web-series-location-scouting

[Editor’s Note: Welcome to Diary of a Web Series, the column that offers you an entertaining look into the machinations of a zero-budget web series made possible by an idea, fortitude, and democratized tools of production. For all the background on why we started publishing Diary of a Web Series – and why we think it’s great – check out the first installment right here. You can watch the web series the diary is about, too. It’s called STRAY and it’s good. Click here to watch it. And you can catch all the installments of Diary of a Web Series right here.]


Location scouting sounds beaucoup glamorous, and I’m sure it is if you’re in Iceland scouting bleak, craggy landscapes for the next Westerosi battle, but if you’re scouting for a bottom-budget indie web series, even using the world “scouting” sounds funny. My location scouting went a little something like this:

Me: Can I shoot at your apartment?

Friend 1: Absolutely. When do you need it?

Me: The 1st.

Friend 1: I’m in Austin that weekend.

Me: How about the 8th?

Friend 1: My sister’s in town that weekend.

Me: How about the 15th?

Friend 1: I’ll be at Coachella.

Me: What about the 22nd?

Friend 1: I have a soldering class that weekend.

Me: The 29th??

Friend 1: I committed to a nationwide manhunt that weekend.

Me: OK, you tell me a date that works for you.

Friend 1: Q2, 2018 is looking pretty open.

Me: Can I shoot at your apartment?

Friend 2: Sure. How long?

Me: Eight to ten hours.

Friend 2: Oh, that’s mildly inconvenient for me.

Me: Can I shoot at your apartment?

Friend 3: Sure, we’d have to tidy up a bit.

Me: I can help if that makes it easier.

Friend 3: We may need to put some stuff in the spare bedroom.

Me: If it’s going to be a hassle, don’t worry about it.

Friend 3: Actually, come to think of it, the spare room is already pretty packed.

Me: It’s OK. I’ll figure something else out.

Friend 3: I could put some stuff in storage.

Me: Umm, what?

Friend 3: There are some reasonable options in Long Island City.

Me: Please don’t do that.

Friend 3: Or I can take some stuff to my parents’.

Me: …

Friend 3: They’re only about a three-hour drive away. No sweat.

Me: Do you know anyone who has an apartment where I can shoot?

Friend 4: I know a guy. He’s in the industry and is used to lending out his apartment for shoots. His apartment is awesome, and he’s a really nice guy. I doubt he’d charge much, if anything at all.

Me: Great! Where’s the apartment?

Friend 4: Boston.

Me: Do you know know anyone who has an apartment where I can shoot?

Friend 5: Absolutely.

Me: Excellent. Where’s the apartment?

Friend 5: Brooklyn.

Me: Perfect! Finally!

*Show up with crew and equipment to find a boozy brunch taking place.

It soon occurred to me, as it would with other requisite production tasks, that friends and friends of friends, while effective in subsidizing production costs, cannot be relied on in the long term. So, I turned to Airbnb. I found an apartment with the right look and feel, and shot the first two episodes there. It was a little more than I wanted to spend, but, screw it, we had found our main location!

That was in February. When April rolled around, ushering in the nice weather and the high season, booking became difficult, compounded by the challenge of scheduling unpaid cast and crew. How difficult? You can read about my interaction with the Airbnb apartment owner here.

All this to shoot two guys in a room. Next season will have many more moving parts and will require more locations. For starters, we’ll need a go-to bar location for the main characters…

Actually, now that we’re on the subject, do any of you know a bar in New York where I can shoot?


pablo-andreu-headshotPablo Andreu is not a creator or a scriptwriter. He’s certainly not a filmmaker. He’s just a guy who decided to make a web series called STRAY. It’s a bromantic comedy in which a brash gay dude and a nerdy straight guy talk sex and relationships while reconnecting in New York City years after college. He hopes it’s funny. By some inscrutable alchemy, his scribblings have wormed their way into The New York Times, McSweeney’s and some others. Usually, you can find him babbling here: https:[email protected]

Bio photo by Alison Bourdon.

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