On finding and securing locations for Filmmaking in Cebu

Know how to choose and secure a location for an independent film, as the location plays a big role in the entirety of the film.

Independent film productions, particularly that in Cebu Philippines,  are usually those that have low or no budget.

Because of this, it is important to know how to find and secure reasonable locations that can fit both the film and the budget. And most importantly, maintain positive relations with the owners and/or managers of locations in Cebu.

1. Study the entire script thoroughly and list down the details and characteristics of the possible locations fit for the scenes. Then determine the possible places that can serve as the locations for the scenes.

Generally locations fall into two categories: “private” and “public”.

? Private locations – in almost all cases you will need permission to shoot on a private location, like an office building or residence.  It is important to get the location owner (or an authorized representative) to sign a release form giving the filmmakers permission to use the location.

Using private locations may or may not involve a fee – this really depends on the circumstances and persuasiveness of the filmmakers.

? Public locations – in most places in Cebu, filmmakers can shoot freely in public locations, however it is prudent to always check first with the local authorities.

Crowded areas or popular locations will always be more hassle to use than quieter ones.

If planning on shooting in a busy area or with a reasonably large crew during peak hours, obtain co-operation from the local police or authority for crowd and traffic control. But this might require “honorarium” or fees, thus added production costs.

2. Be realistic about the locations. Set a limit of how much can be allocated for the locations and make sure that the budget is not exceeded

3. Start close to home. Talk to relatives and friends in Cebu about potential locations. Ask for their referrals and ideas on where one can find such places. They may even offer their places for free or on discounted rates. Or better yet, they can give you referrals to friends of friends and avail of friendly discounts.

Looking around the locality and on familiar places. This saves time, money, and energy in transporting people (cast and crew) and movie-making equipment. It is as much helpful to deal with familiar places as with dealing with familiar faces as one can get easily befriend both.

4. Mark in the list the locations that are available for the independent film. Drive around these places to get acquainted with the locations.

5. Make sure that the location is safe; secure not an area where crime and violence isn’t prone. Do not expose cast and crew to risky areas which is only an added hassle to the production. Make sure that the location has decent parking space or a lot for your vehicles.

6. Look for the necessary amenities. Is there a washroom for the cast and crew can access and use? Is there an area in the location where equipment and belongings can be stored and secured? Not accessible for any passer-bys, avoid potential thievery.

Are there nearby grocery marts or stores for food and refreshments? Where is the nearest hospital in case there is an accident? Nearby gas stations, restaurants, and hardware stores are good to know as well.

7. Prepare a “pitch package”, which consists of shooting schedule, plot details, the script, and all the necessary information of the movie’s technicalities, such as cast and crew lists and the equipment list. The package will surely impress the owner of the place to convince them it will be worth their while to help with the production of the independent film.

8. Present the pitch package / film materials to the owner or manager of the place in a clear, humble, pleasant manner—aim for the best Yes, always be ready for the No.

Be professional and polite and dressed well. Know exactly what is needed to to be filmed in their location and roughly how long it will take, and how many people will be at the location, what sort of equipment and other items to be expected to be brought on location . Don’t lie or leave anything important out.

Be honest and humble. Let the owner know that the film production is an independent or student project so as not to charge you big. Also, most people are more enthusiastic to help out students and offer free use of locations.

9. Politely offer something or exchange deal for the use of the place. Also prepare to recompense for electricity of the location to be used in the production.

Be ready to offer with an “extra” part for the manager or owner or for the owner’s d daughter or son, girlfriend or wife.

If the location is a business establishment like an eatery or a shop, offer free advertisement through the film, for example as an acknowledgement in the film’s credits.

10. Sign a contract or release form only when you are absolutely sure of the location. Remember that the contract can lock the filmmakers to certain limitations such that you can no longer find for a better location that will fit the film better.

11. Arrange the schedule with the use of the locations.

12. IMPORTANT! When permitted to use a location (public or private), make sure that the production’s cast and crew are instructed to treat the location with utmost respect and care during the shoot days, and leave the location in better condition.

It is very easy for a production cast and crew to damage a location (and owners can be well aware of this). Bring cleaning materials like brooms, dustbins, dustpans and trash bags. Make it mandatory that after every shoot day, the location is cleaned and returned to its pristine condition before the shoot.

IMPORTANT! One must be in good terms with the locations’ owners and/or managers at the start and at the end of the shoot or production because one never knows that in the future, the same location might be required for a different movie production.

Take very good care of locations. It’ll be a big help to fellow/colleague filmmakers if location owners/managers consider working with student or independent filmmakers to be a pleasant and rewarding experience.

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