Finding the right movie location is key to making a memorable and successful movie or video. And not just because the location adds value to the overall authenticity and style to your film, depending on the budget allocated, the location can make your film become a very expensive entity. 

During pre-production the employment of a location scout is key if your film is to be based in an area that is unknown to the filmmaker.

So what does a location scout do? Well, exactly as it says on the tin, location scouts are the members of the pre-production team who will have the greatest knowledge of the terrain, area, community, culture and language if filming in a location abroad.

How do you become a location scout? 

There is no ‘set’ career path to becoming a location scout; often it can be just about being in the right place at the right time. Normally, most location scouts have had work experience in other areas of the film industry and have found that they have the aptitude, skill and interest for finding interesting places to film.

For anyone who wishes to become a location scout and who isn’t already in the film or TV industry, gaining a post such as an assistant on a TV or film crew would be a good option – knowledge gained working alongside the ‘logistical’ team would give great insight into what makes a film or TV production happen. Key characteristics and skills in a successful location scout would usually include some form of educational training and although it is not crucial to have, for example, a degree in film, it is an advantage to have some evidence that it is within the ability and capability to ‘get the job done’. Experience in getting to know a local area, taking photos, becoming a local guide, is a basic but invaluable resource for any application for the role of location scout. 

A great location scout will have the experience and knowledge to take a look at a location and quickly assess the potential – or not – for  filming ( in other words having ‘a good eye’). The ability to observe for example, how the light has an effect on buildings and landscape or to understand the traffic in busy areas and how this could affect any film schedule. 

Fabulous communication and interpersonal skills go hand in hand with the role of the location scout – how to negotiate and persuade local communities and local government , their understanding of the culture of a community and area, particularly for film locations that are set in a foreign location and there will always be a number of legal requirements relating to a film location from closing roads to using public buildings. This is where local knowledge is absolutely the key to a fantastic and successful film location and could make a big difference to how far the film budget stretches. Securing the skills of a good location scout really does make a film go from just being ‘OK’  to being a memorable and successful movie. Result!