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Must Read, Production

Set Scouter’s Gift Guide: Ideas for your Production Pals!

December 9, 2014
HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS (2000) Behind the scenes photo of Jim Carrey & Ron Howard

Getting presents for your Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza/Winter holiday season is challenging enough, let alone when your loved one is always working on productions. What do you get a person who has everything…they never have time to use? Well, how about some gifts they can use while working? Here’s a list of ones we thought were interesting to check out.

(If you’re interested in buying the product, just click on the picture for the link. Happy shopping!) Continue Reading…

Locations, Production

Amazing Toronto Kitchens You Should Totally Film In

December 2, 2014
Upscale Contemporary Spacious 10,000 Square Foot Residence on 3/4 Acre

Need an amazing kitchen for your next on-location music video, commercial, or film? Check out a some of our favourite kitchens in the Toronto area.

Brick Two Storey Detached House

Brick Two Storey Detached House with kitchen on Set Scouter

Located in East York, this spacious detached home is perfect for a film set. It features a beautiful and open main floor, stunning kitchen with large middle island, hardwood floors, gorgeous light fixtures, and a finished basement.

Gorgeous Upscale Modern House

Gorgeous Upscale Modern House

Located in Mississauga, this stunning two-storey stone and stucco corner home was custom built in 2009. Perfect for a scene that needs to portray luxury and exquisite taste of the character(s). Fitting for both a family and bachelor(ette) theme.

Modern Cabbagetown Victorian

Modern Cabbagetown Victorian

Located in Leslieville, this 2 story townhouse is perfect for video or photo shoot. Two bedrooms, two bathrooms and an office space. Experience filming multiple cooking shows, great natural light, lots of space for audio and lighting equipment.

Elegant Toronto Condo Located in the Downtown Core

Elegant Toronto Condo Located in the Downtown Core

Located in Downtown Toronto, this beautiful condo apartment is modern and elegant. With a great city view, this space is perfect for filming both inside and out.

Modern House in the Heart of City

Modern House in the Heart of City

Located in North York, this beautiful modern home features an amazing kitchen with large middle island and a modern feel, a beautiful open concept family room, natural light, high ceilings, and giant glass window spanning 10 ft high and 30 ft across. Wow!

Upscale Contemporary Spacious 10,000 Square Foot Residence on 3/4 Acre

Upscale Contemporary Spacious 10,000 Square Foot Residence on 3/4 Acre

Located in Thornhill, this stunning spacious upscale home features marble, hardwood and carpeted floors, dark wood panelling, plenty of natural lighting with floor to ceiling windows, classic modern style decor, and a luxury style feel.

Know of any other great kitchens to film in? Let us know!

Production

Navigating the Industry: An interview with Director/ Executive Producer Adrienne Mitchell

November 25, 2014
Adrienne Mitchell on the set of the CTV series Played.

Adrienne Mitchell is one of the principal owners and Executive Producer at Back Alley Film Productions, and an award-winning and proven dramatic director. Over her more than 20 year career, Mitchell has directed numerous dramas including episodes of the critically acclaimed CBC series Drop The Beat, and Straight Up, and Gemini-nominated erotic anthology series Bliss, all of which Mitchell co-created and executive produced. Continue Reading…

Locations, Production

Location Scouting Checklist: Working with Location Owners

November 13, 2014
Location Scouting Checklist

Location scouting can be time consuming and tedious. What makes it worth the work is meeting a homeowner who is excited to work with your production. A rare moment of peace for a producer is when it’s a smooth production day in the perfect space.

At Set Scouter, we see all kinds of production people do location scouting – from dedicated location scouts and managers, to producers, directors, coordinators, and production assistants. It’s one of those jobs that anyone can be assigned to, but few know how to do effectively.

Lots of other material out there covers the technical aspects of location scouting – check for power outlets, know where the sun is, is there access and parking. We at Set Scouter think that the relationship your production creates with the homeowners is just as vitally important. And that relationship begins with the very first time you message them. There are many seemingly small things we have seen producers do that work very well. Here are 10 things you check off your list as you do location scouting for your film, music video or any media production.

1) Off Set Scouter – cast a wide net. On Set Scouter – keep it focused.

If you are doing your location scouting on Facebook, Twitter and cold calling, you’ll need to contact many property owners to make sure you can scout a few places. If you are using Set Scouter to connect with homeowners, we recommend you keep it focused. The last thing you want is ongoing email communication with 10 people. We recommend you start by reaching out to 2 or 3 of your top choices. You will know right away if homeowners are interested and can move on to the next person.

2) Compliment the house, loft or condo.

Grease Tell Me More

When first emailing or messaging the owner, make sure you treat it the same way you do when pitching your production to crew or funders. Homeowners are also people who are partners in making your production happen. Yes, they do get paid for the rental, but you need them to be happy to work with you.  Many homeowners on Set Scouter are people who don’t need the money, but want to participate in the experience of film production. They list because they spent money and time decorating their space and want you to have a good use for it. So why not start by telling them their space is awesome!

