Preparing for a Location Scout

Up to this point, I’ve been wearing my ‘producer’ hat more than my ‘director’ hat. This will have to change while I’m on my upcoming location scout!

In the past, when I’ve been preparing to direct a play, I usually make a production binder (or prompt book). This may be left over from my days in stage management or my comfort with organization, but I’ve found that not only is the result of the binder helpful, but also the process of creating it. Ultimately, I end up taking this book to every meeting before and during rehearsals and also to every rehearsal. It basically becomes my Bible.

For a play, this book usually consists of the script, my research, my notes, design thoughts, images for costumes and design, schedules, character breakdowns, and finally actor information. While the process of directing a play is different from directing a film some steps of the process do overlap. For this binder I will still include the script, my research, my notes, design thoughts, and images for costumes and design, but also I will include a script breakdown, a budget, and location information.

I also decided to include a location breakdown. Since I’ll be seeing many locations on my scout (including exterior structures, interior options, exterior pathways, and courtyards) I realized that it would be helpful to have how many scenes will be shot at each location and what those scenes will consist of – all at my fingertips. So I cut the script up into individual scenes and glued each scene onto blank pieces of paper. I then arranged those pages in piles according to location. For example, there are three pathways scenes and they are all glued to the same piece of paper for my reference. That way when see a potential pathway location, I can look in my binder under “Locations / Pathways” and see which scene might fit that particular location – without having to leaf through the script to compare scenes.

I’ve made these binders for every single project I’ve directed. I already have a bookshelf full of them at home and I expect this collection to continue to grow!