Photo provided by Benjamin Curtis-Beard, view from Honey Jam Records’s studio location.

Photo provided by Benjamin Curtis-Beard, view from Honey Jam Records’s studio location.

Location managers are great to have around to help you find and control locations, however on many shoots you’ll have to take location management into your own hands. Guerrilla filmmaking might be a tempting way to go, however it’ll keep you awake at night wondering if your shoot will fall through the next day. If you are willing to invest in a great camera and a rad crew, then it will pay off to make sure your location is safe n’ sound.

1. Old School Friends and Family Route

You might have already considered this, however, it is always worth double checking your personal resources as a low budget filmmaker. Is there anywhere you already have access to - like your own property? This may be the simplest option, and definitely the cheapest, however it really depends on your shoot and situation. Try getting in contact with a friend or family member who might be able to help you out. Remember to be honest and upfront about the filmmaking process and any potential risks. You want them to be prepared so you don’t ruin your relationship with them.

2. Online Location Rental

There are more location resources available online than you might’ve thought.  You’ll often get more unique and interesting locations through renting them. A reliable contract will give both you and the property owner better peace of mind - you can find a free location release form here. Be sure to be respectful and transparent, for example be clear about how much electricity you intend to use for lighting. If a property owner has a bad experience with your shoot, it will ruin it for all filmmakers who want to shoot there in the future. Airbnb is also a good option, many of the hosts are friendly to filmmakers as long as you are upfront about it. However, because it’s traditionally used for traveling, the hosts will expect you to follow tougher rules.

Several popular private location directories:

3. Get Some Help from the Illinois Film Office

The Illinois Film Office has a great location portfolio. They just recently digitized the database and is extremely accessible no matter where you are. Check out this link to get started on their website! The film office is also a great resource to have in general and you can contact them directly to ask for help. Chicago also has its own film office that you can call to ask questions as well!

Finding a location for your shoot will eliminate tons of unknowns and free up your mind for more important things. Be sure to be respectful of the location! If filmmakers maintain a good relationship with Chicago property owners then it will be easier for everyone to find awesome spots to shoot - especially new filmmakers!