3) Tell them about your production. This is not a relationship to be built on mystery.

What’s the content? They are curious to know. If you are using Set Scouter, these property owners have never met you before. This means that they are relying on your very first message to gauge how trustworthy and professional you are. Make sure you tell them what kind of production you are shooting. It’s a simple way to bring people’s guard down. Here’s an example of an awesome first message:

“Hi Erin, I’m shooting a small independent short film and I’m looking for a modern home to use as a location. Your space is beautiful and exactly what we are looking for. We are looking to shoot on the 25th and 26th of October. We are a small cast and crew of 10 people with one panel van and small equipment package. Because we are an independent production we have about $2000 – $2500 in the budget for location rental. I’d love to book a viewing, is your home available on our shoot date?”

4) Always be in communication. How fast you reply matters.

Writing Email

The worst thing you can do is drop the conversation midway. Even if you found a different space and know that you have no use for their home, let them know. If a location cancels on you last minute (which is not an unrealistic scenario in production), you may need to come back to the people you began scouting with. Just like the relationships on set, the relationships you build with the property owners can make or break your production. To make sure everyone is as communicative as possible, Set Scouter tracks your response time and communication. So if you are always quick to reply, your rating on the website will go up. We think this is a great way to build the relationships and ensure that you always have Set Scouter’s support and homeowner’s full trust in you.

5) Pick locations within your budget, but if you negotiate – Do It Early.

When scouting on Set Scouter, there is little reason to message locations out of your budget. Generally, you should be able to find one that works for you. If you do reach out to one out of your budget, it’s important to communicate your budget early. There are so many filmmakers that wait to negotiate until they’re right in front of the location owner. They think this is a good technique, because they can gauge the owners’ reactions and be more convincing. However, think about it this way: are you operating with a “time is money” mentality? There is a high chance, you will get to a face-to-face meeting and will get a “No” from the owner. The homeowner may feel surprised and cheated. Many homeowners are open to negotiation and know what their lowest price is. If you are over that personal threshold they have set in their mind, they are willing to say yes to your budget right away. If however, they know their minimum and you are offering lower than that, you don’t want to spend the time convincing and beginning an already fickle relationship.

6) Find out exactly what rooms you can use.

The rule of thumb on Set Scouter is that if the picture of the room is up, you can use it. But when you are on your scout, make sure you let them know exactly what corners of the house you will be using. If they don’t want you to walk into a room, an easy thing to do is hang a sign on the door for the rest of the crew. This owner, for example doesn’t want the crew in the bedrooms, here’s what her listing looks like on Set Scouter.

7) Know where the crew and talent will eat.

Louie CK Eats on a Bed

This one is a biggie. No matter what size of crew you have, whether you’re an indie short film or a big budget commercial, every crew needs a good spot for lunch or dinner. This is fairly easy to arrange in a home, unless of course the kitchen and dining area are your sets. Make sure you think of the lunch space ahead of time and tell the homeowners about it as you scout the place.

8) Take lots of pictures right before the shoot.

Men Taking Pictures

Productions always promise to leave spaces as they found them, but what are the chances you can do that without any references? I know it’s the last thing you want to think about as you set up a production, but assign somebody on it and get to picture taking! You will appreciate this when the homeowner claims a scratch on the wall and you can prove it was there all along.

9) Don’t be lazy – cover surfaces. Prepare the space for production.

Ok let’s get real. Your production will take a house and turn it upside down for a period of 12 -17 hours. And then, because you are a good production, you will put it right back to how you found it. However, the things that you can never fully monitor are scratches caused by your equipment (like dollies) and the marks on the carpet from the grip’s shoes. You don’t want to deal with this when it’s all over, so do yourself a favor and cover the surfaces. If you need help, you can always call Location Equipment Supply (for Toronto productions). They specialize in prepping the space.

10) Ready to Wrap: So close, but so far! Don’t skip the walk through and the dummy check.

I know this seems so simple, but we’ve seen even the most professional producers be happy to leave early and leave gaffer tape and garbage on the floor. You took the time to take photos at the beginning of the shoot, don’t skimp out now. Grab the homeowner and do a thorough walkthrough. You’d rather them notify you of a nick on a wall right then and there, than surprise you about it the next day. The worst-case scenario off Set Scouter: These people will never work with you again, and will make sure to tell others all about your irresponsible self (damn, another location burned). The worst case scenario on Set Scouter? You will need to pay a penalty fee. And no one likes losing money. Plus, your ratings on our site will go down. Womp womp.

In general, being nice and respectful can go a long way! Look at these examples of happy emails we get when the producers took the time to do things right.

“We are blown away by how they treated our home. We loved the experience!”

“Everything went well. They were great and the whole experience was very easy!”

“They left the house beautifully and even with a pitcher of wild flowers. We hope to do more in the future because we thought it was a lot of fun.”

