How to find the perfect location for your brand’s marketing video (without a Hollywood budget).
When creating an effective live action marketing video, such as an explainer or a commercial, where the video is shot is as important as the script itself. If the location doesn’t work, then the entire video becomes less believable and the story – the brand’s message – will get lost in space.
We’ve worked with companies that had six-figure budgets, which makes securing locations easy. For example, when we shot this Tegra launch video for Nvidia, we were able to secure multiple locations from the Santa Cruz Boardwalk’s roller coaster, to a boxing gym, to a ride on a single-engine plane.
But most brands, especially startups, don’t have resources like Nvidia. Yes, it starts with the script, which has to reflect the available resources. And sometimes scripts are re-written if something is not doable within budget. For the most part, though, we do our best to make it happen, to realize the vision in the script.
Below are some examples of how we got creative when finding locations.
Location: Sound Stage
The script called for multiple locations. After all, the product is about connecting people scattered around the world. In the script, we had someone in sunny California working virtually with someone at a cold Scandinavian country. At the time, before Zoom became a household brand, this was something new and we had to convey the story in a realistic and believable way. But of course, we didn’t have the budget to send crews from Los Angeles to Norway. We would have loved to film an actor in front of the Hollywood sign and another on a glacier somewhere, but alas, we had to find a creative alternative.
We decided to shoot this video on a sound stage. We built several sets, one complete with a winter paradise background, and several office or home settings. We also shot a scene in the conference room at the studio.
There are of course trade-offs between shooting on a sound stage versus a real location, which you can read about here.
Location: Computer History Museum
We had six scripts and six different locations. But of course, limited budget. We had to shoot everything in one day which meant we didn’t have time to drive from location to location. It had to be done all in one place. We called up our friends at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA. We rented one large room, and then they allowed us to shoot in their parking lot as well as their bathrooms and hallways. Of course, we had to work around their schedule and be mindful of their guests since we shot this on a regular business day, but we were able to get realistic looks without spending a fortune.
Here’s one of the videos. Check out the others here.
Privia Health and Gong Beat
Locations: House Rentals
We often write or receive scripts with different people at different houses. When we don’t have the budget to film at multiple places, then we usually turn to renting a house. It has to be big enough and have enough variety to pull off the idea that each person is at a different place. There will need to be some dressing and planning, but it’s an effective way to shoot a realistic-looking video within budget.
There are many challenges to shooting marketing videos. Finding the perfect location on budget is definitely one of them. But with a little creativity and planning, you won’t have to rewrite the script to make it happen.