Movies like Top Gun, Anchorman, Almost Famous, and Citizen Kane are just several features that were filmed in San Diego. In addition, innumerable TV series, commercial spots, and music videos have come to life in this city. While San Diego is most well-known for its miles of breathtaking shoreline, it boasts diverse landscapes and locations. There are towering mountains and sprawling deserts among its outdoor locations, and residential architecture spanning countless styles and decades.
In regard to creative productions, sifting through the near-endless possibilities is tough enough, but there’s so much more to do beyond that. You’ve got to line up permits and licenses, negotiate fees with property owners, and coordinate equipment arrival — to name a few. That’s where a location scout comes into play. And if you find a location scout in San Diego — someone who’s lived and worked there for years — you’ll be even better off. We’ve put together a handy guide to help you find filming locations yourself, as well as a list of reliable location scouts in San Diego.
Start with Peerspace
Peerspace allows you to be your own location scout. As the largest online marketplace for event and production spaces, Peerspace features stylish urban dwellings, beachside surf shacks, green screen studios, and industrial warehouses — all in San Diego.
Booking spaces the traditional way requires sufficient advanced notice, a rate negotiation, coordination with property owners, and other hassles, but with Peerspace you can browse locations through the site and book a venue directly from a host. It’s an effortless resource to use to knock a critically important item off of your pre-production to-do list.
Check out ProductionHub as well
No matter what city you’re filming in, you should head on over to ProductionHub. The site provides a database of film industry personnel that spans the entire country. This includes cameramen, vendors, and, of course, location scouts.
A few specific scouts we can recommend
Pacific Location Search represents hundreds of commercial and residential locations for use with any size production. Their site provides an extensive gallery, and it can be searched by category and location features, such as buildings with ocean views or houses with pools. Their locations are not limited to San Diego, so if you want to expand your search to other nearby cities in California, you’ll have even more options.
San Diego Locations is the brainchild of Heather Salter and Lisa Rothmuller, both veteran location scouts in the San Diego area. They’ve worked on everything from low-budget commercials to blockbuster feature films, so there’s no challenge you can throw at them that they can’t handle.
Reference the California Film Commission and San Diego Film Office
The California Film Commission maintains a database of filming locations. Locally, the San Diego Film Office is also standing by to help you get your production up and running. In addition to assisting you with the specific task of location scouting, both of these organizations provide information so you can easily navigate the confusing world of licenses and permits. In addition, they can connect you with all manner of useful personnel. In general, state and city film commissions will have significant incentive programs for productions based in their locale, and they may also have information about grants or other funding sources.
The San Diego Film Office maintains its own Reel-Scout location gallery, similar to that of many other big cities. These include both private and public spaces.
IMDB Pro gives you a personnel-finding advantage
IMDB Pro allows you to look up all the personnel involved in virtually any San Diego production, which makes it easy to track down active location scouts in the area. That’s a steal at about $150 a year. Another great thing about it is that as you look through the information for multiple productions, you’ll start to see the same names pop up again and again. This will give you some idea of the local production scene. Often, it’s a smaller world than you’d expect, so when you find your location scout, they may also be able to suggest reliable crew members that they’ve worked with multiple times.
LocationsHub is another fantastic resource
LocationsHub is a searchable database of production-ready locations that span the entire world. That’s a lot of locations. Using this resource will allow you to get contact information from venues, although you can’t schedule and book directly on the site. LocationsHub is run by Reel-Scout, as is the San Diego Film Office’s searchable database and that of the California Film Commission, so expect a ton of overlap. That said, it’s still a great site for any professional to use.
Put social media to work for you
Freelancers live or die by the strength of their networking skills, so you’ll find that a lot of location scouts want you to find them. That’s how they get work, after all. So tracking them down on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can give you an added dimension of insight into who they are, both as people and professionals. In the case of LinkedIn, the resource also gives you a glimpse of their professional network and work experience.
Nothing makes us happier than knowing there are hardworking creative minds out there doing their best to turn ideas into reality. We hope we’ve made finding a location scout in San Diego a little easier for you and that your production goes smoothly. When your work is perfect and ready for the world, remember to tell us all about it!