Monday, 5 October 2009

Tip # 15: Locations as characters

By Sinéad Ferguson (Producer/Production designer)

This is part one in a seven part series on finding the right locations.

We always set out to achieve a low budget film with a big budget feel. One way we did this is by immediately dispensing with the usual low budget approach of using minimum locations. Is it cheaper to have minimum locations? Yes. Easier logistically? Most definitely. But it’s visually boring... it’s bland, uninspiring and unimaginative. So if you’re not afraid of a little or in our case as it turned out quite a lot of hard work...the effort is definitely worth it and means that your final results on screen are something everyone can be proud of.

From the get go I always thought of the locations as characters in our film and they were as important and integral in the storytelling as our leads, especially considering their ever present time on screen. I absolutely consider it time and money well spent even if your budget is almost nonexistent like ours. I maintain that whatever your budget no matter how small, put the money on the screen, ie your actors and your locations.

Finding just the right locations can be a daunting task. From my perspective as both producer and production designer I had a very clear vision of what we were looking for. Understanding their importance I wasn’t satisfied with us finding locations that were anything less than perfect for our purposes. Get it right and the locations would subtlety enhance and compliment the storytelling, get it wrong and they would easily distract from and hinder it.

Ultimately finding and securing all our locations, involved countless hours doing research online, followed by innumerable hours spent in the car driving all over Sussex, add to that an almost epic amount of emails, endless phone calls, meetings, negotiating, compromising, and persuading, followed by even more convincing and eventually after all that rigmarole our locations were secured.

Easy peasy !

The next few blogs with give you some practical advice based on our experience with finding and securing locations...

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