Location Scout Notes: Production Estimating



Location Scout Notes: Production Estimating

Once you stretch your legs a bit as a location scout / location manager, if you have aspirations to broaden your horizons, you may be presented with opportunities to work in other production department roles, such as a production coordinator, line producer, or even executive producer. The Assistant Director often seems to be tasked with production chores. Any way you slice it, it is all about making things happen to make the production “come together” and a big part of those challenges revolve around cost control and communicating how much different aspects of a production are likely to cost to those entities in charge of allocating money from the production budget.

As a producer or production coordinator, when asked to estimate production costs for a specific shoot, there are almost always some of the basic line items that have to be covered…

The following laundry list is presented with the caveat that, every production is uniquely different and can, in fact (and often does) change on the fly.

The following should be used ONLY as a very basic jumping off point:

  1. assumes the shoot is for commercial / advertising or editorial / corporate still photo shoot with high production values
  2. local (no overnight travel) location shoot
  3. specific in some cases to the New York City area
  4. assumes there is professional talent (models) to be involved
  5. Note: Does not attempt to cover photographer’s production fees or photography licensing fees.
  6. Rates: Fees vary significantly from market to market – if a stable of familiar crew used on past jobs does not exist, best to call as many qualified candidates as possible and get a range of day – rates.

Basic Line Items to Consider:


1. Producer (you! 😉
a. PrePro Day(s) (research, crewing, coordination…)
b. Shoot Day(s)
c. Strike / Wrap/ Returns Day(s)

2. Location Scout
a. Research / File Pull Fees / Clearing / Permitting
b. Location Scouting – Photography / Organization / Presentation / Storage
c. Tech Scouting with Photographer / Client
d. Location Management – on set presence on shoot day

3. Casting Director
a. Research / Booking Day(s)
b. Casting Day(s)

4. Stylist(s) (Wardrobe / Set / Prop Stylist(s) as appropriate
a.Research / PrePro / Prep Day(s)
b. Shopping Day(s)
c. Shoot Day(s)
d. Wrap / Strike / Returns Day(s)

5. Hair and Makeup / Groomer
a. Shoot Day(s)

6. Digital Tech
a. Prep / Research / Rental Equipment Pickup / Returns Day(s)
b. Shoot Day(s)

7. Assistants
7a. First Assistant
a. Research / PrePro / Rental Equipment Pickup / Returns Day(s)
b. Shoot Day(s)
7b. 2nd Assistant
a. Research / PrePro / Rental Equipment Pickup / Returns Day(s)
b. Shoot Day(s)
7c. 3rd / 4th Assistant(s)
a. Shoot Day(s)
7d. Stylist Assistant(s)
a. Research / PrePro / Prep / Shopping Day(s) / Returns Day(s)
b. Shoot Day(s)
7e. Casting Assistant(s)
a. Research / Prep Day(s)
b. Casting Day(s)


Models / Actors / Extras


1. Photo Location(s)
a. Prep / Wrap Day(s)
b. Shoot Day(s)
2. Casting Studio
a. Casting Day(s)
3. Stylist Prep Space
a. Prep Day(s)
4. Talent Holding / Equipment / Prop Staging Space(s)
a. Prep (Staging) Day(s)
b. Shoot Day(s)

Equipment Rentals

1. Photo Equipment (often as coordinated btn and specified per photographer / digital tech / assistants)
a. Cameras
b. Computers / Accessory Hardware
c. Lighting / Grip

2. Stylist / Misc Rentals
a. Steamer(s) / Clothes Rack(s) / Hangers/ Iron/ Ironing Board/ Tools (some items may be part of kit?)
b. Folding Tables (as may be needed for equipment / props / wardrobe / catering / client workspace)
c. Folding Chairs (as may be used by idle crew / talent / client workspace)
d. Golf / Sun Umbrellas / Folding Canopies / Tent(s) (if outdoors)

Props / Wardrobe

1. Possibilities to be either/ or purchase(s) / rentals. Coordinate with Photographer/ Stylist / Client

Set / Prop / Model Construction

1. Set Building is more often related to a studio shoot but probably worthy of mention / consideration here
2. Prop or Model / Miniature / Mock-Ups

