How to ask for locations?

larrystanleylarrystanley Website User Posts: 3
edited March 2017 in Practical Filmmaking


I was making a short film, and needed a large warehouse. The scene was quite simple. Guy drives up in a Camaro, and then goes into the warehouse. He then comes out carrying someone, and then puts the person into the trunk of the Camaro and drives away. No interior shots, just exterior.

I knew exactly what kind of warehouse I wanted as I drive by it all the time. There was a sign saying who owned it with a phone number, so I called asking if we could use the guy's warehouse to film. I don't really remember what transpired during that conversation, as the whole experience was kind of weird since the guy didn't seem to understand what "filming a scene for a short film" meant. I explained exactly what we intended to do about three times, and then was told that he was busy and didn't really have time to talk.

The only other location I've asked for in my life was for a cotton field, and the folks are our good neighbors. I know that sometimes I can be too forward with my requests, but I guess I don't really know how to ask for a location. Any advice or questions would be appreciated.

I am a animator and have worked with multiple firms
You can check 3D software overview video spam link removed one of my work.


  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 18,331 Ambassador

    Asking for locations? Sounds like you're doing it correctly. With the warehouse, you basically said you want to shoot exterior, this is the action, and it should take x amount of time, yes? 

  • WhiteCranePhotoWhiteCranePhoto Website User Posts: 911 Enthusiast

    Sometimes you can gain a little leverage by promising to credit them in the film (most filmmakers do that anyway, but they usually don't know that, and you could also offer them things like associate producer credits and that sort of thing.

    Other than that though, I think you're on the right track. Most people tend to be rather excited about being involved in films, but not everyone. 

  • DanielGWoodDanielGWood Moderator Website User, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 1,021 Just Starting Out

    Some people just aren't interested in the hassle.

    As the filmmaker, if you're clear about what you want to shoot (exterior/interior? vehicles involved? roughly what kind of thing?) and how long for, that's usually enough for the property owner to make a decision.

    You're perhaps more likely to get a positive response if you mention you have any relevant insurance, first aiders, and experience doing this before. Equally though, if they had already decided it sounded like too much effort, bringing up paperwork might not help!

    In the Guerrilla Filmmakers books there's a bit on locations and how to handle that. As luck would have it, the publishers have made the planning + prep section available for free online!

  • WhiteCranePhotoWhiteCranePhoto Website User Posts: 911 Enthusiast

    "Some people just aren't interested in the hassle."

    Most of those are people who have had or know people who have had bad experiences with film projects. It's another reason that you should be a good citizen; otherwise you might well ruin a good opportunity for the next filmmaker.

    One of the reasons that the directors I've worked with are able to get locations is that we're polite to the location providers, but also because we do our best to be good citizens, which includes endeavoring to keep to our timetable and giving ourselves time to clean up afterward.

    Of course, there are still some people who just aren't interested anyway, and there's not a lot that you can do about those.

  • DanielGWoodDanielGWood Moderator Website User, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 1,021 Just Starting Out

    @WhiteCranePhoto is quite right, if you do get a location it's really worth keeping them sweet.

    Back on asking for locations - I think it's worth bearing in mind that even if your filming sticks to the exterior of a property and will take almost no time at all, the owner still has to provide access. That might mean just opening a gate, but then they're got to consider whether they/a security guard sticks around all day, or what happens if something goes wrong during filming (hence insurance) etc. Some of the people who just say no are probably doing this calculation in their heads, and will say no regardless.

  • ToddGrovesToddGroves Website User Posts: 227

    Thanks for the prep PDF. Very cool. :)

  • SteveKarstensenSteveKarstensen Website User Posts: 336
    edited March 2017

    Honestly, it doesn't sound to me like you did anything wrong at all.  Dude you were talking to was just a dim bulb.  It happens.  I've had so-called "server engineers" who couldn't tell a standalone E-mail client from a web page no matter how many times I explained it.

  • WhiteCranePhotoWhiteCranePhoto Website User Posts: 911 Enthusiast

    And I worked with a whole team of "senior" software engineers who didn't understand that HTML files don't actually contain image files...

  • DanielGWoodDanielGWood Moderator Website User, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 1,021 Just Starting Out
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