Mar 30
LOCATION HUNTER by Alex J. Socorro  |  Posted in Articles  |  on Fri, Mar 30, 2012

Traditionally, a movie starts with the concept of the story followed by the storyline then the sequence treatment and finally the script or screenplay. And when the budget becomes available, the shooting starts.

But before the shooting, one very important step in the pre-production of the movie is the location hunting. The environment where the movie is to be shot simulates the milieu or setting as specified by the writer in the story.

Some stories have simple settings while most of the mainstream movies require panoramic and not so common vista whether near or far. Once approved, the selected location is used for the shooting of the movie.

Preferably, the selected location should provide most of the required settings as stated in the script. But usually, several locations are used particularly if the producer is not scrimping on the budget.

The Location Master, so-called for his artistic taste and bargaining skills, goes on a location hunt before the production could set a shooting schedule. The Location Master is armed with the knowledge of what the movie is all about.

The sequence treatment is the list of sequences with sufficient description of the settings. A thorough study of the sequence treatment would yield a good idea of what exactly is needed in the settings.

Hunting for a shooting location is a mean task. First, one needs the connections especially if the security is questionable like in remote mountain areas. Second, the direction should be clearly defined so as not to lose one’s way. Third, the cost should also be considered.

There are times that the location would be rejected because it is too remote and transportation is problematic. But there are also remote places that producers and directors crave for like scenic Palawan and Pagudpud in the north.

One major shooting location of the movie LARGAAA – the San Lazaro Leisure Park in Carmona, Cavite.

Locations, especially public places, would require shooting permits and would involve countless of restrictions. Public places like parks require a formal letter of intent and a minimal fee for the shooting permit. Some Indie productions sidestep the permits by shooting in guerrilla style. They conceal the camera and uses it sparingly with the benefit of natural lighting. But this is risky more so when there are authorities around.

In one shooting incident, as related by a custodian of a camera unit, the location was the vicinity of Quiapo church. When the cops noticed the ongoing shooting, the director fled, leaving the camera crew to the ensuing interrogation.

For privately-owned locations, rental is a big issue. Middle class houses have a tag of P20,000 for one day rent while special houses like vintage and mansions can go as high as P50,000 per day.

For the Location Master with good communication skills, their usual targets are resorts and the like because directors appreciate shooting on out of town location to extract their creative juices. They abhor being confined to Metro Manila locations.

When shooting in resorts, it is a given that accommodations would also be in that resort. Undoubtedly, it would be work with a little vacation. And to think that resorts would be offering them good food.

The primary shooting location of the movie LARGAAA – the MD Ranch in Barangay Natu, Rosario, Batangas owned by Barangay Captain Martin De Castro

When shooting permits were already secured and rentals were paid, the job of the Location Master is not done yet. It is not unusual for a director to request additional locations particularly if the neighboring areas seem to concur with his envisioned setting.

It is the duty of the Location Master to negotiate with the additional locations. On the spot location hunts are not really difficult because people tend to get excited upon seeing the shooting equipment. So negotiations become easier.

One aspect to be carefully considered is the political color. There are location owners that would try to gain a cameo role for their favorite politico. It may be a plus if the politician would donate to the production but otherwise it results in a delay.

The earnings of a Location Master vary because it depends on the magnitude of work and the production budget. For the far-flung provinces, location hunting takes days with stays in hotels or inns.

Aside from the service fee, the Location Master benefits from the experience of travel, food and accommodations especially for classy resorts, not to mention establishing connections and gaining new friends.

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