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The Director's Chair Issue #81 – Dec. 9, 2007 (Location Scouting Tips)

Free Monthly Ezine for Film and Television Directors

December 9, 2007                  Scene 8 – Take 9

Published once a month.

Publisher: Peter D. Marshall
Email: mailto:pdm@actioncutprint.com
Web Site: http://www.actioncutprint.com


Dear Friend,

You are receiving The Director’s Chair because you (or
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PRIVACY STATEMENT: This Subscriber List is a private mailing
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1. Introduction
2. Internet Marketing for Filmmakers
3. The Director’s Chair Filmmakers Discussion Forum
4. Subscriber Shameless Self-Promotion
5. Subscriber Links of Interest
6. Story Commercials
7. The Art and Craft of the Director Audio Seminar
8. FEATURE ARTICLE – Location Scouting Tips
9. Write an Article for The Director’s Chair
10. Filmmaking News, Websites and Events
11. Filmmaking Workshops
12. Back Issues of The Director’s Chair
13. Subscribe & Unsubscribe Information
14. Copyright Information


Welcome to Issue #81 of The Director’s Chair (Dec. 9/07)


Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahamas,
Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina,
Botswana, Brazil, Bhutan, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, China,
Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican
Republic, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Faroe Islands, Finland,
France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland,
India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica,
Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Lebanon,
Liberia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico,
Monaco, Morocco, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand,
Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Portugal,
Puerto Rico, Romania, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia,
Serbia and Montenegro, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sri
Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Taiwan, Tanzania,
Thailand, Trinidad and Tabago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda,
United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States,
Uruguay, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yugoslavia, Zambia, Zimbabwe

NOTE: If your country is not represented here, please let me
know and I will add it to this ever growing list.

2) Due to my hectic work schedule, there was no November

3) FEATURE ARTICLE – This month’s Feature Article is called
“Location, Location, Location: Scouting Tips” by Scott
Spears. Just like in real estate, when you leave the studio
(if you were ever in one) one of the biggest factors to a
good shoot, is location, location, location.  (see below to
read article…)

From time to time I will contact you by email to inform you
of certain filmmaking workshops or film products that I feel
are beneficial to filmmakers like yourself. Of course, you
are under no obligation to purchase anything. I only offer
this information as a service to subscribers of this free

5) BLOG – Film Directing Tips and Resources Blog
Take a look at my Film Directing Blog and post some
filmmaking tips or add some resources. And please, make some
comments on the posts – your feedback is important to me
because they will help me decide on the content I will add
to this blog. http://filmdirectingtips.com/

6) SHARE THIS EZINE – Share this Ezine by email and forward
it to your friends and associates.

7) SUGGESTIONS & COMMENTS – Send any comments, suggestions,
questions or advice to: mailto:comments@actioncutprint.com

8) REPRINT THIS EZINE – This Ezine may be reprinted with
permission. Email me at: mailto:pdm@actioncutprint.com



Peter D. Marshall

2. Internet Marketing for Filmmakers

I’m designing a website for filmmakers on how to use
Internet Marketing techniques for promotion… BUT I need to
know what filmmakers like yourself want to know about using
the Internet (and especially social networking sites such as
Facebook, MySpace, Squidoo, YouTube etc.) for marketing and
promoting yourself or your films.

By participating in a quick survey of four questions, you
will help me decide on the content for my Internet Marketing
for Filmmakers website.

To help me out, could you please visit my Squidoo webpage at
http://www.squidoo.com/internetmarketingforfilmmakers and
participate in a quick poll of four questions.

1. Why do you want to know about Internet Marketing?
2. Do you have your own website or blog?
3. Which social networking website do you like the best?
4. Have you ever posted a Video or Demo Reel on YouTube?

Also, can I add you to my Internet Marketing mailing list?

This will enable me to contact only those subscribers who
are interested in using the internet (particularly Social
Networking Sites) for marketing and promotion.

If you want to find out more on how to use Internet
Marketing for promoting yourself or your films, click below
to get on my mailing list and to receive a free ebook called
“The Multi-Layered Mindset of Web 2.0 Marketing” describing
the evolution of Web 2.0. Click Here: mailto:imfm@aweber.com

3. The Director’s Chair Filmmakers Discussion Forum

The Director’s Chair Filmmakers Discussion Forum.

Ask film directing questions, submit your website for
review, post film and television directing links, share film
making tips and special events or just keep in touch with
other filmmakers from “The Director’s Chair.”

This forum is for subscribers of “The Director’s Chair”
only, so you will have to register in order to post
questions, give answers or add links. All you can do without
registering is read the posts.

