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On Location

Serving the script or “creative”

Production work is highly mobile, and often uses many different locations throughout the project.  Access to a vehicle is recommended so that crew can commute to set to perform their work.

Location facts

Locations are used instead of studios

While each project is unique, many productions will use locations instead of building sets in a soundstage.   Filming on location means that all the crew, performers and equipment will be working in a neighbourhood, park or commercial business setting,  anywhere that the script calls for – and the imaginative team can transform.   

A filming location is any place where some or all of a production takes place, where actors are filmed and their dialogue is recorded. In some instances, filming occurs at a location but dialogue is not recorded, and this is called a “second unit photography site”. Learn about units on the Live Action Production page.

Locations need prep and wrap time

Locations can be a mountaintop, a city park, a local business, a landmark or on neighbourhood streets.  As most of the production unit will be moving from one location to the next, shooting on location requires a lot of preparation and logistics.  From securing the necessary permits and permissions to ensuring that locations are properly supported with notices to neighbours, street parking arrangements, noise bylaw compliance and proper prep, shoot and wrap processes, the locations department requires many people for smooth operations.  

Learn more at Creative BC’s Location Resources

Locations are a valuable resource

Physical locations are a fixed resource that requires careful management and respectful treatment. This is to avoid “location burnout”,  defined as the overuse of a) the physical look of the location and b) levels of film activity beyond the limits of communities accommodating the potentially disruptive nature of physical production filming.

From the crew to film liaisons and film commissions, everyone is responsible for effective locations stewardship, which maintains positive relationships and ensures that B.C. remains “film-friendly”.

Did you know?

  • Creative BC’s digital location library keeps over 500,000 location files, each filled with up to 100 images, current and up to date. The regional film commissions offer roughly another 500,000 files in the same database. Incoming productions can submit their script to Location Consultants who provide a script breakdown with sample locations that serve the script, or “creative”, demonstrating that British Columbia has the “World of looks” that production requires. A consistent labeling and tagging system for all of the images allows over 250 qualifying independent Locations professionals working below-the-line to use the database for their work.
  • Creative BC has developed location resources, policy and guidelines where you can learn all about shooting on location. 
  • “Locations” is one of the below-the-line department areas. People who work in this department manage logistics and make creative choices to serve the script. See what a Locations career is like in the Careers section of this site.

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