Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Tip # 20: How to get permission to use a location

By Sinéad Ferguson (Producer/Production designer)

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

Here comes the difficult part, finally finding your locations is one thing, getting permission to use them is another thing entirely and isn’t always particularly easy. In securing a location no matter how small and incidental, never underestimate how important it is to be sincere, enthusiastic and passionate about your film. It’s contagious and can often be the tipping point. It can be the difference between getting that important location or losing it. The genuine and friendly approach has yet to fail me. Be upfront, clear and honest when you approach the owner and tell them exactly just what filming on their premises will entail.

(Photo above left: Lead actor Jos Lawton on location
during the kitchen shoot at the Master Mariner,
with the production team consulting behind him.)

Admittedly it’s tempting to gloss over things to get permission, but don’t compromise your integrity and be anything less than truthful and respectful. Give the person the common courtsey of your honesty and allow them to make a well informed decision. Your honesty shows you are trustworthy and in the long run this is important. I formed good relationships especially with our two primary locations in particular Ed at The Rainbow Inn and Asher in The Master Mariner. Truthfully it wasn’t all that difficult as they happen to be very nice guys and I genuinely like them.

Top: The Rainbow Inn manager Luke,
with actress Verity Marshall.
Above: Rainbow Inn manager Ed
observes the crew in action during the night shoot.

Our two main interior locations were working restaurants and pubs. Now convincing someone that it’s a good idea to allow you to bring actors, and a film crew with lots of equipment traipsing in and out of their premises can be a little difficult. Also as they are working restaurants and pubs they are obviously in use all day. Our small budget meant we couldn’t pay to shut them down, meaning that they would also have to be willing to allow us on their premises overnight. Thankfully they did and so all filming that took place in these locations were night shoots. Not ideal to say the least, I know the cast and crew weren’t overjoyed by the prospect and neither were we. However they were all good sports and on a low budget some compromises have to be made to get what you want and this was one of them. Plus Dan, Itsuka and I were confident that the end results on screen would be worth those long and mentally exhausting night shoots.

Master Mariner (Brighton) manager Asher Burman on set
during the kitchen shoot, speaking with director Dan (left).

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