“Everything was run very professionally! Exciting evening.”

(and even after some damage…)

“We are very impressed with our first Set Scouter experience. The professionalism of the production team and the staff of Set Scouter made this a good experience and I am confident that this will be resolved.”

Happy Dance

 

In conclusion:

As always, the team at Set Scouter is here to help in every way we can to make the location scouting process easy. Look to us for any advice you may need and together we can build an awesome community of happy production crews and ecstatic location owners.

Production

The Set Speak Dictionary

November 10, 2014
Man using set speak

Getting used to the ‘ins and outs’ of set life can be like learning a new language.  Then there’s the literal ‘new language’ of production – set lingo that means something completely different in the real world.  We’re going to give you a leg up for when you first roll into studio or onto location. You’ll now understand why your filmmaker/producer friends respond to everything with ‘copy’. Continue Reading…

Locations, Production

Awesome Locations in Toronto-filmed Oscar Winner!

November 6, 2014
chicago_2002_2

Article Written by Marijana Miric

Chicago (2002)

This Toronto-filmed musical drama took the title of Best Picture at the 75th Academy Awards in 2003, making it the first musical to win Best Picture since ‘Oliver!’ in 1969. Exploring the themes of celebrity, scandal, and corruption in 1920’s Chicago, ‘Chicago’ won 6 of their 13 Academy Award nominations, including the coveted title of ‘Best Picture.’  Chicago’s own Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart would have shimmied their hearts to out accept that award, but the film’s producer, Martin Richards, beat them to it.

Check out some of the Toronto Locations used in the film! Continue Reading…

Production

Taking Care of Yourself on Set

November 1, 2014
Image from the Vancouver Film School: https://www.flickr.com/photos/vancouverfilmschool/4896554334/in/photostream/

A standard day of 12hrs + on a production can be gruelling and it’s not uncommon to jump back and forth between overnights and getting up at the crack of dawn in a single week.  Burning out is not an option when there are 4 weeks of shooting left, so here are a few tips for taking care of number one on set. Continue Reading…

Production

Set Packing List

October 6, 2014

Getting prepped for your first day on set, or even your first day on a new production can feel similar to moving away from home for the first time. You’re excited and probably a little nervous. You might not know the neighbours at first, but before you know it you’re sitting around at 2 am telling dirty jokes and over-sharing about your personal life. When travelling, your mom probably made you a packing list so you didn’t forget anything. In honour of moms everywhere, here is what you should be packing before you arrive on any production set.

1) A Good Attitude

Will Ferrel Smiles

I can see the eye rolling from here, but simple as it sounds, a good attitude goes miles towards a first impression.  It can be tempting to complain, but you’re all in the same boat and shutting up and getting your work done can only reflect positively. Remember, especially if it’s you’re first time on set – you’re not too good to take out the garbage or mop up after the ‘bloodbath’ scene.

2) Real pants with pockets

This tip is mainly for the ladies – it can be very tempting to wear your most comfy Lulu Lemons on set; after all they’re black, right?  But try clipping a walkie on them, and finding a place for your pen, call sheet, etc.  Go on, I’ll wait.  Unless your intention is to be hiking your pants up all day, go with something else.  You’re going to need your hands…well, handy.  Plus, pockets are a great spot to stash a granola bar from the craft table for future snacking.

3) Comfortable shoes

Boots on the Beach

It goes without saying (or should) but you are going to be on your feet all day.  Comfort always trumps fashion on set.  Closed toes shoes are also essential – inevitably you will drop something on your feet and this way you’re more likely to keep all your toenails. And for the love of god, nothing with a clicky sole or heel!  It’s hard enough to tip toe across set while the camera is rolling without your shoes actively trying to betray you.

4) A warm coat if you’re shooting outside and/or at night

This is probably the most ‘mom’ thing on this list, but it’s so important.  I don’t care what the weather is calling for; no one will have sympathy if you end up freezing your ass off in the wind when you’re outside on fire watch or locking down the set.

5) Your full attention

Pay attention

A busy set can be incredibly chaotic and it can be tempting to let your attention wander.  There’s nothing wrong with dissecting last night’s Habs/Leafs tilt with a camera assist or looking at pictures of the AD’s adorable dogs, as long as you don’t forget that you’re here to work.  Just because one department is waiting around doesn’t mean there’s nothing for you to do.  Always be alert to where you can jump in and offer help.

6) Call Sheet

This technically isn’t something you bring to set, but it’s the first thing to grab as soon as you get there.  You never want to be asking someone what’s going on, or what’s happening next – it’s all there on paper.  If you’re a real keener grab a couple extras and put them in your pocket for people who have forgotten this golden rule.

7) Pens, Sharpies & Tape.

Seth Rogan duct tapes a wall

This is the trifecta of set supplies – someone is always going to need one or all of these items, and it looks great when you can be the one to whip them out of your pocket or bag.  Just don’t expect to get any of this stuff back.


Did we miss anything?  What’s your essential list for set?