No matter the size of the production or its team, finding the perfect setting doesn’t happen in an echo chamber. Budget, aesthetics, permitting, atmosphere, liabilities, and transportation only kick off the lengthy list of considerations often necessary for location scouting and management. Skip the headache and never miss a beat with a simple, collaborative, and customizable tool that requires just a few minutes to set up and less time to learn.
Why you need a location gallery
It really doesn’t matter if you manage a handful of production assistants when scouting locations or need to collaborate with at least the director, cinematographer, and production designer on visual style. The time-saving benefits of a well-organized, collaborative library of locations make a huge difference, but you barely gain anything from such a setup without one essential element: visuals.
Speaking of which, let’s take a look at a couple visual aids.
Here you have a traditional spreadsheet. It organizes the location data well enough, but what about the visuals? Data matters, but visual information takes precedence when the whole team gets involved. You might rule out a location due to shooting hours and budget, but you’ll definitely rule one out if it doesn’t look right. You just don’t benefit much from rows of text. A gallery makes more sense.
To put together a collaborative location gallery for scouting and management, you need a tool like Airtable.
In Airtable, you can add photos of each location and create a gallery view to see everything at a glance. Users on Pro plans can add color-coding for visual status updates right beside the name. The cards in the above example can be changed to display whatever information you prefer. If you double-click on any record, you’ve got every bit of information and a comment thread from the team all in one, organized panel.
But rather than just look at it, use it: the location gallery above, complete with actual information, was used when scouting for a restaurant for a short film called The Test.
A small film with a small budget found an affordable location quickly with well-organized information. With larger productions, however, these benefits multiply significantly. After all, you have more information, people, and information to manage and organize. Airtable can help with those jobs, too.
Simple scouting submissions
Whether you’re on your own, splitting up the work, or sending production assistants to scout locations, you need to gather images and information to share with the rest of the team. Grab the Airtable smartphone app and you can do this all in real time.
Whoever visits the location can snap photos with their smartphone, jump into the Airtable app, and upload the images directly to the locations base. The moment they do, everyone else will have immediate access. You can even set up notifications if you wish.
Location scouts can add additional information on the fly, too, just as any team member can. And, of course, everyone can have an opinion.
Effortless production-wide collaboration
Airtable allows for a very collaborative workflow. Even if most of the work comes from the crew responsible for locations, that work can come to a grinding halt without opinions from at least the director—if not the cinematographer, production designer, and sometimes others. Viewing any record in the locations base provides access to a detailed comment thread where everyone can view changes, conversations surrounding any location, and ping members of the team for their input to avoid those dreaded intervals of “hurry up and wait.”
If you have a large team to work with, you can also add a collaborator field to the example base to assign specific locations (and their respective duties) to any member(s) of the team.
Regardless of the specifics, you don’t need much to whip up a robust structure to create a visual, time-saving, and collaborative location management system in less time than it took to read this article. In fact, just copy the example base to your Airtable account and you can get started immediately.