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Before considering a career as a location scout, you must first understand what is meant by “location.” Location, in this business, basically means outside of a studio. Most films are shot on location, whereas most weekly television shows are not. If you have a good eye and like to travel around, you may be interested in finding work as a location scout.

A location scout does exactly what the job title indicates. He or she travels around scouting, or looking for, locations to shoot scenes for a film. This is good work for a person who has a good memory and a good eye and likes to travel. First, you will read the film's script. Then you will have a discussion with the location manager to figure out exactly what it is you will be looking for in a location. Then off you go with your camera to find the perfect setting to shoot the film. A location scout works closely with the location manager to help find locations in which to film a movie.

The location scout has quite a bit of responsibility. As the location manager's right-hand person, he or she assists the location manager in getting appropriate, photogenic locations for filming. He or she helps negotiate the price of shooting at that location. The scout keeps a written record of all the details of the locations needed and when they must be secured. He or she travels to the location and gathers all relevant information, such as the location's exact address, phone number, contact person, usage fee, and availability. Then the scout takes photographs of the location and notes the time of day and the direction the camera is pointed so that the director can see how things will look as he or she shoots film at various times of the day or night. The location scout must be very careful with details. He or she must note many important features of the location, such as existing power sources and the ease of transporting film equipment to that location. He or she checks the availability and convenience of parking, as well as whether or not there are restaurants or places nearby for the crew to get food. The location scout finds out if permits or special rules restrict usage of the area. He or she also must write down the condition of the location and decide whether or not any special work must be done before filming starts. The location scout checks things like noises from nearby activities, lighting conditions, road conditions, and so on.

As a location scout, it is not only your responsibility to find the perfect spot to shoot the film; it is also your responsibility to get the necessary permission to shoot at that spot. This may involve asking a homeowner if the film crew can shoot on his or her property. Or it may become a much bigger deal if the location is a place of high security or a busy venue that requires some juggling to get a film crew in and around everyday people. Shooting in a big city can create such headaches, but many cities have agencies that assist location scouts to encourage the making of movies or television shows in their municipality.

The location scout has his or her own bag of tools to get the job done. To do this work well, you will need maps, a tape measure, a high-quality SLR camera, a Polaroid or small digital camera, a video camera, a compass, tape, pens, paper, folders, company business cards, a cell phone, a PDA, transportation, and a good memory. You also will need a working knowledge of basic architecture. You must be able to describe accurately the buildings at a particular location and recognize that their style of construction fits the period of the film. Organizational skills are important for a career of this type, too, because the location scout must put together all this information in a folder that is given to the location manager.

As you advance in your career, your first step up will be to the position of location manager. The location manager is responsible for weeding out the locations that cannot be used and then presenting the possible options to the film's director. Not only does he or she have to decide whether the potential location fits the needs of the script; he or she also has to figure out whether the potential location is accessible to the cast and crew with all of their equipment.

The location manager then becomes a negotiator. If the potential location happens to be a home occupied by a family, that home will have to be rented by the film crew. The location manager negotiates the rental price as well as plans to repair any damage that may occur during filming. The film crew generally prefers that the family stay elsewhere during the shooting, and that, too, must be negotiated. Once these tasks are accomplished, the location manager gets busy obtaining the proper permits and insurance to film on the chosen location. On the day of filming, he or she makes sure that everything is as it should be and then he or she is off until the end of the shoot, when the location manager returns to be sure everything is still as it should be.

This is a freelance job, which means that you work for yourself, getting jobs where you can. You will get paid for each job you do. If a production company likes your work, you may find yourself steadily employed by that company. As you build your location managing skills, you may soon be ready to advance to a more prestigious career. You may find yourself following the career path of film producer!

The location manager is one of the very first people to be hired to work on a project. Location managers must be extremely diplomatic, as they are responsible for maintaining a good relationship between the movie company and the community in which they are filming.

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