China Filming Insights

A Guide for Filmmakers and Production Companies

China Location Scouting: A Comprehensive Guide for Filmmakers

The captivating realm of filmmaking in China presents a unique blend of creative challenges and logistical complexities. Among these, location scouting stands as a crucial step in the production process, demanding meticulous planning and a deep understanding of narrative requirements. As a filmmaker venturing into the diverse landscapes of China, a comprehensive understanding of location scouting practices is essential for crafting a successful and memorable production experience.

China Location Scouting

Who is Responsible for Location Scouting?

Ideally, the task of location scouting is entrusted to a professional location scout. However, in cases where a dedicated scout is not feasible, the responsibility may fall upon the producer and director. While this may require utilizing personal resources and seeking assistance from friends or family, it’s important to remember that the power of art direction and script adjustments can overcome initial discrepancies between the envisioned location and the actual found space.

Preparation for Location Scouting:

  1. Script Breakdown Analysis: Scrutinize the script breakdown to determine the number and type of required filming locations. Assess whether each scene calls for a constructed set or a real-world location.
  2. Balancing Visual Appeal and Practicality: Strike a balance between visual aesthetics and practical considerations, finding a compromise that ensures both creative fulfillment and operational feasibility.

During Location Scouting:

  1. Compensation for Location Scouts: If a professional scout is employed, factor in their daily rate, including vehicle usage, printing costs, travel expenses, and other relevant charges.
  2. Crucial Information Disclosure: Provide the scout with all essential details upfront, including:a. Day or Night Shooting: Specify whether filming will take place during the day or night. b. Anticipated Shooting Dates: Outline the projected dates for filming activities. c. Number of Cast and Crew: Indicate the expected number of cast and crew members. d. Catering Arrangements: Inform the scout about catering arrangements for the team. e. Utility Requirements: Clearly state whether access to electricity, water, and sanitation facilities is required. f. Specific Scenic Needs: Articulate any specific scenic requirements or desired features of the location. g. Synchronous Sound Recording: Indicate if synchronous sound recording will be conducted at the location.
  3. Pacing the Scouting Process: Determine the number of locations to scout per day and the overall duration of the scouting phase. Establish a clear timeline for receiving location scouting photographs.

Post-Scouting Organization:

  1. Comprehensive Location Files: Create well-organized files for each potential filming location, including:a. Photographs: Include photographs of the location, preferably in panoramic views. b. Contact Information: Provide the location’s address, phone number, and email address. c. Photograph Date: Document the date when the photographs were taken. d. Window Orientation: Note the orientation of windows and natural light sources. e. Location Fees: Outline the associated rental fees or usage charges. f. Essential Rules or Warnings: Highlight any important regulations, restrictions, or safety precautions.

Finalizing the Location Selection:

  1. Evaluation Criteria: Employ a systematic evaluation process to assess each potential location based on factors such as suitability for the narrative, visual appeal, accessibility, budget constraints, and overall practicality.
  2. Negotiation Strategies: If seeking discounts from the location owner, consider offering alternative forms of compensation or incentives.

Securing Location Authorization:

  1. Written Location Agreement: Formalize the agreement with a written location permit, clearly specifying the filming dates, location address, and hourly rental fees.
  2. Insurance Coverage: Obtain adequate insurance coverage to protect against potential liabilities and property damage during filming.
  3. Rental Fee Payment Schedule: Establish a clear timeline for rental fee payments.

Post-Filming Etiquette:

  1. Express Gratitude: Extend sincere gratitude to the location owner for their cooperation and hospitality. Ensure their satisfaction with the outcome to foster a positive relationship and open doors for future collaborations.


Effective location scouting in China is an art that demands careful planning, meticulous observation, and a collaborative spirit. By embracing the strategies outlined in this guide, filmmakers can navigate the diverse landscapes of China with confidence, unlocking the perfect locations to bring their stories to life. Remember, a well-scouted location is not just a backdrop; it’s an integral element that enhances the narrative and elevates the overall filmmaking experience.