Video Production 101: Where Should I Shoot My Video?

You’ve written your script. You’ve scouted the perfect actors. You know your video goals and you’ve outlined your video distribution plan. Everything is basically ready to go for your next video shoot – except the location. Figuring out where to shoot should be easy, though, right?

Well, not necessarily…

If you know how complicated the video production process is, you know looking for the right location comes with its own unique set of challenges.

But don’t worry – here at Lemonlight, we’ve produced over 5,000 videos for companies just like yours, meaning we’ve also booked probably 20,000 locations or more, including office spaces, public streets, apartments, studios, you name it!

That means we know a thing or two about how to do it right. And we’re sharing that knowledge with you, so you can be prepared when your next shoot rolls around.

Breaking Down the Top 5 Video Shoot Locations

First things first. Your location(s) will depend very heavily on the type of video you’re creating. If you’re filming a customer’s product testimonial, for instance, booking a location will likely be pretty easy. You might film that person at their home or in their office using your product, and shoot an interview somewhere in that same space. On the other hand, if you’re filming a complex commercial, you might have to film in numerous locations over the course of numerous days, including outdoors, indoors, in a studio, and more.

Whatever the case, keep these notes handy to help make the entire process much easier.

Shooting a brand or recruitment video for your company? Chances are high you’ll want to make your office your primary shooting location. This is the easiest and safest place to shoot and provides plenty of opportunity for natural b-roll, complete control of visuals and sound, and a great backdrop for interviews. Your office will have its own ambience – just make sure to let anyone who may be filmed in the background or foreground know ahead of time.

Because you already work there, you may not need any special permissions to film (if you rent your office space, you may want to check with your property manager or lease agreement.) If you own the building where you work, even better! You shouldn’t need anything else.

If you’re planning on booking another office space for filming, talk to that office manager for more information. Some office spaces rent themselves out especially for production, and will charge you a daily rate for filming.

Yes, those quotation marks do belong there! Filming at “home” could mean a number of things – it could mean filming in someone’s actual house or apartment, it could mean using the house or apartment of a friend or family member and faking it as one’s own, or it could mean renting a home or apartment altogether.

Again, if you’re booking a home location that you own or rent yourself, you have all the permissions you need. Same goes for using a home location of a friend or family member – as long as they’re OK with it, you’re golden.

Options for filming outdoors are almost unlimited, making it more complicated to figure out what’s allowed and what isn’t. There are no typical rules to follow – both public and private outdoor spaces can require filming permits and sometimes even payment. Get informed and figure out what your local law says about the location you plan on using. Public parks, for instance, can require a permit to film, while sidewalk filming might require permission from adjacent businesses. Sometimes, you can film freely with no permits or special permissions. Do your research!

You’ll also want to keep a eye out for other issues – film in front of a public mural, for instance, and you’ll need permission from the artist to use their work.

In most cases, though, filming outdoors shouldn’t be too difficult. If you’re focusing on a product, like how a bike handles sharp turns or how a dog leash easily attaches to your dog’s collar, your location won’t be as critical as the product you’re focusing on. But if your location is critical to the story you’re telling, like how your faux-grass handles different weather conditions and pedestrian elements, you may have to work a little harder to find an outdoor location that works for you.

Filming at a specific location, like a restaurant, retail store, warehouse, or clinic is perfect for developing your video’s message. If you’re the first dentist to perform a particular treatment, you’ll want footage of yourself at your clinic treating patients. If you’re an organic meal-kit provider, show how your kits come together, from farm to warehouse to doorstep. These locations add color and context to your video, so don’t be afraid to use them to your advantage.

Permissions here will be pretty straightforward. The location’s owner or manager should give you the go-ahead to film – hopefully that’s easy to get if this is the company you work for! Again, make sure everyone on-site knows you’ll be filming. Provide a call sheet if possible, so everyone knows exactly the areas and times of filming.

Studios are probably your easiest location to get on the books – yes, renting a studio can be expensive, but the process is relatively simple. Depending on the size of the location you need, renting a studio can cost anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars on a per-day or per-hour agreement. Pricing also depends on whether you need a simple backdrop or a full studio set.

Studio rentals are perfect for filming close-ups, product shots, how-to tutorials, and more – but you’re honestly better off filming these shots for yourself. You can create a simple backdrop with solid-colored board, set up a couple of lights, and you’ve got the same thing you can get at a studio for a fraction of the price and your viewers won’t know the difference.

They do help you do one thing really well, though: focus 100 percent on your main subject. Without a busy environment in your background, all your attention is focused on the product or person, which should be the goal of your video.

9 Quick Tips for Location Filming

Don’t let filming be any more complicated than it already is. Follow these quick tips to make your shoot efficient and fun for your entire cast and crew.

  • Budget roughly about $500 per day for your locations (some, like friends’ apartments or on-site filming are usually free.)
  • Be aware of noise. Certain locations are inherently noisy, like public streets and parks.
  • Anticipate weather restrictions. Rain or storms can ruin outdoor shoots and damage your equipment.
  • Take or find photos of your locations before booking them. Photos will give you a good idea of the location and help you better plan your filming.
  • Don’t forget parking. Scout every location for easy and convenient parking, so you’re not lugging thousands of dollars in equipment for miles.
  • Film as much as you can. If you can film multiple shots in a single location, do it! It’ll save you money and give you more footage options to work with.
  • Always communicate with property owners and managers. Let them know about any changes and keep them updated no matter what.
  • Scout on social media. Great for finding talent and crew, social media can also provide a wealth of information about locations.
  • Always ask permission. Don’t start filming unless you know you’ve followed permitting rules. The last thing you want is to be kicked out mid-shoot.

If you’re ready to get started, consider hiring a company like Lemonlight to handle all your production needs. We can take care of the entire process, so you don’t stress about equipment, actors, locations, and more.

Or start location scouting for yourself! If you need any help, we can also provide tips and tricks to help you do the best job you can. Give us a call and see how we can help.

Laura Cueva

Laura Cueva