As an indie filmmaker, budget is often a major concern. One area where costs can quickly add up is location scouting. However, there are several ways you can save money while still finding the perfect locations for your film.

1. Utilize free or low-cost locations

Public spaces such as parks, streets, and schools are often free to use or require a small permit fee. This can be a great way to save money on location fees while still finding a suitable location. Local businesses may also be willing to allow you to film at their location for a fee or for free in exchange for some publicity. This can be a win-win for both parties, as the business gets exposure and you get a unique location for your film.

2. Scout locally

Travel costs can add up quickly when location scouting, so try to scout locations that are within a reasonable driving distance from your production base. This will save on transportation costs and also make it easier to transport equipment and crew to the location.

3. Be flexible with your location requirements

The more specific your location requirements, the harder it will be to find a suitable location, and the more it may cost. Instead, try to be open to a range of different locations and be willing to adapt your script or storyboard to fit the location you find. This can save you the cost of scouting and securing a more specific location.

4. Use virtual scouting tools

If you can’t physically visit a location, there are several tools that allow you to scout virtually. Google Street View, for example, allows you to explore locations from the comfort of your own computer. You can also use platforms like LocationLand to search for and connect with location owners. This can save you the cost of traveling to a location for scouting.

5. Consider using a location scout service

Hiring a location scout can save you time and energy, but it can also save you money. A good location scout will have relationships with location owners and be able to negotiate favorable rates. They will also be able to find locations that meet your specific requirements and help you avoid any costly mistakes.

6. Use props and set design to transform a location

Instead of searching for a location that perfectly fits your vision, consider using props and set design to transform an existing location into what you need. This can save you the cost of scouting and securing a more specific location.

7. Work with a smaller crew

The larger your crew, the more space and facilities you will need on location. By working with a smaller crew, you can save on location fees and also be more flexible with your location choices.

8. Scout during the off-season

Location fees are often lower during the off-season when demand is lower. Consider scouting locations during the winter or on weekdays to get a better rate.

9. Negotiate location fees

Don’t be afraid to negotiate location fees with location owners. They may be willing to lower the price if you are able to offer them something in return, such as publicity or a percentage of the film’s profits.

10. Use a sound stage

If you need a controlled environment for your film, consider using a sound stage instead of scouting for a location. Sound stages can be rented for a fee and offer a range of benefits, including the ability to control lighting and sound, access to power and other amenities, and the ability to build and change sets easily. This can save you the cost of scouting and securing a location, as well as the cost of transporting equipment and crew to a remote location.

By following these tips, you can save money on location scouting while still finding the perfect locations for your film.