Custom sets and locations

StrikeEmStudios Posts: 224 Just Starting Out
I'm currently in pre production on a new short which will be set solely in two rooms, but I have a bit of a problem and that problem is locations.
What I have in mind is a very specific room lay out in the style of a motel room, dingy, damp and dated.
Where i'm stuck is that there is likely no locations in my local area (East Anglia) that fit the requirements, so I'm considering a custom set, which will also allow me to have more freedom with my cinematography and lighting. Although this brings a new problem to the table.
Budget - my budget is restricted to £1000 at the most and I am almost certain that a custom set and rental of a space to build the set in will overshoot the small budget i currently have.
I'm making this thread as I thought maybe a couple of users may have used custom sets before, what type of expenses should i be expecting? and what would be the best way to seek funding support?
Know a UK based location that might fit the bill? if shifting production works out cheaper then i'll consider that too.


  • DanielGWood
    DanielGWood Posts: 1,016 Just Starting Out
    It will depend on how specific your room layout is, but "dingy, damp and dated" reminds me of my old flat. Cheaper private accommodation is often like that - 70s blocks of flats, poor furnishings, some even come with free damp. I'd try looking around a few of those just in case, since if they are between renters the landlord may let you rent it for a few days.
  • SimonKJones
    SimonKJones Posts: 4,370 Enthusiast
    Given that you're also based in Norfolk you could probably use Dan's ACTUAL old flat. :P
    We always find that the most difficult part of building a set is finding a space to put it. The cost will vary massively, but the main thing is to be aware of your shots: focus your set dressing detail in areas that will actually be in frame, and forget about everything else.
    Another nice tip I heard recently - which is blindingly obvious, really, but for some reason had never occurred to me - is that if you're on a tight budget and your set maybe doesn't have the level of detail you want, simply shoot with a very shallow DoF so that you never get a good look at the background.
  • StrikeEmStudios
    StrikeEmStudios Posts: 224 Just Starting Out
    Thanks, i don't think your old flat will cut though! ;)
    Some good tips there Simon too, I don't particularly like to change my visual style to suit a location, only if the conditions and restrictions don't allow me to get what i want - but with this project i don't want to make compromises, I have a far stronger character based script and i want to push my personal style and not be rushed, i see it as a chance to prove myself as a film-maker now i'm moving away from action.
    I've looked around online at rental houses, hotels and things like that, but locally, it's rather hard to get the appropriate location that fits what i have in my mind - I may have to take a trip to this Motel i was interested in as they didn't contact me (maybe their contact email needed updating or maybe they weren't happy with the content).
    I know the FXhome guys worked with a custom set on Fracture, but i couldn't find much on budget, which i understand isn't always something you want to advertise, but is there a possibility of getting a production estimate? or even something like a loose estimate of the entire budget?
    Thanks again.
  • SimonKJones
    SimonKJones Posts: 4,370 Enthusiast
    I don't have any figures for Fracture to hand, but I'm also not sure how relevant they would be. The Fracture set was unusually solid - far more rigid than it needed to be, really. It made for an utterly awesome set, but we could have cut a lot more corners and built something more cheaply that would have looked equally good on screen.
    Even then, though, the biggest problem was having the space in which to build and shoot. Do you have anywhere you can use?
  • StrikeEmStudios
    StrikeEmStudios Posts: 224 Just Starting Out
    I know of various warehouse units that could possibly be rented, one of which has appeared on websites linking to shooting locations, so i'd have to get some price estimates.
    I also know the labour of people building the set would be one of the highest costing things, but I'm sure i could wrangle some friends to help in their free time, or possibly enlist the services of students at my college, which will probably be a good idea.
    The two sets i want will be practically identical rooms, furniture moved around, different colour scheme. I'm going to pull aside a few tutors + technicians tomorrow from the college and ask if an old art studio is still empty as it could be feasible to build inside of it. Hopefully i can pull some strings having studied there for what is now 6 years, and maybe the fact their media dept has been using my work from the last 2 years to advertise their courses could help.