Monday, June 15, 2009

Location Surveys: Hi, We're the Annoying Filmmakers Shooting in Your Neighborhood, Sign Here

I am helping out a shoot this week and doing some location surveys in downtown LA. What an interesting task and completely exhausting. I have to go door to door to every building in a 300 foot radius of our location and let people know we will be filming there this weekend and during odd hours. (Normally you don't have to survey if you are shooting during business hours.)

I now have an even greater respect for my location crews! My feet hurt, I had no idea where a bathroom could be found, and I was parched from having no liquids in my car! 

I met some really interesting characters though. Totally worth it to me. As a storyteller, meeting new people is always a treat. Some were very nice and welcoming. Others were quick to anger and completely perturbed by my presence at their door. 

One guy was nice at first and then got really angry at the idea the City of LA would disturb him for a shoot 200 feet away. Quote: "I don't care what the hell you do down the street!" And more than a few had no problem ranting about the parking infringements we're going to cause. I left one only to have him follow me down the street so he could continue ranting. That was fun! 

I don't blame them. I hate being inconvenienced too. There's nothing worse then coming home and finding all the parking taken by some invasive film crew. At the same time, the parking is not private. It is owned by the City and if they want to give us permission to block it then they have the right. I definitely see both sides and I'm sympathetic to both. 

Being the survey-taker is a very odd position to be in. Talk about being in the line of fire! Not only are you inconveniencing the neighborhood by filming. You are now entering their establishments and expecting signatures. Knocking on random doors and not knowing who is behind them is kind of bizarre too. Towards the end of the day, I would daydream about who would be behind the door. Thank goodness none of my scary dreams came true!

I have to say I was more than pleasantly surprised though. In general, everyone was very nice and the cast of characters were intriguing. There were graffiti artists painting a whole building, lots of lofts, a toy warehouse, buildings under construction, plenty of mixed-use space (i.e. work and residence). And a couple of really cute restaurants I would have never known about. It's good to get out of your comfort-zone and be part of another world for a while. It offers some good perspective and the discovery of some gems you may want to revisit post-filming.

Honestly, everyone was probably nicer than I would have been if some random person showed up on my doorstep, told me they were coming to take over my parking and make my life more difficult and, btw, can you sign here so I can prove to the permit office, I did my job? 

Thanks everyone for being so nice! See you again in the morning! I'll bring the coffee and the donuts. 

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