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Why Location Scouting is the Best Job in Film (And Why it's The Hardest)

14th April 2014
Location Filming Scout - Filming Locations

The freedom, the creativity, the travelling; Ah, no wonder Location Scouting is the ultimate filmography geek’s dream job. But like all jobs, it’s not without it’s trials and tribulations.  We examine all the aspects of what makes it one of the most glamorous jobs in film, and also why it’s one of the hardest.


Film Scouting: Why it’s the best job ever.

  • You literally get to set the scene. As a location scout, it’s your job to absorb the story or script like no one else does, visualising the backdrop to a moment that’s just a black and white scrawl on paper. It’s your interpretation of the story/script that sets the scene, and understanding the tone of the script and story better than anyone else is imperative.
  • You get to meet some incredible people. There are a lot of people involved in filming; film crew, producers, actors, and your job will expose you to them all. Working in this elite pool keeps you in the loop and gets you good friends. (And even better connections!)
  • You get to travel. Possibly the most alluring aspect of the job is the potential to travel all over the world looking for that perfect setting. Different countries, cities and buildings – this is a job that could potentially take you all over the world and experience some breath-taking places.
  • You get to see some amazing properties. Location scouting isn’t all rolling landscapes and American deserts. Sometimes it’s finding the right living room for a nappy commercial, or the right kitchen for a particular character in a TV Drama. Whilst this might not be as thrilling as exploring the Borneo Rainforest, you’ll certainly see some impressive real estate.
  • You gain a varied skillset. It’s not just about having a good eye for a great location – there are many other skills you need when working as a location scout. You have to think people management, logistics, noise control, budget management - it’s a varied skillset that requires creativity and common sense in order to pull off the full package. 

Location Scouting: Why it’s the hardest job ever.

  • Logistics. Ah, this is where it gets less glamorous; The L word. It’s pretty frustrating having to forsake a perfect location at the cost of near by toilets and parking, but this is a choice many location scouts must make. It’s like organising a party; although it’s the perfect location, if you don’t provide cake or goody bags, your guests are less likely to be in the party spirit. And there’s even more to think about. Will the film crew have somewhere to store their equipment? How will they get it on set? Is it a distance they can carry it from the parking? What’s the terrain like on the way? Is this an appropriate place to film? Can you get it quiet enough to film in private without passers by getting in shot or harassing the crew & actors? These are just a handful of the considerations one should make when location scouting.  
  • Timing. Ah, time. The film industry's nemesis. Everything takes a lot of time in film, and when choosing your location this is something you must factor in to the overall time allocation of the project. You need to factor in how long it will take to reach the location, how long you can spend there and how long it will take to set up.
  • Accommodation. Rolling on from the last point, filming takes time, which means you might need more than one day on the set to create the masterpiece. If this is the case, it’s your job to ensure there are places for people to sleep. A filming day on little sleep is not out of the norm, but not very nice.
  • Noise control. Sound is an extremely, extremely important aspect of filming locations. To ensure clear and consistent background noise, you have to scout a location that isn’t in the path of anything loud like a school, an airport or a main road. If this the case and you can’t compromise on the location, you have to make the necessary demands (such as closing the road) to ensure you have the right noise level on the day, and this is something that can add to the budget. This can be harder with more central places, like London film locations.
  • Weather. Filming in England has its joys. The fresh countryside, the brisk awakening air. But when you’re trying to film a summer scene in October in a farm that’s being hit by gale force winds – you’re unlikely to convince your audience it’s July. This is why a lot of filming is carried out in South Africa and New Zealand, where the landscape is British looking but the sun shines like our (rare) summer. However, this is where timing and budget need to be planned efficiently.
  • Budget Control. The hardest thing to get around is budget. You can have all the ideas under the sun – but if the budget’s not there, you’ve got to compromise and find an alternative. Remember, you’ve got to factor in the amount of people and equipment that are travelling to your location, which can be a challenge – sometimes a discouraging one. However, this makes it all the more satisfying when it all falls together.

London Film Locations

Location Scouting is certainly not a dull job – but it’s not all roses and daisies either! It can take you on adventures no other job can, whilst also posing many obstacles along the way. However, if you’re looking for a London location that can cater for all your logistical and aesthetic needs, Senate House might be the perfect location.  

The art deco building offers a whole range of London filming locations. With great access, nearby accommodation and plenty of flexibility, we can cater to all logistical needs. Get in touch today and see what we can offer. 

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