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Low-Cost, High-Quality Film: A Guide to Affordable On-Location Shoots

Some of today’s most critically acclaimed television shows and movies are filmed on sets and in closed, pre-built locations; to be sure, some of history’s most critically acclaimed television shows and movies have been filmed on sets! But most video production these days aren’t big-budget studio films; they’re YouTube videos and online marketing content. There’s something truly authentic—something irrefutably powerful—about on-location shoots, and this energy is captured by cameras and, in turn, enjoyed by viewers.

Of course, one of the biggest downsides to on-location shoots—one of the only downsides—is the associated cost. While they don’t require the rental for the set or soundstage, filming on-location can still be pricey, and this reputation for expensiveness has led the shooting style to be regarded as intimidating (and not worth exploring) by many rising filmmakers.

By implementing some simple and effective tips, however, media professionals who’re filming on-location can save a substantial amount of cash and complete the process for a fraction of the cost paid by others, all without sacrificing the quality of the produced footage in any way.

Let’s take a look at some straightforward ways to save money on on-location shoots!


Put Food First

For many upcoming filmmakers, on-set food is something of an afterthought; a concern of secondary importance that’s considered only at the last second. While this style of thinking is correct in theory and typically works without issue on traditional sets, it could cause considerable trouble (and cost a significant amount of money) when filming on-location.

The reasoning is simple: food is fuel, and without fuel, actors, camerapersons, make-up artists, and all the other experts that make a set function won’t perform at their best. The resulting mistakes will cost time and money. Furthermore, rushing to retrieve food from an unfamiliar venue in an unknown area doesn’t look particularly professional, and will produce unexpected last-minute fees (ordering in advance is almost always cost effective).

In short, on-location filming is much easier and cheaper when food (including allergy information!) is put first.


Reduce Housing Costs

image source: St. Louis Corporate Housing

It might be tempting to book a film crew’s stay in a hotel, but it isn’t always economical. On the contrary, hotels can be absolute “money pits” that eat-up the majority of an on-location work’s budget.

Short-term apartment rentals are affordable and convenient alternatives. They have accommodation options available in almost every area. Planning for an on-location shoot and choosing an apartment instead of a hotel will preserve a project’s budget and assure that the resulting footage is once again excellent.


Have a Plan-B

image source: Creative Commons

Most actors and actresses are committed, dedicated, attentive professionals who’re honored to be part of a project they’re passionate about. Like many things in life, though, occasional “bad apples” do appear and will be encountered. These “bad apples” could very quickly be part of one’s on-location project.

As such, to minimize risk, minimize losses, and assure that a project gets finished as scheduled, it’s important for on-location film professionals to have a plan-b. This means that backup actors, actresses, and crew members must be on retainer and able to be called at a moment’s notice should their services be required.


Save Money on Audio

While traditionally seen as a post-production consideration, more and more video productions are employing their sound design throughout the production process, which may or may not necessitate having it picked out before you even start filming. For smaller, DIY productions, hiring a music designer and renting a full foley stage are just not viable options. This is where Music Beats comes in. We have lots of premixed audio, some for free, and all for a very affordable price. We can even help you mix your own sound cheaper than you could find at a ritzy Hollywood sound studio. Audio is half of your video, and you need to make sure that you’re representing your content as professionally as possible.


These tips are sure to help on-location film professionals save as much money as possible and produce fantastic footage. Thanks for reading and good luck!

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