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The Importance of the Location Scout – What it is and Why Not Doing One Might be Costing You Money

In the world of visual storytelling, every detail matters. From lighting and composition to props and costumes, every element contributes to the overall narrative. Among these crucial factors, location plays a paramount role in setting the stage for your video or photo production. The art of location scouting involves more than just finding a beautiful backdrop; it’s about creating the perfect synergy between your creative vision and the environment. In this article, we delve into the importance of location scouting and how it can elevate the quality of your visual productions.

What is location scouting?

Location scouting is a crucial pre-production activity that involves assessing various aspects of potential shooting sites to determine their suitability for a video or photography project. A well-chosen location not only enhances the visual quality of the content but also contributes to the overall authenticity, storytelling, and logistical efficiency of the production.

What to look for on a location scout

  1. Visual Compatibility: Locations must match the director’s or producer’s artistic vision for the project. The visual elements, such as architecture, landscape, lighting, and overall ambiance, should complement the intended mood and atmosphere of the scene.
  2. Authenticity: Authenticity is crucial to creating believable and immersive storytelling. Locations should reflect the time period, cultural context, and setting depicted in the script. A historical drama, for example, requires period-appropriate locations that enhance the authenticity of the narrative.
  3. Logistics: Practical considerations like accessibility, parking, power supply, and proximity to crew and equipment resources play a vital role. The location should be easily reachable, and its logistical aspects should be manageable to ensure a smooth production process.
  4. Cost Efficiency: Budget constraints often influence location choices. Scouting helps identify cost-effective options by evaluating the potential expenses associated with permits, set construction, and other production needs.
  5. Permits and Regulations: Different locations may require permits for filming, especially in public spaces or private properties. Scouting helps identify these requirements and ensures proper permissions are obtained before shooting.
  6. Weather and Lighting: Natural lighting conditions and weather can greatly impact the quality of footage. Scouting at various times of day and under different weather conditions allows the production team to anticipate how these elements will affect the final visuals.
  7. Safety: The safety of the cast, crew, and equipment is of paramount importance. Scouting helps identify potential hazards or challenges and allows for proper precautions to be taken during filming.
  8. Creative Inspiration: Exploring various locations can spark creative ideas and insights. The unique features of a location might inspire directors, cinematographers, and other creative team members to devise innovative shots or adapt the script to better suit the environment.
  9. Art Direction: Locations can often influence art direction decisions, such as set decoration, props, and costume choices. A location with existing elements that align with the project’s needs can save time and resources on set design.
  10. Consistency: In projects that involve multiple scenes or episodes, consistency in locations is essential. Scouting helps ensure that the selected locations are compatible and can maintain continuity throughout the production.

Adding Authenticity and Visual Appeal

Authenticity is a hallmark of compelling visual content. An authentic location not only lends credibility to your production but also captivates your audience’s imagination. Whether you’re shooting a historical drama or a contemporary fashion campaign, the right location provides a level of authenticity that is hard to replicate in a studio.

Furthermore, location scouting can help you discover hidden gems that add visual appeal and uniqueness to your work. From picturesque landscapes to architecturally significant structures, the right location can become a character in its own right, enriching the visual experience and leaving a lasting impression.

Cost and Logistics Efficiency

Careful location scouting can lead to significant cost savings and streamlined logistics. By choosing a location that naturally aligns with your vision, you can minimize the need for extensive set design and decoration. This not only reduces production expenses but also expedites the setup process, allowing you to focus more on capturing exceptional shots.

Moreover, scouting ahead of time enables you to anticipate potential challenges and devise solutions. Whether it’s obtaining permits, managing parking and access, or addressing technical issues, thorough location scouting helps you tackle obstacles before they impact your shoot.

Ford Car Video Production Behind the Scenes Location Scout

Harnessing Creative Inspiration

The process of location scouting is a creative endeavor in itself. Exploring various spaces, studying their unique characteristics, and envisioning how they can be woven into your narrative can spark new ideas and fresh perspectives. The environment may suggest innovative camera angles, unexpected interactions between characters and surroundings, or even inspire you to pivot your creative direction entirely.

A change of scenery can rejuvenate your creativity and provide a fresh canvas for your artistic expression. Embrace the serendipitous moments that often arise during location scouting, as they can lead to imaginative breakthroughs that elevate your production to new heights.

How does forgoing a location scout cost you money?

How many times have you been on set at the end of a long 10+ hour day and wishing you could have squeezed a handful of extra shots or scenes out of the day? From our experience, it’s probably more frequent than you’d care to admit. We’d also wager a lot of this has come from the fact that you’re shooting in a location that was not quite right for the shoot and now to get all of the shots you realistically need for your marketing or advertising initiatives, you’re going to have to add on a 2nd or 3rd shoot day to the production. That doesn’t sound horrible until you realize you now have to pay everyone involved another day rate. That’s talent, crew, rental expenses, photographers, directors, and camera operators, it adds up quick. When you consider the cost an additional day adds up to you’d gladly pay the $800 or so to have a location scout as part of your pre-production.

Commercial Production Location Scout on Site Scottsdale, AZ


Location scouting is a multifaceted art that goes beyond finding a pretty backdrop; it’s about harmonizing your creative vision with the environment to enhance storytelling, authenticity, and visual appeal. By meticulously selecting the right location, you can set the stage for a seamless production process, save costs, and infuse your work with a unique and unforgettable atmosphere. As you embark on your next video or photo project, remember that the perfect location isn’t just a backdrop—it’s a crucial element in crafting a compelling and memorable visual narrative.