Catering / Food Service / Refreshments


1. Motorhome (if needed)
a. Shoot Day(s)
2. Equipment Truck(s) / Van(s) Rental
a. Prep / Pickup PrePro Day(s) (if equipment not delivered by vendor)
3. Crew Transportation (Cabs / Subways / Auto Rentals as might be used by crew – could be mileage paid if crew owns vehicle)
a. Photo Asst(s) Equipment Rental Pickup / Return
b. Stylist / Stylist Asst(s) Shopping / Prep / Returns
c. Location Scout
d. Casting Director (i.e. Street Casting)
e. Talent (especially if location is outside Manhattan)
4. Trucking and Deliveries / Pickups (if not done by crew as may be appropriate)
a. Product/ Merch (if not arranged by client)
b. Equipment (Cameras / Computers / Lighting / Grip)
b. Props / Wardrobe
c. Couriers (client / crew production hard copy correspondence as may be appropriate)
d. Catering Delivery / Pickup (often part of Catering Fee from caterer)


1. Shipping (i.e. hard drives / merch / props to / from client)
2. Gas / Tolls / Parking
3. Copies / Printing/ Misc Office Expenses (i.e sundry call sheets / production books / other office correspondence
4. Long Distance Phone Charges / Faxes



rrhobbs/delicious/production feed

Location Scout Business

Location Scout Business

See also: Location Scout Business

Miscellaneous ruminations on different business matters as might apply to a location scout…

Stockland-Martel - Estimating Article 1

Stockland-Martel – Estimating Article 1

Can we all agree on an estimate form?

…via Can we all agree on an estimate form? « Stockland Martel Blog

Estimates: You can’t live with them, and you can’t live without them. They’re a bear to assemble and often just as complicated to parse if you’re the one doing the hiring. And the fact that everyone uses their own form/format only adds a layer of headache-inducing complexity.

read more

Stockland-Martel Estimating Article - 2

Stockland-Martel Estimating Article – 2

Establishing a universal estimate form, part 2 « Stockland Martel

Last week, I posted a Q&A with Allegra Wilde on her efforts to establish a Universal Bid Form for the photo industry. She mentioned that she was working on the project with Lou Lesko of BlinkBid, “who agreed to put together a template example for us, and has also agreed to give up a proprietary position, vis a vis his competition, by making any eventual form available to anyone in our industry for free, (including his competitors) and available as an open-source document.

read more

Stockland - Martel

Stockland – Martel

Stockland Martel

Location Scout Resource: Tools + Utilities

Location Scout Resource: Tools + Utilities

Location Scout Resource: Tools + Utilities

is a collection of various (mostly) electronic tools I know (because I have used…) or I think might be useful for a location scout, location manager or other production person. Could be a website (with an online “tool” (?), software, etc. Most are free, but if there is some cost involved, I’ll try to mention it.

Digital Content Producer  - Production Primer

Digital Content Producer – Production Primer

Location Scout Resource: A Primer on Production

By Bill Miller

From planning a budget to hiring a crew, this ‘how to’ guide will help you through the common pitfalls of video production.

Depending on the size of your production, one person can usually do more than one job. For most budgets, a few key people can do all of the jobs required.

In Defense Normal Working Hours - DCP

In Defense Normal Working Hours – DCP

Location Scout Labor: “Normal” Working Hours

Couple of interesting treatises from Digital Content Producer on the subject of long workdays typical in the production industry:

Digital Content Producer

Digital Content Producer

Digital Content Producer | Eight Hours for Hollywood

Sep 1, 1998 12:00 PM | Marsha Scarbrough

After veteran line producer Robert Schneider budgeted a $40 million below-the-line studio feature film based on the usual 12-hour shooting day, he decided to try an experiment. He re-budgeted the same film based on an eight-hour day. He was challenging the long-held assumption that movie crews must work a 12-hour minimum day to counter the high daily costs of stage, location, and equipment rentals.

He extended the 17-week shooting schedule to 20 weeks and refigured the budget based on an eight-hour camera day with one-hour prep time and one-hour wrap time.

The new budget came in one million dollars cheaper.

Digital Content Producer | Extreme Hours – Film Professionals on Hollywood’s Dark Side

Nov 1, 2006 12:02 AM | By Marsha Scarbrough

Most film production professionals have stories about working extreme hours. I personally tell tales of a rainy all-nighter in Texas where the crew went into 13 meal penalties. That night, the gaffer ordered two electricians to link arms with me to hold me up because I was falling asleep on my feet between calling out “Rolling” and “Cut.” To this day, I bless Reggie Boatright for saving me the embarrassment of falling face-first into a sea of mud while Burt Reynolds was emoting. Fortunately, I was on a distant location, so a Teamster-driven van took me back to the hotel in the morning. I was lucky I didn’t have to face the danger of driving home.

