locations Securing a difficult location

shimabuku

Member
Hey everyone~
I'm looking to make a series of films inside a gas station. So far securing a location has been difficult. Does anyone have any advice how to approach places like these? I'm starting with a 2 day shoot. All filmed at night. My hometown Las Vegas, NV. I really don't want to pay but if it's reasonable we'll see.

It's a teaser that my proudction will use to get a grant from the city to hopefully make the series happen.
 

directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
It's one hell of a challenge getting a business for 2 days without paying.
But it can be done. Does it need to be closed during your shoot? Then
(obviously) you need to find a station that closes; is that even possible
in Las Vegas?

So the chances are you're going to be shooting while the station is open
and doing business. So first you have have to assure the owner that while
you will shooting when there are customers you will never get in the way
of their business. Tell the owner exactly how many people will be there,
exactly how many hours you would like to be there, exactly what will be seen
on camera and exactly what equipment you will have and where it will be staged.

Are you going to need to use the stations power? Tell them.
Will your crew use the bathrooms? Tell them.

Remember as you speak to the owner that they will be doing YOU a big favor
and make sure they know you are willing to work around their requirements.
Offer to buy drinks and sodas and snacks from them. Keep in mind they are
not very interested in what you are going to use the scene for; they are interested
in how your shoot will affect their business.

Ping Scoopicman; he's a regular here and lives in the Vegas area.
 

indietalk

IndieTalk Founder
Staff member
Admin
What do you mean by inside a gas station? They all look different. A convenience store? Cars on a lift? A rest stop/restaurant look? This will help.
 

sfoster

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Even if you can avoid paying a rental fee, I think you'll have to get liability insurance.
I've never found a location (other than friends/family) that would let me shoot without it.
I found a frozen yogurt place that offered to let me use their establishment in the morning before they opened for free and without insurance.
But the owner worked in the store and I was in there literally every day for like 6 months straight so he knew me by that point.

So maybe if they regard you as their #1 customer lol.
Gas stations are usually open really late so this is really tough.

How did kevin smith swing it for clerks ?
 
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directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
Smith worked at "Quick Stop". He shot after it closed and before it opened.
About 7 hours each day.

Yep, it can be done. I forgot about insurance; when you approach the owner,
shimabuku, it might be wise to have insurance already set up. Show the station
owner you're serious. Check Film Emporium - they advertise here a lot and I've
used them.

I've gotten movie theaters, restaurants, bars and even a section of a small airport
for free or very low cost - often just paying someone from the venue to "babysit"
the location.
 

onebaldman

Pro Member
indiePRO
From my last two films, both pretty much free (I still paid some money for upkeep or utilities)... It is the idea that gets people interested.

If you share your idea around, and keep asking, eventually you might find someone. Adding persistence on top of everything said above, you should eventually get your location you want.

When people offer things for free, it is always because they are in love with the setting/theme/idea of the film.
 

directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
What, exactly, needs to be seen?
I'm confused...

How does this address the question about how to secure a difficult location?
When people offer things for free, it is always because they are in love with the setting/theme/idea of the film.
That's not my experience. The owner of a location isn't in love with anything
about the film I'm making. They end up helping because they believe I will be
respectful to their location. I wouldn't count on a gas station owner in Las
Vegas to fall in love with the theme/idea of the project.

In either of your two films did you get the use of a difficult location because
the owner fell in love with your setting/theme/idea?
 
Generally speaking, I've always approached the "mom/pop" businesses and have had great results. If the owners works there, they can keep an eye on you, and in most cases "watch" the fun process of shooting a movie. I've shot in a gas station, hardware store, grocery store, and small airport....all very small. Nobody asked me about insurance. I paid each location $100 in cash. So in your case, you might try "Johnny's Quik Stop Gas" as opposed to a SHELL sstation... Would an oil change place work? They have lifts, tools, etc?
 

jax_rox

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
How does this address the question about how to secure a difficult location?
Depending on what needs to be seen, it may be possible to cheat at least part of the scene for a different, easier to get, location. That means you’re not disturbing the gas station for anywhere near as long, making it ultimately easier to secure.

For example, if you’re having trouble securing a gas station because you can’t find one that closes for the night, you may be able to find a convenience store that does close to shoot the majority of the scene, leaving you with only a few shots to pick up at an actual gas station - being there for one to two hours may be a much easier sell than an 8-10 hour+ day, or even two 5 hour days.

Of course, it depends greatly on specifically what needs to be seen. Some scripts will be better suited to doing this.

In my experience, using locations where you have to get out of the way of customers can slow the whole thing right down. That doesn’t at all mean don’t use it, but be prepared for it especially if your timings on how long you need the location are based on uninterrupted usage.
 
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indietalk

IndieTalk Founder
Staff member
Admin
I agree the more we know the more we can help. When I needed a real jail cell (holding cell) I was able to use one in a court house that turned into a museum. But if I simply asked how to use a police station the answers would be different.
 
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onebaldman

Pro Member
indiePRO
In either of your two films did you get the use of a difficult location because
the owner fell in love with your setting/theme/idea?
Yes, that's why I shared the thought. Everyone has different experiences. How can a business owner know you as a person unless they work with you a couple of days/weeks/years?

The first location was my boss. Freely given because she loved my drive and personality. I get what you mean there.
Second location was found by posting a crew call on Facebook. She was a lurker, and interested in film-making. I shared the film script, and told her my plan. She offered the location free of charge.

Sometimes, all you need is a fun or good idea, with the attitude to back it up.
 

directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
I must have completely misread shimabuku's post.

I read it as a request for advice on how to approach a business owner
in order to use their place as a filming location. Not how to cheat an
existing location to look like a gas station.

Sorry about that.
 

onebaldman

Pro Member
indiePRO
I must have completely misread shimabuku's post.

I read it as a request for advice on how to approach a business owner
in order to use their place as a filming location. Not how to cheat an
existing location to look like a gas station.

Sorry about that.
Either way, the advice is all here, and all credible. All they have to do is try it out.
 
Was it on this site that someone recounted their location nightmare that turned out for the better? The art-gallery that was suddenly rendered unavailable and the scene had to be re-written to take place in a hair salon at short notice. If a night-time gas station is proving to be beyond reach, perhaps it's time for some communal brainstorming?
 

onebaldman

Pro Member
indiePRO
Was it on this site that someone recounted their location nightmare that turned out for the better? The art-gallery that was suddenly rendered unavailable and the scene had to be re-written to take place in a hair salon at short notice. If a night-time gas station is proving to be beyond reach, perhaps it's time for some communal brainstorming?
I remember that being mentioned somewhere. Every "business" I went to wanted at least $4-5k per day for the space. No way am I pulling that off as a low-micro budget. Posted the request on my local filmmaker Facebook pages, boom. Had two free offers for a month of time.
 

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