I'm packing my bags for a long weekend because guess who's going on a scout? That's right, after a month or so of planning and wrestling with schedules, we've finally decided to head up to the wilds of Northern California to check out some potential filming locations. And, as I'm sure you can tell, I'm REALLY excited about it.
Not to give too much away (in case nothing pans out), we're headed to a fantastic lodge packed away amidst the redwoods that Mike found a year ago (or so) in his travels. I'm sure will inundate you with all kinds of details about the trip when we get back, but before that I figure it's important to discuss what every director should do before a major scout like this. Starting with a list.
Uncle Slavko's Scout Packing List:
Paper - In whatever form you prefer (legal pads, moleskins, necromicon, etc), make sure you bring something to write on. With the amount of information that you're going to digest, you need to make sure you have something to record all of your thoughts and ideas. If you're like me, you'll think you can just remember it all, but you'll be mistaken (just like me). Any notes, thoughts, or general ideas that you get down will help you immensely months from now when you can't remember how far the bar is from the front door, the paint color in the rooms, or just how many plugs there are in the whole place. Trust me, it sucks to be your future self when you don't take notes.
Camera - They say that pictures are worth a thousand words, so put down that pencil and pick up a lens. Aside from paper, this is the most important thing to bring with you. It doesn't have to be fancy, but it does need to be able to handle lots and lots of similar and boring looking photos. Just like how you'll be cursing yourself if you don't take good notes, you'll wish you had a time machine to kick your own ass if you don't take enough pictures. Take the time and shoot everything thing you can from every angle, and then do it again. Each pictures will help you visualize the final product, so don't be afraid to keep snapping. Oh, and make sure you take a few pictures of you on the scout too, you know, for prosperity.
Laptop - Personally, I don't go anywhere without mine, but I'm kind of crazy. A real computer (not an ipad) helps you carry all those little things you didn't think you'd need. From a script to reference, to contact information, or even just a funny video to cheer you up in the middle of the night, your laptop is the best tool in your tool box. Plus, you can use it to type up all your notes from the day so you'll have everything nice and digital for increased versatility. Also, if you remember the cord, you can help clear off the space on your camera to make sure you have space for all the pictures you're taking.
A Nice Change of Clothes - The best way to be taken seriously is to dress seriously. Now, I'm not advocating wearing a suit or anything (you don't want to be too formal), but certainly a nice button up or anything with a collar does wonders to increase you're perceived seriousness. I love the novelty Tee's as much as the next guy, but when trying to convince an owner that you won't mess up their property maybe it's best to leave it at home. There will be plenty of other opportunities to show off your hip wardrobe after you've proven you're a serious filmmaker and you've signed a contract on the location, I promise.
And you know, don't forget the little stuff, like toothpaste and deodorant because smelling good equates with success.
With your bags packed, it's time to prepare your mind for the trip. Reread the script before you arrive, so you can talk about the events in and answer questions about it with ease. Try to create the ultimate picture of the location in your head, and see how this location works with the idealized version. No place will be perfect, but if it's too far off, maybe you'd be better off trying to find a new location. Finally, keep an open mind. Finding a location is the first step in your movie becoming a reality, but it's also the first step in it changing. Be prepared to to problem solve and trouble shoot scenes if you ultimately choose that location.
Before I go, I want to stress one point: assuming that this ends up being the place, you have to remember that you'll see it again. Any good production team should travel to said location many times before actually shooting, so just keep that in mind as I continue on. I just don't want you to be too worried about remembering everything, that you forget to actually SEE the location.
Because remember, the most important thing about a scout is seeing the location and making sure it works. As long as you keep that in mind, you'll do fine.
Okay, I gotta go start packing and such. We'll talk about how it went next week.