RH note: …and I can count the times on one hand when the shoot ran over there wasn’t a crybaby about paying the location owner overtime.



Digital Content Producer Magazine Feed

Periodical Journal - valessiobrito / openclipart.org

Periodical Journal – valessiobrito / openclipart.org

Production Publications

Note: paid subscription is required to access all features of some of these publications. Visit the site(s) for current rate(s). Other than being an an Amazon Affiliate (as stated in the Privacy Policy), I am not affiliated with any external publication mentioned on Location Scout R. Richard Hobbs – nyc.locationscout.us unless specifically noted exactly as such. – RH

P3 Update

P3 Update

P3 Update Magazine

About P3 Update Magazine

Founded by James Thompson in 1986, P3 Update provides the latest information on technology, equipment, and locations for professionals who work in the preproduction, production, and postproduction phases of film, television, broadcast, commercial, and video.

P3 (stands for “preproduction, production, and postproduction”) always has interesting news and info about new trends in the video and filmmaking industries in the areas of equipment and practices, people making news in film production and highlighting different geographical areas worldwide with regard to use of those areas as filming locations, producing a new print edition monthly and maintaining a web presence of content based around same. Periodically there are articles for / about location scouts and location managers. -RH



P3Update Digital Edition Feed

Photo District News

Photo District News

Location Scout Resource: Photo District News (PDN) | PDN Newswire

Photo District News (PDN) provides a Newswire section of content of likely interest to professional photographers. Since I am a location scout, I am *very* interested in what is interesting to photographers, since I work for photographers often. …not to mention I love looking at photographs and photography in general!

Newswire might contain business news which is of interest to me as a location scout or photo producer for many of the same reasons as above.

Photo District News (PDN) | About

Photo District News (PDN), the award-winning monthly magazine for the professional photographer, has been covering the professional photographic industry for over two decades.



PDN Newswire feed

Location Scout R. Richard Hobbs - nyc.locationscout.us

Location Scout R. Richard Hobbs – nyc.locationscout.us

PDN Photosource Search Results: “rrhobbs”

Markee Magazine Online

Markee Magazine Online

Markee Magazine

Markee is a results-driven magazine that has been published monthly since December 1985.

Editorially, Markee covers the gamut of film and video production and postproduction subjects resulting in a greatly diversified readership. Articles ranging from selecting and financing equipment to producing and shooting film and video; from postproduction subjects, to independent filmmaking, DV and HD — plus regularly scheduled specialty supplements. Markee’s seasoned writers target the professionals of our industry. They know the industry inside-out, and that’s what makes Markee’s articles tops — they’re informative and timely.

Production Weekly

Production Weekly

Production Weekly

Production Weekly provides the entertainment industry with a comprehensive breakdown of projects in pre-production, preparation, and active development for film and television.

read more

Hollywood Reporter

Hollywood Reporter

Hollywood Reporter

The Hollywood Reporter is the definitive interpretive voice of the entertainment industry. Informing, engaging and empowering content is delivered across a multimedia platform that includes: a weekly magazine, bi-monthly special reports, quarterly glossies, a Website, a daily news PDF, iPad app and events. The Hollywood Reporter is read by the most powerful people in the entertainment industry and the most influential consumers who follow it – those who shape desire, set trends and ultimately drive culture – providing an unmatched level of access and influence.



Location Scout Resource: Variety TV Production Chart

note: this chart seems to have gone on hiatus?

  • Replaced by Live Plus Seven and not recently updated?

In any case the Variety Magazine website is a good location scout resource for general media news.

Variety | TV Production Chart


Production chart updated in Daily Variety every Thursday. Please send production chart additions, corrections, changes or questions to Dave Lewis by using this form. Submit changes at least three days before print publication.



Location Scout Resource: Adweek Creative

I have always been most fond of indulging myself the Adweek Creative section… there are always stories about recent tv spots and print advertising that has been created as well as the people behind them (i.e. directors, producers… even location scouts! 😉



Adweek – Wikipedia

Adweek (aka Ad Week or Adweek – Eastern Edition) is a weekly American advertising trade publication that was first published in 1978. Adweek covers creativity, client/agency relationships, global advertising, accounts in review, and new campaigns. During this time, it has covered several notable shifts, including cable television, the shift away from commission-based agency fees, and the Internet.

About Adweek