Optimizing production: saving big with remote scouting for crucial insights, powered by precision technology
Virtual location scouting, in the wake of post-COVID insights and recent technological advancements, provides a priceless opportunity to survey Madagascar as a film location. In any instance where location scouting is required, be it as a result of a project brief or the need to identify a specific location...
The pandemic has highlighted that remote location scouting is not merely a traditional reconnaissance task involving the completion of a checklist for an unfamiliar place during the lockdown...(the show must go on). Conducting a precise and full location reconnaissance before the actual shoot naturally involves scouting for specific filming spots, identifying potential obstacles, and making any necessary preparations... but not only...
Scouting and filming in Madagascar can be logistically complex, but with careful planning, local knowledge, and an adaptable approach, it is entirely feasible to encapsulate the singular allure and ambiance of these settings, all the while guaranteeing the security and smoothness of prediction.
The need for location scouting is especially pronounced in Madagascar partially due to the inaccuracies in Google Maps -used a lot by producers processing preliminary research- regarding the distances to reach specific places. The primary goal is to bridge the gap between research, internet information, exotism fantasy... and the ever-changing reality of a country.
Filming in Madagascar team experienced a tough journey to a village located in the lowest part of a valley. Reaching the village was already a challenge, but the tricky part of it was the reach out to walk further, after a violent rain made every movement a sliding step, particularly dangerous in this steep area !
The main point of the location scouting was about the weather, which is not stable at all by a certain time of the year.
The filmmaking team faced a challenging journey in Madagascar when they had to reach a village situated deep within a valley. Reaching the village itself was a difficult task, but the real challenge came when they had to venture further, especially after a heavy rain, which turned every step into a slippery and perilous one, particularly in the steep terrain. The primary focus of their location scouting was on the weather, which proved to be highly unpredictable during a specific time of the year.
It proved highly beneficial to convey the on-site reality and the immediate dangers faced by the team on that particular day to the client, a producer residing in New York, through a WhatsApp video call. This live broadcast allowed them to grasp the necessity of rescheduling the shoot and allocating additional budget for a more robust SUV, given the circumstances. Using Google Earth for location identification provided them with an initial understanding of the on-site conditions, which were further depicted through pictures and live videos in the scouting report. This also introduced some dramatic elements to the documentary, enriching its content and offering a thriller-like perspective on the team's journey under those challenging circumstances.
Locations such as this one are abundant in Madagascar: remote, untamed, and exuding breathtaking beauty. They stand as exclusive film settings, having never been captured on camera before.
Yet, scouting these locations is not without its challenges. Sending an international crew on-site may seem like the obvious choice, but it can be costly and less adaptive to the local environment and risks. International crews may find it challenging to navigate the unique terrain and address unforeseen challenges, as they lack the intimate knowledge and experience that a local crew possesses.
Local scouts, deeply rooted in the region, have an intrinsic understanding of the landscape and the nuances of Madagascar's diverse topography. They are adept at identifying potential obstacles and can navigate the terrain with confidence. Additionally, they are often well-versed in the local culture, language, and customs, making it easier to establish connections with local communities and secure necessary permits.
This local advantage not only streamlines the scouting process but also ensures a deeper level of engagement with the location and the people. It promotes respect for the environment and the communities living in and around these areas. As a result, local crews are better equipped to scout locations efficiently, adapt to challenges, and find creative solutions, ultimately enhancing the success of film productions in Madagascar.
However, remote location scouting offers a cost-effective alternative for a remote island. It allows for in-depth research and assessment without the need for an international team to travel on-site. Instead, local scouts, intimately familiar with their country's geography and potential challenges, can explore these remote locations remotely and find solutions with ease. This method not only saves on expenses but also enhances safety and efficiency.
Scouting locations remotely in Madagascar is leveraging technology for real-time cost-efficient location scouting and reduced on-site expenditure.
Production companies can secure swift and cost-effective location scouting insights by relying on Filming in Madagascar's expert team, and the marvels of technology.
Scouting film locations in a remote island with challenging access, there are several crucial elements that need to be considered:
Logistics and Transport: As we embark on the logistical journey to reach these dreamy film locations, let's keep in mind the potential adventures of navigating by boats, helicopters, or maybe, just maybe, the occasional carriage (yes, still in use and very useful in Madagascar. But not for film crew 😂... Just kidding... ), ensuring the safe and efficient transport of crew and equipment. Assess the logistics of reaching the location. Consider the availability of transportation options, including boats, helicopters, or off-road vehicles, and determine the most practical and reliable mode of transport. Plan for the movement of crew and equipment, as well as the accessibility of the location for larger vehicles.
A simple Whatsapp video can show to outbound producers the different logistics options in a live broadcast (we recently tried the Whatsapp Channel that works well to share short series about logistics for film production in Madagascar. You can follow Filming in Madagascar WhatsApp channel here)
Permits and Regulations: Before we jump into the exciting world of permits and regulations, let's remember: even paradise has its rules! Now, let's ensure we've got all the necessary permits and permissions to make our filming dreams a reality. Research the local regulations and permit requirements for filming in the area. Ensure you have the necessary permits and permissions to conduct your shoot. In remote islands, these regulations may be unique and more stringent.
Safety and Emergency Plans: First things first, let's chat about safety in style! Then, we'll delve into the serious business of creating airtight safety and emergency plans, because when it comes to remote locations, preparation is your best friend ! Develop comprehensive safety and emergency plans, taking into account the remoteness of the location. This should include medical provisions, communication systems, and an evacuation strategy in case of emergencies.
Local Expertise: Collaborate with local experts or guides who are familiar with the terrain and can provide valuable insights into the location. They can also assist with navigating challenging conditions and ensuring the safety of the crew. You can click here to read an article about collaboration with tour guides, not to be confused or mixed with film fixers (we really NEED to make this clear)!
Environmental Impact (this matters to us, and we include it to the interest of producer to save budget as well!): Assess the potential environmental impact of your shoot and take measures to minimize it. Remote locations are often pristine and ecologically sensitive, so it's important to leave minimal trace and adhere to eco-friendly practices.
Resource Availability: 85% of the country is remote ! Consider the availability of essential resources, such as water, electricity, and food, in the remote area. You may need to bring in supplies or arrange for local sourcing.
Weather and Climate: Madagascar is a climate diversified country. Climate change impact changed the way a production is scheduled and needs to deal with precautions. We provide previsions but can't change the weather, we're just producers and fixers, God helps us but doesn't provide us with his powers ! Plan your shoot dates accordingly to our recommendations to avoid adverse weather conditions.
Communication: Ensure you have reliable communication systems in place. This includes satellite phones, radios, or other means of staying in touch with the outside world in case of emergencies.
Crew and Talent: Assess the availability and accommodation options for your crew and talent. In remote locations, suitable lodging may be limited, and arrangements need to be made well in advance.
Budget and Contingencies: Budget for unexpected challenges that may arise due to the remote nature of the location. Contingencies should be in place to address unforeseen circumstances.
Cultural Sensitivity: Respect local customs and cultures. Understand the traditions and practices of the island's inhabitants to ensure that your presence and actions are considerate and respectful.