“Forever’s End” – Locations & Scouting…

(above) – location scouting image from Forever’s End

One of the hardest parts about shooting a film that takes place in a post-apocalyptic world is the issue of finding locations that have the right look and feel and are also convincing in order to immerse the audience in not only the story, but the world we’re creating for “Forever’s End” (FE).  Also, since we’re shooting the film entirely on location,  the locations become a character in the film, so for us, there’s no room for error, the locations have to be perfect.

While there are city elements to the film, FE, in large part, takes place in and around a remote, long forgotten farm. Due to a somewhat rigorous shooting schedule, we needed to have this location available to us 24/7 for a full month.  Not only that, we couldn’t just use any old farmhouse. It needed to be a specific age and feel, it had to be an 1800’s built house, un-updated and in poor condition, but not so bad that is was not habitable.  The key here is that someone still lives there, but the house itself and especially the outlying area, barns, surrounding fields and grass need to look as if they had been untouched in years, no cut grass, new siding, or growing crops. This was also one of the hardest locations to find.  In the week or leading up to me flying out to Ohio to start on-location pre-pro, our Line Producer, Lindsay (working with several local location managers/scouts) put out word to find some potential sites. By the time I flew in, she had me booked to see a half-dozen potential farms/houses for the first two days I came into town. Since the rest of the schedule and logistics revolved primarily around me selecting our main location, this had to be done immediately.

Keep in mind that given our time-table going into production on this film (which was based mainly on the availability of cast and crew as well as budget constraints) we only had about 3 and half weeks of actual full-on pre-production for the whole film. That includes location-scouting, permits, crew hiring, production design, costuming, rehearsals… everything from finalizing production insurance to booking hotels and flights on top of all the creative elements.  From the time the film was financed to the first day of filming was less than six weeks… keep in mind that I also wrote the entire script in that first week, cover to cover.  While that doesn’t’ seem like much time, we have an incredible team on board that pulled it off right on schedule without a hitch… it’s always wonderful working with experienced professionals that are efficient and effective, putting out amazing work on a deadline.

That being said, after looking at a number of potential farms, and a lot of deliberation, I finally picked a farm located just outside of the small farming town of Eaton, Ohio, which is located southwest of Dayton, Ohio, near the Indiana state line. I picked this specific house for a couple main reasons… first and foremost:  the look and feel of the house. It felt old and somewhat run-down, but lived in.

Secondly, the house wasn’t huge, but featured large rooms with lots of floor space, making it easy to move around with a film crew and camera in the space, and lots of windows (there were at least two large windows on different sides of each room) which helped incredibly in making the lighting of many scenes that much simpler (see my blog post on shooting with “Natural Light” HERE.)  Another reason is that the house was completely empty, which meant that we could do whatever we wanted Production Design wise with the interior of the place (more on the Production Design for FE in my next post). Lastly, of the several farms/houses we considered, this one was the most logistically sound location. It was within just a few minutes of major stores, restaurants, and only 15 minutes from Richmond, IN, where our hotels were located.  Now, it’s also important to note that because of its location we were not able to shoot any exterior wide-shots at the house itself, instead, we found a similar house (that the interior was not ideal for) located near the tiny town of Corinth, KY –literally the middle of nowhere-  which we used for most of the exterior wide shots/scenes, just shooting a few days there instead of a month or more.

(above) – Eaton, Oh farm used in FE

Using completely different interiors and exteriors as the same location is commonplace in film, when cut (edited) together correctly, the audience would never guess that it’s not the same place (or in our case, a location more than 100-miles away).  Funny thing is, just as I’m writing this, Joss Whedon’s “Avengers” is shooting in three different cities, including Cleveland, playing it off as New York city (none of the cities they’re shooting in are actually New York), they will cut in wide-shots and you’ll never know the difference once it makes it to the big-screen. Just like most TV shows and movies will film inside (on a sound stage/set in a studio) one minute, then walk through a door and magically cut to a city street or rural neighborhood. We’re using the same principle on “Forever’s End”.  If we do our job right, you won’t even think about it (unless, of course, you just read this blog) .

Now that we choose that primary location (we’ll, two locations as it may be) we moved on to finalize our fantastic city locations. The city in the film itself is never really defined as one particular city, so we decided to use downtown Cincinnati as the backdrop to those scenes. I can’t say much more about that specifically at this point (I don’t want to give away too much about the story) but let’s just say we get to shut down streets and shoot some fabulous scenes!

Now that we had selected all our locations (in addition to Eaton, Corinth and Cincinnati, we also selected locations in Newport, KY and West Chester, OH) we finalized permits and worked through the hell that is the logistics needed to bring a film crew to town. A huge thanks to our Line Producer, Lindsay Rice, for being a godsend and managing most of these details so that I could move on to the fun stuff… Production Design, Camera Tests, Costumes/Makeup Tests, Rehearsals, and all the great creative goodness that is Pre-Production… more on all that in my next posts.

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