All of the intrigue that surrounds the United States — including its secrets, national treasures, and every new twist in American democracy — happens right in the heart of Washington, DC. It’s no surprise that any filmmaker wanting to make an important film — or one about America’s history — is interested in filming at the nation’s capital.
To find the perfect filming location in DC, it’s oftentimes necessary to hire someone who truly knows the city. Though if you’re working on a smaller-budget film, a DC expert is probably unnecessary, especially if you need to film in fewer locations. But if you’re working on a blockbuster with 50 or 60 places, you may need to lean on the insider knowledge of DC-based location scouts. Here’s everything you need to know to begin looking for a location scout in Washington, DC.
Looking for locations in DC? Start with Peerspace
For every film project, the process of scouting locations is one of the most significant parts of pre-production. If you’re looking for incredible filming locations in DC, you’re in luck — Peerspace has hundreds of rental properties and venues, many of which are available for rent at a moment’s notice. Take your pick from an array of fully-equipped film studios, art galleries with excellent lighting, breathtaking churches, modern office spaces, luxury apartments, historic mansions, and much more.
With Peerspace, it’s a nearly effortless task to find exactly what you’re looking for, especially since the service offers many helpful filters for finding rental spaces. You can search by how many crew members you need to accommodate or by space type. So, if you need rooftop spaces, garden areas, or anything else, you can most likely find it within seconds on Peerspace.
Beyond that, each Peerspace listing features many high-quality photos that give you a total overview of the space. In addition, there are detailed, useful reviews from other creatives who have previously rented the space for their own productions. All in all, if you want to stay within your production budget by being your own location scout –– that is, without sacrificing the quality of your filming locations –– then head on over to Peerspace.
IMDB Pro keeps an exhaustive list of location scouts and location managers across the country
IMDB Pro can cost $150 a year –– and it’s more than worth the price if you’re doing more than one project a year. IMDB Pro keeps a list of all location scouts and managers, as well as every production manager, crew member, actor, casting director, and virtually everything to do with film. And, best of all, people on IMDB Pro have an incentive to keep their profiles active and updated, so you don’t have to worry about coming across a defunct organization. Nine times out of 10, IMDB Pro will probably give you the greatest amount of information with the least amount of effort on your part.
ProductionHub has several adept location scouts in Washington, DC
ProductionHub is a great resource to use when looking for basically anything that you may need to make a film. Location scouts, crews, vendors, and generally any type of equipment — they have it all. To be fair, their list of location scouts for DC is admittedly a bit more underpopulated than their lists for other cities. But they do have a few solid-looking location scouts on their list.
Check out a promising indie entertainment agency
They aren’t on ProductionHub’s list, but we think Princess Tara Productions looks like a good place to begin, especially if you’re looking for a production/location team in DC to help your production excel. And if you’re really looking to expand your circle, take a look at our article on location scouts in NYC. A three-hour train ride is all it takes to scout both locations. And, because of this, many NYC scouts have legitimate expertise that extends to DC and Philly.
Social media can help you hire the right location scout in DC
You’re a filmmaker, so odds are fair that even if you’re fresh out of film school, you will know people who can point you in the right direction about who to hire in DC. Reach out to your personal network. Collaborating with your network is one of the greatest ways to form deep relationships that you’ll carry throughout your whole career. And these relationships can ultimately have as much impact on your life and career as the films you create.
And if your own network doesn’t yield results, you can use tools –– such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram –– to perform a deep search for location scouts in Washington, DC. Using LinkedIn, you can see location scouts’ professional histories and whom they’ve worked with. And you can even reach out to other filmmakers for feedback on potential hires.
With Twitter, you can see what potential location scouts are like on a day-to-day basis, how active they are in the biz, what their filming philosophies are, and much more. And, lastly, using Instagram, you can get a great idea of scouts’ taste, so you can judge how well their aesthetic choices complement yours. All in all, social media is incredibly useful to a filmmaker looking to hire the perfect team.
Additional resources to help you scout for locations in DC
If, after using the above resources, you decide that hiring a location manager isn’t in your budget, here are a couple of other websites you can use to scout for locations:
LocationsHub is a great website to use for scouting locations. It’s run by the well-known production/tech-company Reel-Scout. However, LocationsHub doesn’t manage these locations themselves, so you won’t be booking directly through LocationsHub. But they do keep a huge list of properties and venues available in DC, especially public locations, that you cannot access to anywhere else. The service offers public parks, monuments, private businesses, and so much more. Each listing has a contact person that you will need to get in touch with to inquire about renting. The listings generally do not have prices listed, so you’ll likely need to negotiate a price.
The government film office in Washington, DC, also has a few lists of locations. Their primary list is run by Reel-Scout, so it’s identical to the one listed above. But they offer additional locations in different categories, such as neighborhoods, theaters, and restaurants. You’ll definitely need to head over to the DC film office regardless, because this is where you’ll need to go to get all of the permits you need in order to film here. Also, be sure to look into Washington, DC’s filmmaker rebate program, which, for productions that fulfill certain criteria, can rebate a very large portion of any production’s total cost. DC’s incentives for filmmakers are generous.
We hope this list is helpful to anyone who is looking for locations or location scouts in Washington, DC. If we’re lucky enough to see you sometime soon in one of our Peerspaces, we hope you’ll send us a shout out on Instagram with some selfies. Simply add the hashtag #MadeinPeerspace, and we will be able to see your smiling faces. See you soon!