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How to start Scriptwriting Part 3: The Locations

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Posted 31st May 2009 at 10:41 AM by Peter Neal

Okay, some might consider my following notion as "limiting" to their creativity, but in fact it usually gets my inner "writing machine" really going, as it fills me with a feeling of: "Yeah, this really could be pulled off!"

So, you want to write a script for a short movie or a full feature, but you're not exactly blessed with a bank account bursting with cash, then you have to take the following advice by heart before you're even writing your script synopsis:

MAKE THE SCRIPT'S LOCATIONS FIT THE CONDITIONS AT REACH- DON'T TRY TO MAKE THE LOCATIONS FIT YOUR SCRIPT!

What goes for the casting of your characters is even more true about the locations:

If you want to tell an apocalyptic tale, but can't afford to show New York (or any other city of your liking) getting blown up in 3D, you have to figure out a tale, which captures the feeling of doom and chaos in a much smaller everyday location, which is at your disposal!

Spend some time on thinking about suitable locations for a low budget feature, which could also provide some interesting visual images.
It's often the small details in an apartment etc, which make the difference in mood.

Think about sound on location:

Sure, if you can afford it, your film will be re-recorded afterwards, but if your location has interesting possibilities of original sound to offer, all for the better!

Personally, I find it so much more challenging and stimulating to think about making the most out of everyday locations at reach than just "to think big" in an unrealistic Hollywood-studio-movie kind of way.

Coming from a radio play background, where you can basically just write what you want, with no location/budget restrictions whatsoever, the visual importance of the right setting is really something which sticks out for me when distinguishing between competent and amateur low budget efforts.

You have an aunt, who's living in a slightly run-down old house? You know somebody who knows somebody, who's owning a bar/a supermarket etc?

Pitch them your idea, convince them to let you shoot at their place...

OR....

if writing is our primary goal...


....you should still think in budget-conscious terms when you're putting your package of ideas together before you send your script on its journey to the diverse production companies.

You just can't do any better than pairing an arresting concept with a reasonable affordable location/setting.

Alright, we should start to get that treatment going soon after all...
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