Choosing the right film location for on-screen believability

Jocelyn Towne, i am i, all rights reserved

Finding the right film location – With financing and casting process out of the way, the real hard work begins–making a movie. If you did not get an opportunity to read my interview with Jocelyn Towne, actress and, now, first-time indie film director,feelfree to check it out. I am currentlyIn the process of creating a series of posts, as it relates to the independent filmmaking industry; to include updates from the film I AM I, and briefly discussing Jocelyn Towne’s dual role as director and actress in the film I AM I.

What I hope to gain by documenting this process:

  • Develop a working knowledge of the indie filmmaking process.
  • Provide in-depth information on the indie film industry from an ‘outsider’ perspective.
  • Sate my curiosity regarding the inner workings of independent film.
  • Educate readers on a few of the inner aspects of the independent filmmaking process. And,
  • Develop an open discussion on the importance of independent filmmaking as an extension of the artistic creative process.

In all, this will be a personal, and educational process I have set out for myself for the love of independent film and its artists.

The production company that will be behind the film I AM I. Present Pictures is a Los Angeles-based feature film and television production company formed by Jennifer Dubin and Cora Olson, and was established in 2006, and is behind the film The Babysitters (2007) with John Leguizamo (Vanishing on 7th Street), Cynthia Nixon (Sex in the City), and Katherine Waterston. Along with the film Good Dick (2008) starring Jason Ritter and Marianna Palka, Marianna, with whom I had the honor to interview with.

Jocelyn Towne, i am i, pre-production, all rights reserved

The importance of scouting for filming locations

The location is one of the many important aspects of filming, just as finding the right actors to portray a role, and just as important as the choice of music used in the film. Finding an easily accessible location is not enough–securing permissions to shoot a film would prove disastrous if location permits remain are not obtained. In a recent update for the film I AM I, Jocelyn and members of the production team were scouting for locations to shoot the movie, as it’s important to do so. Once the site has been chosen, sorting out legalities as soon as possible is of considerable importance–securing the rights to the film at these locations. Even if a movie is filmed in a public place, a permit for filming is still needed. If your movie is being filmed on private property, a location release, and a shooting permit is needed as well.

If you are shooting your film in front of a building, as it normally appears, then you do not need to have permission to film there (in the US). If you need access to other parts of the building, on the interior—perhaps, permission from the building owner or manager is required. It is good practice to obtain any permission agreements and be sure to have those documents available, just in case, for reference. If any trade names or building signage exists in these locations, always be sure you have obtained permissions from the right person.

Filming at a selected location or filming at a studio?

Deciding which location to film can be just as important as the film itself. Especially if you are operating on an indie budget. Location filming should be the preferred choice over filming at a studio, due to costs. Filming on location is cheaper, rather than filming on a largely constructed set. Again, a film would be more believable, should it be filmed in a natural environment. You can use your apartment for a film set, the local park, or your everyday convenience store for scenes. However, the disadvantages to this are multifaceted, as there is typically no control of the environment (traffic, unscripted discussions, noise levels, etc.) Depending on the size of the scene, it may be more expensive to shoot a film on location. There are always great benefits to filming on location, just as there are hindrances to filming on location.


Location for scene believability

Considering the potential impact location and settings have on a movie, it is imperative to find the right location, environment, and setting—all critical to a film’s believability and success. A film’s location is the most important and active aspect in filming. The video viewer will appreciate visually pouring over the scene details and becoming immersed within the film. For example, take in a scene from the movie adaptation of Nicholas Spark’s novel The Notebook:

When Noah takes Allie out canoeing, white geese covered the surface of the pond, and as Noah navigated their way among the Cyprus trees; they were happy. It was just beginning to rain when their moods changed and Allie became angry—angry because she believed that Noah never wrote to her like he promised her that he would—she tells Noah it was over, but then, he reaches, pulls Allie into his arms and…well, this scene is probably one of the most memorable scenes ever filmed. Its impact and believability weighed heavily on the location where this scene was shot.

Overall, a strong sense of film location is as important as setting a strong acting presence on-screen. A location is a significant visual enhancement for a movie total causative effects. The actors, location, and cinematography—transcends into the emotive feedback experienced while watching what transpires on the big screen. Choosing a filming location could be the single, most powerful, and persuasive, affect in movies.

For more on Jocelyn Towne and to offer your support for the indie film I AM I, please visit her website.

Image credit: Jocelyn Towne and IMDB

Source: Callif, L. A. , & Donaldson, M. C. (2010).[easyazon-link asin=”1616320443″ locale=”us”]The American Bar Association’s Legal Guide to Independent Filmmaking[/easyazon-link]. Chicago, Ill: American Bar Association.

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