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The Ultimate NYC Film Location Scouting Guide

If you’re filming in New York, the creative possibilities for your project are endless. Whatever look you’re going for, whatever type of atmosphere you’re trying to create, you’ll find a great venue or location within easy reach.

But with so much variety on offer, how do you find a space that ticks all the right boxes for your shoot? Location scouting can be a time-consuming process, but it’s the key to ensuring that you choose the venue that’s right for your project.

Keep reading for our five simple tips on how to choose a filming location in New York, and to take a closer look at three unique and memorable film shoot venues. 

5 tips on choosing the perfect NYC film location


Credit: Photo by Carlos Oliva from Pexels

Alt text: Looking across the water at New York City skyline at night.

Tip #1: Don’t book anything sight unseen

This is the most important piece of advice when booking film shoot locations in New York, or anywhere else for that matter. While it’s entirely possible to research venues online, nothing compares to seeing it in person with your own eyes. 

Physically walking through a space is essential to ensure that it will create the ideal atmosphere for your scene. It’s also important from a practical point of view, as there are things you’ll notice during a walkthrough (such as the location of power outlets) that are simply impossible to gauge online.

So while visiting venues in person may be time-consuming, it’s crucial if you want to find the perfect space.

Tip #2: Find the perfect lighting

You don’t need to be Spielberg or Scorsese to know just how vital lighting is to the look and feel of any scene. But you do need to know how to cast a critical eye over the lighting at any potential filming location.

Consider the mood you want to create in this scene, then check to see whether the light is right for your purposes. Remember to consider the time of day you’ll be shooting, not to mention the fact that many spaces will have a very different look at varying stages throughout the year.

If you’re shooting indoors, check out whether there’s any lighting gear included with the space. Will you have full control over all aspects of the lighting, both natural and artificial, to create the look you want?


Credit: Photo by Lê Minh from Pexels

Alt text: Photo of man filming using video camera.

Tip #3: Use your ears

Don’t just judge a location based on how it looks — sound is just as important to create the perfect scene. 

Remember to use your ears when scouting any location. Is there too much background noise that’ll wreak havoc on your audio? Are you next to a train line or some other major source of noise? Or is a space a little too quiet for the scene you want to shoot?

And if you’re going to be shooting in a big empty space, remember you’ll need to combat the resulting echo. Bringing your sound specialist along when scouting locations can help avoid problems down the line.

Tip #4: Don’t forget about permits

Next, make sure you check whether you’ll need a permit to film in a particular location. The Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting is in charge of issuing permits for filming in the City of New York, but not all filming requires a permit. Check the permit guidelines for more information.

In some cases, it may also be a good idea to inform local law enforcement of your filming plans. If there’s a chance of disrupting traffic or if you’re shooting a scene with violence, letting the authorities know can avoid any stressful or even dangerous misunderstandings.

Tip #5: Practical makes perfect  

Finally, always remember the practical aspects of filming when choosing a location. You’ll make life easier for yourself and the entire crew if you can find a venue with ample space for all your production gear, easy site access, kitchen and bathroom facilities on-site, and even private parking spaces. 

When everything you need to get started is within easy reach, you can spend less time worrying about practical matters and more time focusing on the creative side of your project.


Credit: Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Alt text: Cameraman in gray t-shirt holding a camera.

3 unique NYC film shoot locations

Searching for a New York filming location to create a memorable scene? Here are three venues that offer a diverse range of creative possibilities for your next New York film shoot.

#1. Casa Americana

This venue is vintage New York at its finest. This old house in Queens offers a backdrop of chipped paint and retro wallpaper, so it’s perfect for taking your viewers on a trip down memory lane. It also offers several rooms spread across multiple floors, ensuring that you have plenty of options at your fingertips.

#2. 393 NYC

A multimedia event space on Broadway, 393 NYC offers a 360-degree projection system. These floor-to-ceiling projections create a completely immersive experience, so you can rest assured that any project filmed here is certain to catch the eye.

#3. MoMA PS1

This contemporary museum in Queens offers several spaces for a diverse range of creative opportunities. From the impressive Lobby to the classy atmosphere of the Kunsthalle and the outdoor space of the courtyard, MoMA PS1 is a uniquely memorable place to film.

Wrapping up: Finding your perfect New York filming location

Finding a filming location that ticks all the boxes can be time-consuming, but all that hard work will have a huge effect on the quality of your production. The city is bursting with unique and exciting venues, many of them undiscovered gems, so start searching for your perfect New York filming venue today.


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