Filmmaking Blog Posts by Indie Film Factory

How to make a movie starts with locations

Filming Locations are Everything.

By Kelly Schwarze – Filmmaker and Author of “What Film Schools Don’t Tell You”

How to make a movie and the finding locations: 

Setting is more than just a place on a map. It’s a tone, its the creation of a whole new world that your characters interact in, suffer in, watch tv in, breath in. The location in your head, that you crafted in your script, often times differs, or might not even exist in the real world. 

Location might be the production checklist item that is handled with the least amount of care. How does one find a location that not only satisfies the director’s vision, but is suitable and in reach for an indie production? Here are some location tips to get you on your way. 

  1. Settle on a location before you cast. This will allow you time to work out any logistical kinks and avoid settling for locations that do not enhance your project. General lack of location preparation is a common lynchpin to failure for any film project.
  2. Before you begin your location search, consider what you actually need from a location. Could this be shot in my or my relatives homes for little cost? How much time do I realistically need in this location? What will I be bringing to this location? Can I compensate the owner of this location, even if i’m allowed to shoot for free? Can I afford the insurance to hold my production here?
  3. Consider seeking a location through your local film commission. Film commissions are state created databases and agencies made to aid you in securing film resources including crew, craft services, and permit information. Sitting down with your local commission and discussing the ornate details of your production needs with them can open a thorough and personalized stock of resources to you. 
  4. Obtain general liability insurance. Not getting general liability is not only a physical risk, it is also a financial risk to you as a producer. Despite the fears of many first time filmmakers, insurance is generally inexpensive and easy to obtain. 
  5. Permits. Always. Not only is it illegal to film without the proper permissions, it can be hazardous to your film and your crew. Guerrilla shooting leads to frantic sloppiness in production and carelessness in all departments, including safety. 
  6. Find locations that require less set dressing. While production design will be key in transforming a location into a setting, try to find locations where you do not need to bring in massive set pieces if you can help it. Your time, wallet, and back will thank you. 

There is one more thing to keep in mind after you have completed the ritual of getting your location locked; aftercare. Using locations is a privilege, treat them with respect. Consider not only what you bring on your production days, but what you leave there after.  

If you would like to learn more about this stuff, be sure to check out my new book:

What Film Schools Don’t Tell You
Your Basic Guide to Making Movies and Finding Good Distribution.

That’s all for now. Make Movies!


Kelly Schwarze is an Emmy © Award Recipient filmmaker who has written directed and produced 7 feature films, dozens of music vides and commercials, and has owned successful media companies in Las Vegas. 

Kelly also does one-on-one consulting for filmmakers. Click here for more details.

All Rights Reserved © 2019 Indie Film Factory, LLC

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