CHOOSING A CAREER / JAN. 06, 2015
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How to Become a Location Scout in the US

Finding the perfect location for shooting a film, television program, commercial or even a wedding photograph is integral to the quality of the final product. It is the responsibility of location scouts to do their homework and find the best filming locations. If you want to get paid to hit the road, this is the career for you.

What Do Location Scouts Do?

The job of location scouts involves:

  • Reading the script to determine the kind of environment needed for various scenes
  • Conducting a file search of all potential locations
  • Initiating contact with location owners to obtain scouting permission
  • Visiting the selected locations and taking notes describing the locations current condition – This includes taking photographs or capturing videos
  • Submitting the descriptive notes to producers and directors.

Some of the details these scouts look out for include:

  • Sources of electricity
  • Ample parking for crew
  • Ambient sound and lighting
  • Ease of access to the location

Work Environment

If you prefer an office gig, this career will definitely bore you. Location scouts travel extensively in a bid to find the best locations. Those who work for large production companies often travel abroad. So there is a possibility you could go for days or weeks without being close to your family.

Although this is a typical 9am to 5pm job, many scouts work in the evenings and weekends, especially when locations are need for urgent filming.

Salary

Below is the average salary that location scouts make in a year:

Occupation

 

Annual Salary

Location scout

 

$49,000

Source: Indeed

Entry Requirements

Unlike many careers in the film and TV industry, you don’t need any advanced qualifications to become a location scout. A high school diploma and knowledge of the film industry and production process can be enough to get you hired.

To gain this knowledge, you can attend film school and pursue courses in venue design, screenwriting or even production.

Some institutions, such as the Columbia College in Chicago, run location scouting and management workshops, which you can attend to improve your suitability for the job.

Since the job may involve driving the company vehicle to various locations, it is essential to have an active driving license.

Important Qualities

To do this role competently, you will need:

  • The ability to find quick solutions to logistical problems
  • A strong visual awareness
  • A good level of creativity
  • Good negotiation skills
  • Good communication skills
  • The ability to work for long hours
  • An understanding of local procedures for obtaining permits
  • A passion for travelling
  • Good networking skills
  • Good communication and interpersonal skills

Career Development

Finding a location scouting job in a film production company is rarely a walk in the park. You may even begin in other roles as a volunteer or an underpaid worker. After developing some connections with producers and directors, and demonstrating your location scouting qualities, you can get the job.

You can then embark on advancing your career by:

Job Opportunities

The main employers of location scouts include:

  • Film production companies
  • Music production companies
  • Advertising agencies
  • Large photography studios
  • Media firms

After gaining vast scouting experience, you can be hired as a location manager. If you wish to move into production, you can do so by pursuing additional courses in film production.

Although the BLS doesn’t provide occupational outlook data for location scouts, it predicts some job growth in the TV and film industry due to increased demand for movies. Aspiring location scouts can, therefore, look forward to a promising future.

So if you have an eye for spotting ideal filming locations, then maybe this career can fit you.

Image source: Wyoming Film Office

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