Yesterday, I told the process of finding our cast for “Don’t Be Scared.” While it wasn’t the easiest thing in the world due to the plethora of talent we’ve found in terms of actors through the years, it was a walk in the park compared to finding a location.
All of our films in the past have been incredibly easy to find a location. For “Tick, Tock, Toe” (To be released this fall) we used my bedroom, for “The Invention” (also to be completed this December) we used JD Scruggs’ (gaffer) garage and for “The Proposal Complex” we used JD Scruggs’ (producer/gaffer) backyard and garage. As you can see, we have pretty much used locations that we have access to.
“Don’t Be Scared” is a completely different animal. For one, we needed a two story home. We also needed this home to have old time/antique feel to it which also included a grandfather clock and a long stairway. None of the crew has a home like this. Initially we almost had a location from one of our previous collaborators but that fell through.
Since we had no immediate options, what happened for the next month was approach friends and family to see if they had/know of a location that meets our requirements. The results? Nothing. Notta. Zilch.
Considering we had no immediate connections, I then resorted to posting on Craigslist, a plethora of film boards, social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin. I got a couple of likes for posting the query (still don’t understand what for); however, once again came up with NOTHING!!!!
It should be noted at this point in time, we had about a month left before our shoot date. Needless to say, I started to get a little worried. While it’s nice that we had everything in place, the shoot can’t go on without a location.
Almost out of ideas, I used an out of the box method to hopefully find our location, which was to look for houses that fit our description on the real estate market and contact the house’s realtor. At first I had some promising hits. The realtors were intrigued and stated how they would ask the current owners if we could use it. As you can expect, a week, two weeks went by and nothing. I’m guessing the owners had not interest to say the least.
I still was posting on the aforementioned sites about us needing a location, probably bordering on being seen as spam. At this point, we had just chosen our cast, and since I ran out of options, I asked if they knew of anything. David Scott Crawford (playing Uncle John) brought up this bed and breakfast place in Oak Park. Sadly, while the location was really good, the price was a bit steep, plus we would have had to change our shoot dates.
Looking into the bed and breakfast gave me an idea though. Recently when I went on a trip to Atlanta, someone suggested to me using airbnb.com. For those who don’t know, Airbnb is a site where people put their homes online where they rent out rooms much like a hotel but usually at a cheaper price. Since I needed something quick, I decided to give it a shot, took a look and went on a messaging spree on various two story homes in the area.
Lo and behold, the following morning I got 10 responses. I was absolutely floored by this and thought to myself “Why the hell didn’t I try this before?” Now, some might say I might have been a little optimistic at this step, and at one point I agreed because early on, the locations didn’t work. Either the owner didn’t like how much room we would have taken or the location didn’t fit the film.
Two Mondays ago though I went to two of the homes for scouting. The first I went to, while it had a great exterior was rather crammed, didn’t have a good stairwell or a grandfather clock.
The second house I was intrigued by from the pictures online. Mainly because it had a grandfather clock. Anyways, I toured the house and the owner was very inviting and seemed quite intrigued in our project. She gave me a tour and it pretty much had everything we needed…
It should be noted at this point that I pretty much knew we had found our location; however, I actually had another scheduled visit for the following day. I contemplated it and while I’m sure the other location could have worked, this one was perfect. Not only did it have everything we wanted, but it also was closer to most of the cast and crew.
Having said that though, I didn’t want to confirm it with the owner just yet, so the following night I invited Josh Paney (Director of Photography) to come out with me to look at the location. I needed to know it was alright with him as he needs to be able to work within the confines of it. While he said there might be some complications, namely the narrow stairway, he agreed that it worked and right then and there the location was ours, and we didn’t even have to change our shoot dates.
What did I learn from all of this?
1. Do NOT set a shoot date until you have a location locked.
2. Don’t assume people will just be okay with filming in their home, even if they are friends and or family.
3. I swear I don’t work for the website, but I have to say now that Airbnb.com is an invaluable resource if you’re trying to find a location.
Needless to say there was a huge relief once we locked down the location and I could get down to business preparing the final assets needed for production.
– Simon Mounsey, Producer/Director of “Don’t Be Scared”