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How to determine where to film your next project
I'm often hired to schedule and budget films in development or early pre-production. One of the discussion points that is often addressed is where the best place to film is for their specific project.
I often ask a series of questions to determine the best possible location for the project that is under consideration.
1. Where do the primary sets take place?
If the majority of your film takes place in a prison or hard-to-reach location, it is a good idea to make sure that whichever area you are filming in allows for filming in this type of venue.
2. Do you want to chase after tax incentives?
If the answer is yes, then it’s a good idea to research possible states and countries that have various incentives and see what their qualifications are. I typically use the following website from EP to determine tax incentives for any given project. It’s important that you understand that not all tax incentives are the same. A non-transferable/non-refundable tax credit is not really worth going after, as it only applies to a tax refund. What productions really want are rebates or refundable/transferable tax credits that count towards the production’s physical budget.
3. How large is the crew base?
Some cities have fairly small crew bases, whereas cities such as Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, and New Orleans have thriving crew bases. If you film in a city that is not considered a film hub, then housing costs can skyrocket as you may have to put up a majority of your cast and crew in a hotel.
4. Do you plan to film part or all of the movie on a sound stage?
If the answer is yes, it’s a good idea to do some preliminary research and determine how many stages are in the given location and what the potential availability is. Some sound stages are booked to capacity for years at a time.
5. At what time of year does the story take place?
If your story takes place in the winter and requires a ton of snow, then it’s important to consider a state or country that can handle this without the use of special effects.
6. Do you know anyone else who has shot a similar movie?
Occasionally, I will ask other filmmakers who I know have shot a movie in the genre or type of project that I am attempting to budget. Because everyone’s experience is vastly different, it can be helpful to get an opinion from someone who has filmed in a certain city or country.
7. Do you have access to any free locations?
If the answer is yes, then exploring the location of the free location could benefit the entire production if a majority of the filming takes place there.
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