Location scouting can be some of the most frustrating and time-consuming parts of pre-production. Anytime something needs to be shot outside the comfort of property owned by yourself, family, or friends is when things get tricky.
For our short film BRAWL, the location that the script calls for is a large abandoned building. (I blame whoever writes these scripts...) Needless to say, large abandoned buildings are not easy to come by in Central Florida.
So how do you find one? There's really only one answer to that:
At least, that's been our experience so far. If you have people to contact, by all means, that should be your first option. We don't know anyone who owns property with large buildings that have been forgotten for years, so we have to find our own.
Months ago, we stumbled on the best find we've ever had:
An incredibly large building that looked as though it had been abandoned for years. Overgrown with greenery, weathered concrete...it was beautiful! It had multiple rooms, all the size of basketball courts. This was a location we kept in mind for a while, but never had an opportunity to shoot there.
Just the other week, we returned after many months to scope it out again for BRAWL...and the entire property was under construction. We assume the city was going to repurpose the building again to put it back in to use. Either way, it meant our amazing location was no more.
On a whim, I decided to go on Google Maps and try to find something. I know, an insanely bold move, right? Like trying to find a needle in a haystack. But the alternative was driving around far-out places without the assurance we'd find anything. It was worth a shot.
No, it really was worth a shot. Because we found a place.
There's no secret to finding anything on Google Maps. The process is literally scrolling around until you see a rooftop of a building somewhere and say, "Hmm...that looks abandoned." And then going there. I wish I had a better method, but that's the one we used to find this place.
Zach is standing on the rooftop of one of two buildings that we found via Google Maps. We assume at least these buildings were used for farm storage at one point, clearly have not been used for years. One of these building we could not get into, because the rolling doors would not open. Their tracks had long since fallen apart.
We were able to get to the roof easily enough, taking some stairs on the side of the building that lead up to it.
...now seems like a good time for me to take a moment to again mention the importance of safety.
Not that exploring a building that hasn't been maintained in years isn't one of the safest things to do in the first place, but if you do, do it with caution, always.
Yes, we have moments of idiocy, too. While on the roof, we had a moment of,
"These don't look very strong."
"Sure they are!"
"Nobody step on those."
Watch out for yourself. Watch out for those you're with. Use common sense.
We found our way into the second building, which had a rolling door that still worked. And that's where things usually get creepy.
And this building was no exception!
It's a very eerie feeling walk around in such stillness, your footsteps disrupting the silence that has filled the room for years. Breathing in dusty air that hasn't been disturbed for a very long time. Any little sound has you looking over your shoulder, jumping at nothing.
Speaking of breathing in dusty air, how 'bout that safety, huh??
We're definitely going to keep this location in mind, because it does have a lot of character. Though so far, it seems as though most abandoned locations do. Each one tells a different story. But can the building help you tell your story? That's up for you to decide.
Let us know about any cool places you've found in your travels! We'd love to hear about it! Stay tuned for more updates on upcoming projects!