New York is a filmmaker’s dream. It teems with life and drama, and it’s filled with iconic landmarks, as well as untold numbers of apartments, homes, restaurants, churches, stores, offices, and so on — all with their own stories, all with their own unique appeal. Hello, NYC location scouting.
Most scripts contain dozens of locations. A location scout’s job is to read a script, to think about the script’s locations the way a director would, and then, using this mind-meld with the director, find the perfect locations for filming in the real world and secure them. A good location scout has a healthy sense of adventure, a director’s eye, and an almost indefatigable work ethic.
Location scouts get to work on a film before pretty much anybody else, and they stick with the film to the end. They’re there to help make things go smoothly on set and to help maintain good relationships with the owners of every filming location. Their reputations and their livelihood are very much reliant on keeping everyone happy. The job is definitely not for everyone, as you can see. But it should also be clear how useful a location scout is whenever your production budget allows it.
Of course, some of you are likely just starting out. Perhaps you’re not far out of film school and are completing a project on a slimmer budget. If this is the case, you may not be able to afford a full-time location scout in New York City. That’s why we’ve closed this guide with some useful websites for finding filming locations on your own.
Websites for finding NYC location scouts
For filmmakers looking to hire a location scout or manager in New York, we suggest you begin your search at the following websites.
Peerspace has thousands of production locations in New York City, at all different price points, making it easier than ever to scout and find locations in New York City yourself. Use this self-service platform to take the heavy lifting out of location scouting and make this process far less daunting (and expensive). Search through so many unique spaces and look at photos until you find the perfection location for your shoot. From there, book right on the platform either by the hour or by the day. Some Peerspace listings even allow you to rent equipment in addition to the space. The best part? You can use reviews from other photographers and filmmakers to understand the nuances of the space before your production begins.
Production hub awesome extensive background information on their location scouts, maintaining a list of location scouts in cities all over the world, with a list of just over 60 location scouts in New York.
Production Hub is a great place to kick off your research. You can get a good feel for each scout’s résumé and creative philosophy, and if you feel particularly simpatico, you can actually reach out to potential hires directly through the website.
New York Production Guide is a great all-around source for information relevant to producing films in New York. You can find location scouts, prop and animal managers, rental equipment, and even hire production crews. New York Production Guide’s list of location scouts in New York City contains the names and phone numbers of over 80 professionals. Their location scout bios don’t have as much professional background as Production Hub but are still an excellent resource to begin your search.
LA/NY 411 has a list of around 40 location scouts and managers in the NYC area. They’ve been a respected source for production expertise for more than 30 years. Again, their listings are not as information-rich as Production Hub’s, but they’re a great all-in-one source for researching everything and everyone you could need to make your film happen: location scouts, locations, production insurance, and more.
One thing you might notice when you begin looking at location scouts is that some of them have outdated websites. Therefore, you might find you get a much better sense of potential location scouts just for searching for them on social media. For example, search “Location Scout New York City Instagram,” and see what comes up. What you’ll likely find isn’t just static biographies with an index card’s worth of information — you’ll find the living, breathing person, which is so much more useful.
On Twitter you’ll get a nice mixture of insight into their work and insight into their character. And on Instagram, you’ll get a great idea of their aesthetic sense and how it jibes with your own. And finally, on LinkedIn, you can get an even better idea of their background. You can even find references to reach out to.
Do it yourself
If you don’t have all the time in the world, the simplest way to find locations these days, by far, is to begin online. Some great places to begin include:
LA/NY 411 has a fairly long list of shooting locations in and around New York City. Many of their locations interesting, salons, skyscrapers, museums, and airport terminals, and others are iconic All-American locations, like the New York Stock Exchange.
The second repeat on this list, New York Production Guide has, like LA/NY 411, a less extensive list of total locations than Peerspace. But the locations they do have are quite good. A stadium, the offices of famous creative agencies, a big public library, a castle, and so on.
Some other sites
Between these resources, you have thousands of unique locations at your fingertips. If you can’t find sites to fit every location in your script, it’s likely you’ll need to hire a location scout, or at least get out and pound the pavement yourself.
Location Scouting NYC doesn’t have to feel so overwhelming
New York may have a reputation as chew-you-up-and-spit-you-out, but it’s overstated. Therefore, don’t be afraid to build relationships with the people you meet along the way. New York doesn’t want to eat you up, it just wants you to be great. And greatness is almost always achieved through relationships. They save you time, they allow you to learn about yourself, to test and refine ideas with someone who gets you. As a creative person, you undoubtedly understand the value of these types of partnerships. With the right creative relationships, you can exceed even your own ambitions.