NOTE: I have taken all the posts from the old discussion
forum and grouped them together under the category – Film
Production Questions (Questions and Answers from Old
Discussion Board)

Please visit this new forum now, sign up and take a look
around. http://www.actioncutprint.com/smf/index.php


Each month, I give two subscribers an opportunity to promote
themselves, their company or their productions in this
section. If you are interested, send your “shameless
self-promotion” to: mailto:pdm@actioncutprint.com.

Please limit your promotion to less than 200 words. I also
reserve the right to edit the promotion for length, spelling
and formatting.

1) David McElroy – For the last few years, I’ve been
directing spec commercials.  I’m about to finish my eighth
spot next weekend, which will go up on my website along with
everything else.  I’m going to start looking for
representation shortly thereafter.  I also just completed my
first script (suspense/horror), which has got me a few
meetings with some big-time Producers.  Already raised $60K
for it.  My website is: http://www.MethodicalProductions.com
if anyone cares to check out my work.  Cheers, David

2) Ken French – I am the Event Director for The Indie Short
Film Competition. The Indie Short Film Competition is the
most innovative international short film and video
competition for independent filmmakers worldwide. The
competition aims to create opportunities for filmmakers by
bringing support and recognition to creatively talented
indie filmmakers from around the world. The competition is a
great opportunity for filmmakers to advance their career,
gain recognition and receive international exposure in the
filmmaking industry. The competition is sponsored by Sony
Creative Software, MovieCockpit, MovieMaker Magazine,
Partners In Rhyme, Glidecam, Blackmagic Design,
ProductionHUB.com and United One Productions.

Entrants stand a chance to win over $20,000 in cash and
prizes. Short films and videos may be entered in 10
different categories (Comedy, Horror / Thriller,
Documentary, Music Videos, etc.). Filmmakers may enter as
many short films as they wish. Submissions accepted now
through November 30, 2007.

The competition’s international panel of top industry judges
include representatives from American World Pictures, Big
film Shorts, Clarity Pictures, A Band Apart Productions,
Worldwide Film Entertainment and more! (see
www.indieshortfilms.net for complete list of judges).

For more information, entry form and rules visit the
competition website at http://www.IndieShortFilms.net


“Subscriber Links of Interest” is where you can further
promote yourself, your company or your productions by having
your information displayed on a special links page at:

If you are a subscriber to this ezine and you want me to put
your self-promotion on this page, just send an email to:

Again, I also reserve the right to edit the promotion for
length and formatting.


Telling a story in 30 or 60 seconds is a very creative
process. Not only are commercial filmmakers trying to sell
you a product or service, but they are doing it an a way
that resonates with the viewer by tugging on their emotions
or funny bones.

I have created this section so you can send me your links to
commercials that you feel tell a story in a creative way.

This first one was submitted by CUCUBANO FILMS.

This commercial won a Gold Lion under the film category in
the 54th edition of the Cannes International Advertising
Awards.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6IjUkNmUcHc

7. The Art and Craft of the Director Audio Seminar

Filmmaking is a universal language, and no matter where we
live in the world, we all have our own stories to tell.

If you have a story that has UNIVERSAL THEMES, and you have
the PASSION to tell this story, you CAN make a movie, in
your own language, and audiences around the world WILL watch

“The Art and Craft of the Director Audio Seminar” is a
comprehensive, 10-day program of discovering what it takes
to be a successful, working film and television director.

I talk a lot about PASSION and TRUTH in this 10 day course
because these are two of the essential ingredients to having
a successful directing career.

I am very proud of this audio course and I guarantee that
anyone who listens to the entire 10 days will discover many
of the tools a working film director needs to survive today.

All the information about the 10 Day “The Art and Craft of
the Director Audio Seminar,” including the content list,
audio files, support materials, free bonuses and how to
order, is available now. Just click on the link below.

8. FEATURE ARTICLE – Location Scouting Tips

“Location, Location, Location: Scouting Tips” by Scott Spears

Just like in real estate, when you leave the studio (if you
were ever in one) one of the biggest factors to a good
shoot, is location, location, location. I’ve been on many a
location scout and have seen some great location and so not
so great locations. One of the biggest things when seeing
what looks like a great location is you have to think will
it work logistically. The factors to locations are cost,
sound issues, power and logistics. We’ll break those down in
a minute.

