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:
- assumes the shoot is for commercial / advertising or editorial / corporate still photo shoot with high production values
- local (no overnight travel) location shoot
- specific in some cases to the New York City area
- assumes there is professional talent (models) to be involved
- Note: Does not attempt to cover photographer’s production fees or photography licensing fees.
- 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)
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)
1. Photo Equipment (often as coordinated btn and specified per photographer / digital tech / assistants)
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
See also: Location Scout Business
Miscellaneous ruminations on different business matters as might apply to a location scout…
Can we all agree on an estimate form?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 | 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.
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
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), the award-winning monthly magazine for the professional photographer, has been covering the professional photographic industry for over two decades.
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 provides the entertainment industry with a comprehensive breakdown of projects in pre-production, preparation, and active development for film and television.
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 (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.
Edited for ad agency executives, ADWEEK has the inside stories on: creativity, client/agency relationships, successful global advertising strategies.
The Resource for Film, HD, digital production and post news, tools, tutorials, reviews and case studies. Home of Studio Monthly and Film & Video Magazine.
Studiodaily.com is a new portal site dedicated to helping film and video pros evolve in their crafts and jobs through access to information on tools, workflow, technique and collaboration.
Location Scout Data: Baseline Hollywood (Baseline StudioSystems) & InBaseline
Baseline StudioSystems is the world’s preeminent premier provider of film and television information.
Baseline’s flagship product is The Studio System, a subscription database of premium film and television information. Combining real-time information updates with a sophisticated user interface, The Studio System is the industry’s most powerful and reliable informational tool.
Baseline StudioSystems is a part of The New York Times Company.
On August 25, 2006 – The company acquired Baseline StudioSystems, an online database and research service for information on the film and television industries for US$35 million.
Anil Dash | 11/18/2004
AdWeek magazine, which has long been one of the standard-bearing trade magazines for the advertising industry, has just launched their new TypePad-powered blog AdFreak. Looks like they’re naturals to the form, with the new site being full of attitude and intelligence even in its first few posts.
I love AdFreak – it’s always hilarious (and informative 🙂
Location Scout Resource: Shoot Online
From Shoot’s “About Us” page:
“To Connect” is an overriding theme and an enduring tradition at SHOOT. SHOOT’s unwavering mission for 46 years has been to serve the news and information needs of creative and production decision-makers at ad agencies, and executives & artisans in the production industry.
Shoot Online has recently announced its Publicity Wire Service.
The SHOOT Publicity Wire offers PR, marketing professionals, and entrepreneurs a powerful tool to communicate to a hard-to-reach vertical market comprised of news agencies, search engines, journalists, industry publications, customers, prospects, and influential industry decision-makers in the advertising, broadband, filmmaking, and television production and postproduction industries.
The $49.95 (introductory rate thru April 30th, 2008) price per release seems very reasonable.
This new service seems similar to PRWeb (which I have used) and other online press release services, however, an advantage for production industry related news could be Shoot’s close affiliation with the production industry itself.
Location Scout Resource: New York Times Media and Advertising
The New York Times Media & Advertising section is essential reading for a location scout or anyone involved in creative media production, photography, video, especially if your work base involves working on ads or commercials – it’s, like, your “world”…
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, more than any news organization. Its website is the most popular American online newspaper website, receiving more than 30 million unique visitors per month.
Location Scout Resource: New York Times TMagazine
– If you are a location scout, especially a location scout that works a lot in fashion media, TMagazine can be a very valuable resource. TMagazine features a *lot* of photography (and video), and work shot on location published in TMagazine can be great location reference.
As might be expected, but apart from its arguably “dour” nickname, the “Grey Lady“, the New York Times is at the forefront of fashion, style and the arts with its TMagazine, online sister publication to its hardcopy T The New York Times Style Magazine
The ultimate destination for all things related to style. The new site combines the visually rich, dynamic content of the award-winning magazine with interactive multimedia: videos, infographics and “The Moment” blog, featuring lively updates throughout the day by T editors, guest bloggers and correspondents from around the world.
