Location Scout

Dec 1, 1999
Outside Magazine

The Work: Hollywood schmoozing meets the great outdoors. As a contractor for film studios or ad firms, you're on the prowl for the right locale. Producers give you scripts, storyboards, or vague verbal cues that send you bushwhacking through New Hampshire forests, canoeing Louisiana swamps, or riding rangeland in Arizona. You'll also oversee contracts between the location's owner and the production company.

Time Outside: 85 percent.

Payback: About $350 a day, plus expenses. At their busiest, scouts work six days a week, nine months of the year.

Prerequisites: No degree, but a knack for documentary-style photography (your images sell the location), a grasp of basic contract law, and enough familiarity with your region to handle requests such as "Find me a place where Cajuns dance."

Networking: With only about 300 people in the biz, referrals will get you as much work as an ad in Variety. Serve as an assistant to an established scout; then let your local film commission know you're available.

Peon to Pro: Five years from apprentice to free agent. Gauge success by the star-quality of your clients: If you're still scouting for Crazy Wally's Used Car Madhouse ads, try harder.

Drudge Factor: Road time. Los Angeles-based scout Jof Hanwright logs 30,000 miles a year behind the wheel.

Outlook: Get tech savvy: More producers are finding locations in online catalogs (just click on "mansion" and go to "creepy"), so the location scout of the near future will be less of a wanderer and more of Web designer.

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