Costs of filming on location

Okay, like a lot of people, I enjoy playing with my video camera. My friend has released a couple of independent films to a few local theaters. Cheap films but it’s fun for him I guess.

Since I’m not a film major there’s something I don’t understand. I realize to shoot a major scene involving danger or located in some major place of business would require permits and stuff. But would it cost anything to film a simple scene along a back road near my house out in the countryside?

Well, I’m not a lawyer or filmmaker, but I do have an opinion.

The problem is that something could happen while you are filming. It could be an injury or you might start a fire or something. When something like that happens, people will start looking for responsible parties to sue. As filmmaker, you are one of those people. The owner of the land is another.

Even back roads are owned by somebody–usually the town, county, state, or the feds.

It’s always good to have permission. It’d be a bummer to get caught.

It depends on where you are. If your town has a film commission, they can help you out. If you’re “playing with your video camera”, you can probably get away with a bit of guerilla filmmaking. Just shoot it and try not to look conspicuous. If you have a bit of a crew, this can be difficult. I was on a shoot once when we didn’t have a permit (well, one time in particular :wink: ) and a ranger came along. We said we were getting ready to shoot a student film and were just testing the camera to make sure it worked. He just told us to stay off of the highway.

A back road mightn’t be a problem, especially if you have a small crew and there is little or no traffic. But if you want to close a street in town, then you’ll have to get official permission. A small town might let you close a street for an hour on a slow day without charge. Or it might not. You may need a permit (usually), but depending on your town you might not.

So I guess the answer is, “It all depends…”

If you go guerilla, it shouldn’t cost much.
Tape stock, feed the cast & crew.
Your particular area might require a permit but again if you work efficiently you can get in and out and nobody knows the difference.

Of course I recommend security and permits.
I’ve been kicked off too many locations to go that route anymore.
It’s really a bitch when you’ve shot half your scene and have to start all over again somewhere else.

There’s a saying : It’s easier to ask foregiveness than permission.
Forget that and do it right.

Well, to do it legally, you would probably have to get a permit from the county or township to close the road for a while. There’s usually a small fee involved with that.

For a professional film, the majority of the location expense is probably shipping in the equipment needed (big lights, cameras, sound boards, generators, etc.) and the people needed (actors, sound techs, camera operators, lighting techs, etc.) and in providing facilities & work space for all of them.

There is also the fact that the ‘locals’ sometimes decide to take advantage of the big, rich film company, and raise the prices they charge to them for anything. I seem to remember that on the filming of Jaws, the producer became so irritated at being charged exhorbitant prices on things like taxi rides to and from town that he brought in his own cars & drivers to provide this.

I heard this one: A film company was filming a period piece (c.1800s) in New York or New Jersey. One of the apartments on the street had an air conditioner installed in the window. The guy didn’t want to remove it, so they paid him $100 to take it out while they shoot.

The next day, several apartments had window air conditioners installed. :stuck_out_tongue:

Can you say, “Fix it in post” ?