First, who should be on the location scout? As many crew
people as possible, but it’s not feasible to take the entire
crew to each location (unless you have a small crew), so you
need to pick department heads, the director,
cinematographer, 1st assistant director, art director, sound
mixer and production/location manager. I like to bring my
gaffer if possible. These people all look at locations in
different ways and will have different and valuable input.
When all these people aren’t there, then somebody on the
scout should be looking out for them. Sometimes when it’s
just me and the director out scouting, we both have to wear
different production hats and not just consider picture


This is the easy one, either can afford the location or you
can’t. A good producer might be able to wheel and deal a
better price. Sometimes you have to use some imagination
with a place that doesn’t quite work, but is affordable.
This is where the director has to envision the shots he will
need. There’s a famous story from Akira Kurosawa when he was
asked how he achieved a “perfect” frame for a period film he
directed and he said, if I had panned to the right there was
a modern factory and if I panned to the left, there were
power lines, so the frame was set. I’ve been on scouts where
people have said the location wouldn’t work because of some
factor, but after talking with the director, we realized
that element would never be on camera.


Here’s a line I like to use on sound mixers (please sound
folks, don’t take a offense, I’m joking), “they’re called
motion pictures, not motion sounds.” It usually gets the
riled up, but seriously, you have to not just look at a
location, you have to listen to it. Is it on a street with
heavy traffic? Is there construction nearby or the potential
of it? Is it in the path of an airport? Do a bunch of
college party kids live next door who will throw the world’s
biggest, noisy-est party ever in the middle of your intimate
drama? If it’s a multi-story building, who lives upstairs?
Somebody who stomps around in combat boots? There are
hundreds of noise factors that can slow or grind your
production to a halt, so be on the lookout.

If you start to like a location and think it will be high on
your list, take a moment and stand silently. Listen for hums
and buzzes. Find out if they can be eliminated. You should
visit it again at a different time of day to make sure there
isn’t some factor that changes. Say you visit an apartment
that looks perfect in the morning, but it sits above a bar
that at night cranks up the music, well that would be a
sound killer. Some smaller airports cut back on night
flights, but during the day your location will have a flight
overhead every two minute. In general, try to think when
you’ll be shooting and seek out any sound factor which would
slow or halt shooting. Sometimes these things can come out
of nowhere and cannot be predicted, but you should do your

(Here’s a side note: Refrigerators are the bane of sound
mixer’s life, humming back to life in the middle of takes
thus ruining the sound, so the solution is to turn them off
during the shoot, but often times they don’t get turned back
on after the shoot and the production gets a bill to replace
the spoiled contents. Here’s a clever way to avoid that:
somebody is assigned be the last person to leave the
location, be that the A.D., location manager or a PA, they
should put their car keys in the fridge, that way when they
go to their car to leave and pat their pockets for the keys
they will remember they put them the fridge for a reason and
will have to return to the fridge and will remember to turn
it back on. This was taught to me by a wise Assistant
Director. I love tricks like this.)


A nightmare for gaffers is lack of power. If you need a
shaft of sunlight pouring through a window that is created
by lighting, not the sun, and production can’t afford a
generator, then you need lots of power. Older buildings
should be given special inspections. I’ve shot in apartments
that had only two twenty amp circuits which means if you
plug in more than four lights, you’re going to start blowing
breakers. We ended up borrowing power from an apartment two
stories above and just dropped cables out the window to feed
our lights. Not ideal, but it worked. Does the place have
plenty of outlets? Where are the circuit breakers? You
should know where they are so if you blow a breaker you can
get at it to reset it. I’ve had hour-long production delays
because a fuse box was locked in a closet and nobody could
find a janitor to open it. Get to know whoever’s in charge
of the keys to all the doors in a building and make them
your best friend.

(Another side note: Here’s the Scott Spears lazy man math
formula for calculating power needs for lights. Say you want
to use three 1000 watts lights (1Ks for short) and a 500
watt light. You take the watts and add them up which makes
3500 watts, then you divide that by 100 (I know it should be
110, but that’s why I call it a lazy man formula) and that
will give you the amps you’ll need, which in this case will
be 35 amps. Most houses have 20 amp breakers, so you’ll need
at two dedicated breakers for your lights. Total watts/100=
amps needed. 3500/100=35)


Locations bring there own set of logistics, just like
people. There are a lot of things you don’t think about as
you walk around a cool location lining up shots and thinking
how you’ll use the space, but there’s a lot more to a
location than that.

Where the heck are the cast, crew and equipment vehicles
going to park? A film production takes up a lot of space so
there better be parking. How do you get all the gear to the
location? Are there elevators or is the crew going have to
drag a ton of equipment up four flights of stairs? Exterior
locations have these same concerns. I’ve had to hike about a
mile uphill for a shoot with gear on my back and in each
hand which ain’t fun, but you gotta do what you gotta do. Do
that six times to start and end your day and you’ll think
twice about that location.

Don’t forget about changing rooms for cast and a make-up
area. Here’s a biggie, are there enough bathrooms? Nothing
can get you booted from a location faster than to have 30
people trying to use one bathroom and to have the toilet

Now you and your stuff are on set, but where do you put
people and extra gear when they’re not working? All the
grips and cast not on camera need someplace to hang out
while shooting is underway.

