Locating the action

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For zero-budget film-makers, finding the right locations can be a challenge.

On Impasse, when we weren’t out in the countryside (including one place where we probably needed a permit but decided against trying to get one) we used two locations. One was the home of friends. The other was the home of writer/producer Clare.

The friends’ home was perfect for our needs and they were incredibly understanding and supportive, even putting up with being locked out of their house for longer than expected. But that’s not the kind of generosity you encounter easily, and it’s not the sort of thing you can count on when planning a film.

Using Clare’s home wasn’t without its issues too – not least the disruption to family life. Again, everyone was very considerate, but doing that sort of thing too often would be abusing their hospitality.

For Albert, we hit on the idea of using a gîte – a holiday cottage. (We also considered looking around for private holiday homes – something we may do for future shoots.)

Trish scouts our location

Trish scouts our location – it’s bigger than it looks in this picture

The advantages are many. First, the location isn’t too full of the sort of idiosyncratic, personal objects that you tend to find in someone’s home. But they have all the basics, so there’s less set dressing than you’d need to do in something like an empty property. (We also considered asking people who are selling houses but not currently living in them.)

Because the gîte isn’t being lived in, you can leave the set overnight knowing no-one’s going to move anything. Albert was shot in one room over the course of two days, so that was very useful.

The location also provided accommodation for two of our crew. Morgan and Samuel – both film students – had come up from Rennes for the shoot.

We know quite a few people who operate gîtes, but our choice couldn’t have been a happier one. Alex, bless her, volunteered the use of any of her three cottages (details here…). That was very generous, but we insisted on paying for the two overnight stays for our crew members – and for their breakfasts. If we’d known what they were going to get, we’d have ordered breakfast for everyone. I’ve never seen such a feast.

In the end, we used all three gîtes – one for the location and accommodation, another for storing kit (and the sofa we moved out of the main gîte), and the third for lunch breaks.

Once in a while we’d find a goat peering through the curtains to watch the action, but not once did Alex & John’s large menagerie – which also includes sheep and alpacas – cause any audio problems. They obviously understand the command “quiet on set”.

So, a huge thank you to Alex and John – we couldn’t have done it without you.

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