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Some films with a lot of money or very specific needs will build an entire set. This is how all the major soaps are made, as they need access to their sets practically 24/7. Low budget and shorter projects tend to look for a location which they can temporarily turn into a set.

'Set' is a term used for where the action takes place. 'Location' refers to the building, park, land or even vehicle which will hold the set

Once you have identified your location it is almost inevitable that it will belong to someone else and you must seek permission to film there.

It is essential to be completely honest with yourself and the owner about how much time you will really need - even if it's just your friend's sitting room or garden or the local supermarket car park.

  • Do you need access to dress the set - is this going to take hours or days?
  • It might be a 6am start to allow for bringing in cameras, lights and sound kit and rehearsing with the actors just to get everything done and be packed up and away by 6pm.
  • Maybe it will have to be two half days and you will want to leave it dressed overnight (which might be inconvenient for the owner.
  • Or maybe the house (or classroom) is perfect the way it is and you only need to have your actor filmed looking out the window and then walking out the door.

It is usually better to ask for a bit more time and exaggerate slightly the level of disruption, so in the end, the owner thinks you've actually finished early and been ever so quiet.

Don't burn too many bridges with your first production, especially with the janitor, you never know when you might want to cross back

It goes without saying that you should leave your location in better shape than you found it, and, if you are using it for free, a bunch of flowers or even just a 'thank-you' card for the owner leaves a good impression. You never know when you may return to this location - and if there is a problem with your rushes - it may be sooner than you think!


  • A place for actors to change or put on make up
  • A toilet that all the cast and crew can use
  • Somewhere warm and dry to have lunch
  • A mirror
A local church hall can be useful as a base - they usually don't charge too much. And have much of what you need


If your film is not based in one place, how are young people going to get from A to B? Do you need transport? If so, does the driver have the relevant permissions to drive young people?

Click through for more details about choosing and dressing locations.