The fact that the New York Times would pay (and traditionally has paid) as much attention to fashion and style as it has says as much for its legacy as a news journal as it does for its attempting to be a barometer of “fashionable” or “en vogue” – New York City is, of course, well known for setting trends and being an arts / fashion launching pad … – the fashion and arts industries are HUGE factors in New York City’s economy so NY fashion and style / arts trends are of keen interest to many people for a diverse variety of reasons, both locally and worldwide and for business reasons as well as people just wanting to (and / or wanting to see other people 😉 …look good and enjoy the “finer” things in life…
What caught my eye was the recent publication of a series of online short films, TTakes, shot on location recently at this year’s Sundance Film Festival – what’s ironic and interesting is (so far… at this writing only two of the 19 segments have been released…) the films are not so much journalistic coverage of the festival, (which the Times provided as well…) but rather that these short films are more like mini dramas, little films just shot on location in Utah, in many ways seemingly unrelated to the actual film festival.
In our new episodic film series, Hollywood’s bright young things improvise for the camera.
Shot by the emerging New York writer and director Brody Baker during the recent Sundance festival, these 12 short films were conceived to be viewed sequentially and feature the likes of Josh Hartnett, Michael Pitt and Lukas Haas. A new installment of ‘Take’ will be posted each weekday at 10:00 a.m. Tune in on March 17 for the first episode, starring Hartnett.
Umm, they dont mention her but I kinda liked the little vignette that featured gorgeous Morena Baccarin myself… 😉
TMagazine also has its own blog at the Times, The Moment:
About The Moment
The Moment is a daily blog that spans the T Magazine universe of fashion, design, food and travel.
Location scout resource: The Creative Planet websites
are the online version of all those niche trade magazines you always can never resist subscribing to (free for qualified subscribers!) and often wonder what you were thinking as six months of “Widgets Monthly” piles up unread; the upside of the online versions (if you can stay your trembling hand from subscribing by email) is you can stay up to speed on your own time on the latest technologies (yup, lot-o industrial/gear/tech press releases) online -and no trees died for your sins!
Feeds are available, but as far as I can tell only on the The Creative Planet websites, I wasnt able to find any links to subscribe to the feeds. It would be really nice if these feeds were rss-enabled on the public side; If they were, if you had the tech where-with-all to have (and have figured out how to use) a newsreader, subscribing to feeds to my mind is inherently a lot less painful than an email subscription when you just feel information-overloaded or grow loathe of whatever content you may have happenned to have subscribed to. A lot less potential privacy issues as well, altho admittedly a company such as CMP Media (parent of The Creative Planet websites) is by nature in the business of selling advertising based on aggregation of market research and demographics data, which is probably their reason for not offering up anonymous feed subscriptions. Just seems oh-so-old-school…oh well.
On the proverbial flip side of the burger, if you are a business in a related field, companies like CMP can provide an important outlet for announcements of newsworthy events or innovations that involve your business. As depressing as all those back issues of WidgetWorld can look piling up on your commode tank, the fact is that journalists rely on these types of periodicals and the data contained therein for background and research. You want to be sure there is plenty of positive hype about your ground-breaking widget in FindArticles as well as (obviously) on Google and Yahoo.
About Creative Planet Communities
Founded in 1997, the Creative Planet Communities, a division of NewBay Media LLC, offers online resources for the film and television production professional. Updated daily, the CPC sites offer news, articles and discussions forums for the creative community. The company’s network of sites includes 2-pop.com, VFXPro.com, Cinematographer.com, Videography.com, DCinematography.com and DesigninMotion.com.
CREATIVE PLANET COMMUNITIES
- Digital Media DC
- DV Expo
- Surround Expo
- Entertainment Media Expo
- DVD Entertainment Conference
- HDV Roadshow
- Digital Cinematography
- Government Video
- Pro Sound News
- Rental & Staging Systems
- Residential Systems
- Sports TV
- Surround Professional
- Systems Contractor
- Television Broadcast