be able to offer making a marketing video or something like that in exchange for the shooting permit during some time there are no customers or only very few customers.

 

4) If obtaining some location seems to become a big problem, don't be afraid to make some adjustments to your script. There rarely is only one solution available. Get creative.

Thank you for these tips, Heikki!


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#4 Mark Dunn

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 05:58 AM

One assumes that in LA every potential location knows what it is worth. Perhaps you will have to go a little way  out of town. Petrol is still cheap for you. (No, really- $10/gallon here).


Edited by Mark Dunn, 09 April 2013 - 05:59 AM.

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#5 Gregg MacPherson

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 06:43 PM

I don't think you can afford to pay for permits or locations. You have to sell the creative, non commercial value of your project. Coffee shops, dinners, comedy clubs, they're often tying to build their own little story. It may be flattering for them to be part of the film. If that doesn't work then you have to create the locations somehow with help from friends, free junk for props, whatever space is available for free.
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Rig Wheels Passport

Technodolly

The Slider

Abel Cine

Visual Products

CineTape

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