A Guide to Sending Out a Location Brief
by John Alflatt

© John Alflatt, Behind the scenes with Kate Abbey on a Nokia shoot.

We all know that to carry out commercial photography or filming, a permission or permit is required for anywhere that is not your own private garden!

The location is a critical part of every image for several reasons:

  • The team needs ‘somewhere’ (a space) to shoot that can offer not only the background and space for cast to interact with, but somewhere for the crew, agency and client to occupy and provide support to the core team for the duration of the shoot. (This will need to have or be able to accommodate protection from the weather, toilets, catering space as well as potentially set build space, props storage, wardrobe facilities and space for hair & make up).
  • The location may be strongly featured or non-descript. Both types are equally important! At times a generic non-descript location can be a more difficult brief to fulfil.
  • The location must be suitable for the hours of intended use considering arrival and departure times and possible disruption to residents or businesses and public access or passage.
  • Sustainability should be a very important consideration of not only locations but every aspect of our shoots. We should all attempt to reduce the impact of our productions at every stage. Locations can play a large part in this without compromising the results.

We can investigate shooting ‘closer to home’ whether that is Spain rather than South Africa or the South Coast of the UK rather than abroad.

When researching a studio, we can ask if it uses power and heating from 100% sustainable sources and attempt to book one close to the majority of crew.

We can rationalise transport including ride share where possible.

There are stylists, rubbish removal as well as lighting and production companies who are working hard to reduce the impact of the shoots, they are involved in. I have even met a sound recordist who travels to London shoots by bicycle!

Here are a couple of other amazing facts that highlight simple small steps that we can all take to reduce the footprint of our projects, even eating one delicious vegan meal in a week can have a large impact and we will probably feel healthier for it!

100 x Bags of General / Mixed Waste going to Recycling = 5kg CO2e

100 x Bags of General / Mixed Waste going to Landfill = 120kg CO2e

100 x Vegan Meals = 52kg CO2e

100 x Vegetarian Meals = 76kg CO2e

100 x Chicken Meals = 287kg CO2e

100 x Pork Meals = 313kg CO2e

100 x Lamb Meals = 521kg CO2e

100 x Beef Meals = 989kg CO2e

Key information to think about in relation to a location brief.

  • Brief – Visual references, boards or layouts are a huge help.
  • Date range – Other events may clash – it saves a lot of time if crucial dates are made known right at the start of the project.
  • Hours – Anti social hours (for example night shoots) may be an issue.
  • Budget – Always crucial to have a guide to tailor the search.
  • Client – Location owners will need to know who the client is and whether the project fits within their remit for use of the location.
  • Crew – A rough idea of the total number of people expected to attend the shoot. Even a simple project such as renting a location house is likely to incur a higher charge if larger numbers of people are involved.
  • Vehicles – An idea of number, size and type of vehicles that may need to access or service the location.
  • Action – How will the filming or photography be carried out? A rough idea of what the intentions are will ensure no surprises further down the process.
  • Geographical location – Feature dependent or proximity to other associated locations. Other governing factors may be travel time for cast / crew to avoid OT or to reduce carbon footprint.

Written and contributed by / John Alflatt / 07989 500 990 / johnalflatt@gmail.com  / @jauk2015

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