Being a location scout would seem to be the most fun out of all the jobs offered in the filmmaking industry. It seems that it would be a dream vacation to travel and see if a location checks out or not. Believe it or not, headaches abound in securing a location to shoot.
There are many more details involved in securing a location to shoot a film than simply finding the location. There are permission and releases to be obtained from everyone involved. Proof of liability insurance and authorizations of access to the location may need to be obtained. The scout will convince the owner that having a 150 person crew camped out on their front lawn it going to be good fun.
Previously it might have pacified the local authorities if you gave them some small compensation, like a good bottle of whiskey, but these arrangements are no longer available. Now you must have official permission from the local authorities to use certain locations for filming. These releases must be paid for and put on file so that they can be accessed during the shoot. Once the location scout has secured the location they become the location manager. This means they are responsible for parking access and accommodations for he cast and crew.
Sometimes unusual arrangements are made in order to use a location. Stephen King's "Rose Red" was filmed at Thornwood castle in Lakewood, Washington. This castle was brought over from Europe, brick by brick, and rebuilt on she shore of American Lake by Chester Thorne. Chester Thorne was one of the founders of the Port of Tacoma. Initially while it was a good location, the castle needed to be returned to its old grandeur. The production and location managers struck a deal to refurbish the castle.
The result was that almost $800.000 of renovations were preformed on the castle. The restoration work done to the castle can be seen at Thornewood castle's website. The work done was in exchange for the use of the location once it was finished. The owners of the castle in exchange for the use of the location received $800,000 in renovations. I am sure they thought it was good deal. This case exemplifies the lengths to which producers will go to in order to secure a good location.
Location scouting was previously done at a time when the digital technology was not available to the location scout. Scouts were required to travel to the actual location and they usually ended up using Polaroid shots for their reference. Now there are location agencies that can give you virtual tours of locations and the scouting can truly be done online. All you need to do is put in a request for locations on the Internet and you will find scads of listings for location scouting agencies.
Now for those of you that are producing your own independent films, you will have to use your wits to secure your locations. If you are using your own house or apartment it will be no problem but if you are using a location that doesn't have general public access you will need to secure releases from the owners of the facilities you want to use.