WORKPRINT STUDIOS BLOG POST #27 - Location Scouting in Film

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WORKPRINT STUDIOS BLOG POST #27 - Location Scouting in Film

Finding the Perfect Place to Shoot

Location scouting is the process of finding and securing a suitable location for filming. It is an essential part of the filmmaking. A great location can add depth and authenticity to a film, while a poor location can detract from it. In this blog post, we will discuss the importance of location scouting in film, the steps involved in acquiring permission to use a location, the costs involved, and how using specific locations can draw attention from the filmgoing audience.

The Importance of Location Scouting

A well-chosen location can add depth, meaning, and context to a scene. It can enhance the story, help to develop characters, and even become a character in its own right. For example, think of the various locations in The Lord of the Rings movies. The sweeping landscapes of New Zealand add to the grandeur and epic scale of the story. Location scouting helps filmmakers find the perfect place to bring their vision to life and create a more immersive experience for the audience.

Acquiring Permission to Use a Location

Once the perfect location has been found, the next step is to acquire permission to use it. This involves contacting the owner of the property and negotiating terms for its use. Permission must be obtained for every location used in a film, including public spaces like parks and streets. This process can be time-consuming and complex, particularly when shooting on private property. It is important to have a clear understanding of the legal requirements and to have all necessary permits in place before filming begins.

The Costs Involved in Location Scouting

The cost of location scouting can vary greatly depending on the project's scope and scale. For small independent productions, it may be as simple as visiting a few local locations and negotiating a low fee or donation. For larger productions, the costs can be significant. These may include location fees, permits, insurance, transportation, and accommodation for cast and crew. It is important to factor in these costs when budgeting for a film and to negotiate terms that are fair and reasonable for all parties involved.

Using Specific Locations to Draw Attention

Specific locations can draw attention from the filmgoing audience and help to build anticipation for a film. For example, the island of Skellig Michael, off the coast of Ireland, gained international attention when it was used as a location in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Fans were excited to see this unique and stunning location in the film, and it helped to build anticipation for the movie's release. Location scouting can be used as a marketing tool in this way, by selecting locations that will generate buzz and interest from the audience.


Location scouting is a crucial aspect of the filmmaking process. It helps to create an immersive experience for the audience and can add depth and meaning to a film. Acquiring permission to use a location can be complex, and it is important to understand the legal requirements and budget for the costs involved. Specific locations can also be used as a marketing tool to draw attention from the audience. By carefully selecting locations and negotiating terms, filmmakers can create a more engaging and successful film.


  1. The first-ever location scout in the film industry was Irving Thalberg, a Hollywood producer who scouted locations for MGM's 1925 film "Ben-Hur." Thalberg scouted locations in Italy, including the ancient Roman amphitheater in Verona, which was used for the film's chariot race scene.
  2. Location scouting for films became more prevalent in the 1950s and 1960s, as filmmakers sought out new and exotic locations for their movies. One of the most famous location scouts of this era was Bob Hudgins, who scouted locations for films like "The Godfather" and "Apocalypse Now."
  3. In the 1970s and 1980s, location scouting became even more important as filmmakers began to look for unique and unusual locations that could help set their films apart. One of the most famous location scouts of this era was Jerry Hollander, who scouted locations for films like "The Blues Brothers" and "Ferris Bueller's Day Off."
  4. Location scouts often work closely with production designers and art directors to ensure that the locations they find are appropriate for the film's overall visual style. They may also work with the director and cinematographer to determine the best angles and lighting for each scene.
  5. The rise of digital technology has changed the way location scouting is done in the film industry. Location scouts now use digital tools such as Google Maps and virtual scouting programs to help them find and evaluate potential locations from anywhere in the world.
  6. Location scouting can be a dangerous job, as scouts often have to venture into remote or unfamiliar locations to find the perfect setting for a film. In 2017, location scout Carlos Munoz Portal was shot and killed while scouting locations for the Netflix series "Narcos" in Mexico.
  7. Location scouts also play an important role in the local economy of the areas where they work. By bringing film productions to new locations, location scouts can help boost tourism and create jobs in the area.

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