Choosing the right studio space for your film project can be tricky. Whether you are shooting the company CEO, or need a space that’s up to broadcast standard for TV interviews, you need a studio that’s fit for purpose and flexible.
Perhaps your regular space is already booked, not suitable for the project, or you just don’t have the budget this time. Maybe you’re coming to London and don’t know where to start!
Here are a few pointers on what to consider when looking for a film studio space.
Where exactly is the studio? You’ll find a few places that list themselves as central London venues, but actually aren’t all that central. Or, indeed, particularly close to where their name suggests. So be sure to check the location carefully. It may be in the perfect place – but it might equally be harder to get to than you think. Which brings us to…
How do you plan to get to and from the studio? Are you bringing all your own kit? How are your crew and contributors going to get there? You’ll need to consider what provisions the studio has for vehicle parking and public transport nearby. Remember you could save precious budget if you don’t need to lay on taxis or transport for everyone involved in the shoot.
As well as the location of the studio itself, you should also consider what’s nearby. Are there places to get food and refreshments, or will you need to bring all of that with you? Are you close to any local shops? Can you send a runner out to grab things quickly or is the nearest shop a 15 minute drive away?
What about the studio space itself?
Make sure you fully understand the shooting space available to you. If you are just shooting an interview or two, you don’t necessarily need to pay for a space that’s big enough to drive a car into. A smaller space will be better for your sound recording and these are often located in more central areas.
Not all studios are created equal! If you need to record sound be sure to check the space is suitable for this. Trendy hardwood floors and exposed brick walls may look fab on camera, but will play havoc if you are trying to capture usable audio. A lot of hard surfaces and no insulation sends sound waves bouncing all around the room, giving audio a thin, echoey sound.
Control the space
The same could be said of lighting. Studios with natural lighting from large windows are not recommended for filming. The subtle differences in daylight throughout the day can cause continuity issues and mix-up colour temperatures in the camera. Chances are your lighting cameraman or DOP will want to blackout the windows so they can control the light. This isn’t an issue with purpose build studio spaces, so if your project needs a completely controlled environment, look for a space which is already blacked out and fit for purpose.
Know what you are paying for
Be sure you know what’s included in the studio rate you’re paying. There may be images of camera kit and lighting on the website, but don’t think all that comes as standard with your booking. In most cases you are paying only for the space, any lighting, stands, sandbags, backgrounds or consumables (such as tape and light gels/frosting) will be charged on top. You may even need to pay for the electricity you use. Be sure to double check what will affect your shoot.
Your shoot may start early, or finish later than planned. Be sure you know what’s the studio’s policy for early or late access. Most often this is charged by the hour for any shoots outside the normal working day. So if you find your shoot overrunning it could heavily affect your bottom line if you are already squeezing the production budget.
Is it easy to book
Things can change quickly in this industry, suddenly the talent becomes available and you need to set-up a shoot pronto. Or the opposite, and something that’s been planned for weeks is suddenly put on hold or worse, cancelled. Be sure you work with a studio that is quick and easy to book and understanding about the nature of cancellations, allowing you to move dates if required. Most studios require payment upfront to secure a date, but should let you hold pencils until someone else enquires after the same date. Make your life easier and take advantage of places that let you pencil a date online.
What extra assistance or services does the studio offer you? Depending on your situation, or the particulars of the project, you may need advice about lights, camera equipment or even a full crew to conduct the shoot. Booking your crew and equipment from the studio itself can sometimes provide a considerable cost saving. You may wish to ask about any post-production services too. Live Streaming your shoot is also an option at some studios, which is especially useful for corporate or training applications. So consider these angles when searching for your perfect studio space.
We hope that helps you make better choices when shopping around for studios.
If you are on the hunt – we might be the place for you!
Bloomsbury Film Studio is located in the heart of London, near to rail links and tube stations. It’s perfect for interviews, talking heads, list shows, corporate comms and product demos. A self-service unit with no early or late fees. We offer great rates with full lighting included, as well as camera and crew packages. It’s easy to book, simply pencil your dates online and we’ll get back to you to discuss your requirements.