The value of a GREAT location, backdrop and props… How to get production value for very little money

We just had a film submitted to Imapact50 that shows the value of getting a GREAT location, with great props.

When you achieve this, the major benefit is that wherever you point the camera, it looks great (or at least credible). This is one reason why we found the location for the Presidents Speech that we shot a few weeks back.

All too often films with great camera, great sound and best of all, GREAT acting, fall down because it’s all set against a beige wall.

To counter this effect, look for locations that… 

  1. Suit the story
  2. Have depth, so no small rooms
  3. Have texture and contrast
  4. Have enough space to work, in front and behind the camera
  5. Have lots of detail and props to break up the background
  6. Isolate your featured props and spend time to get them right (like the bathtub in this short)
  7. Are good for sound (look for roads, planes and other ambient noise to avoid)
  8. Consider windows as the sun moves
  9. Access for crews
  10. Facilities such as toilets and catering spaces and power (if you have a lot of non LED lighting)
  11. Security

Above all, find places that are bigger than needed, and that have built in detail and authenticity. This also helps the camera team and of course allows actors to shine even more. One last tip, get a cheap smoke machine and diffuse a tiny bit in most shots, it can often help create atmosphere when struggling. Use diligently though.

Great work from team BFW in South Africa.

Chris Jones

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