Do you have a place for the cast and crew to eat? Is there a
large space so everybody sit together and eat? That’s a
great way to build camaraderie (as long as the food is good,
but that’s a whole other topic.) If you don’t feed people on
site, are there restaurants nearby. Be careful letting cast
and crew loose upon the world because they’ll all come
staggering in a few minutes late with the excuse that the
waiters were slow or some other problem.

Some locations have special requirements, like no shoes,
cover the floors or be out at a certain time. Make sure
everybody respects these rules or you may be looking for a
new place. If a location throws on too many restrictions off
the bat, you may want to look elsewhere because once you’re
there, life may get even worse with more rules and
complaints about even minor infractions.


Everybody hates paperwork, but make sure to release forms
signed well ahead of the time to shoot at your great new
location. If you wait until the last minute, like when you
have all your crew standing outside waiting to get to work,
then the owner my find some “unknown” reason for jacking up
he price, otherwise known as they’ve got you over the
barrel. Have proper forms and photo releases for the


I’ll close by saying my rule is to try to leave a location
better than I found it. Don’t leave a mess because
eventually that reputation will catch up to you and you’ll
start getting locked out of places.

Scott Spears is an Emmy Award winning Director of
Photography with 14 features under his belt. He’s also
written several feature screenplays, some of which have been
made into movies. You can learn more about him at

9. Want to Write an Article for The Director’s Chair?

If you would like to contribute articles, tips, links of
interest, industry news, interviews, special event dates or
other resources to The Director’s Chair, please email me at:

10. Filmmaking News, Websites and Events

1) http://www.your-insider.com/

My name is Michael Ferris, and I wanted to write you about
my new website because I think the members of yours would
greatly benefit from my service.

What are my services? It’s not a competition, festival, or a
contest – as I think 95% of them don’t benefit filmmakers
and aren’t worth the money. I should know, as I used to
judge for one of the biggest, Scriptapalooza.

Essentially what I’m doing is making myself a direct conduit
between the average filmmaker and agents, managers, and
studio executives in Hollywood.

It’s a revolutionary new idea that cuts out all the
unnecessary middlemen, and gets talented peoples’ work
directly into the hands that can make their film career

So far, I’ve helped two film school students either get
their screenplays sold (Travis Beacham’s “Killing on
Carnival Row”, which is now New Line’s 2009 tentpole pic
with Neil Jordan directing) or optioned (Mike Martin’s
“S.P.E.C.T.E.R.”). This was what inspired me to start my
website – so that I could help many more like them.

If you would be kind enough to post about me and my services
– I’ll be more than happy to share my 400+ page
screenwriting ebook, for free, to every person who emails me
from your site. It’s gotten great reviews, and is chock full
of screenwriting tips, tricks, and secrets.

Michael Ferris



’60 Seconds of Fame’ is back. This exciting and innovative
short film challenge was launched by BAFTA and Orange in
2006, and attracted more than 250 entries. This year,
aspiring filmmakers are invited to submit a 60 second short
film, based on the theme ‘unite’. The winning film will be
featured on the BBC One broadcast of the Film Awards,
watched by millions around the world.

BAFTA juries will choose the shortlisted films in each of 15
UK regions and the public will vote for their favourite film
in their area. The winner from each region will win two
tickets to the Orange British Academy Film Awards on Sunday
10 February, 2008. The overall winner, chosen by a BAFTA
jury, will be announced at the ceremony.

The purpose of ’60 Seconds of Fame’ is to support
creativity and to actively encourage the public to
participate in the filmmaking process. The 60 Seconds of
Fame site at http://www.orange.co.uk/bafta provides the tools and
technical guidance. Anybody aged 16 and over can enter and
the deadline for entries is 5pm on 4 January 2008.

Last year’s winner of  ’60 Seconds of Fame’  was Alex
Garcia, for his short film ‘Happy Birthday Grandad’ based on
the theme ‘celebrate’. His win was announced by Ken Russell
and Mark Kermode. Alex comments: “Winning ‘60 Seconds of
Fame’ has opened up many doors but, most importantly, opened
our eyes to what awaits us if we work hard.”

For full details of ’60 Seconds of Fame’, please visit

11. FILMMAKING WORKSHOPS – Peter D. Marshall

I have worked in the Film and Television Industry for over
33 years – as a Film Director, Television Producer, First
Assistant Director and Series Creative Consultant. I’ve been
asked many times to share my Film and TV production
knowledge with others. As a result, I developed several
workshops that I have successfully presented over the past
15 years.

To find out more about these workshops, just click on the
link below. If you are interested in any of these four
workshops for yourself or your organization, please contact
me to discuss how we can bring these workshops to you.


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Peter D. Marshall
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