What is a Recce?

The word and meaning are derived from the word reconnaissance, which is a military term that has since been coined by film production companies in the UK. It is a site survey to determine technical aspects, lighting, sound, logistics and anything else that the shoot requires. Location recce’s tend to be investigative missions which crew use to judge the locations suitability.

The crew, (camera, sound, DOP’s, directors etc) use this time to ask the studio about lighting, power, access, rigging, staging and asses the studios capabilities in-line with the production. The producer’s role is to check the other logistics such as parking, client liaison, client hospitality, catering, staffing, crew workspace, travel arrangements and anything else that is required.

Why Recce the Studio Space?

Visiting your location is essential to help sculpt the shot list, build production designs, prepare the technical crew with kit requirements logistics and most importantly, the health and safety aspects which will be required for risk assessments.

checking the studio out for filming

I cannot stress how important it is to visit the desired location before any shooting takes place. You get to meet the studio and staff and get a feekl for how they do things. It’s also the time to discuss rates, budgeting, payment terms and legal requirements. This can be anything from invoicing details, special requirements (for disabled people perhaps, insurance policies, security of kit and crew and the after booking care that some studios offer: for example, assistance in the editing process, promotion of finished material and arranging a pick-up shot day just in case.

Studios usually make sure that they can cater for most requirements and should have sufficient equipment and processes in place to make things easier on the day but there will always be something that you discover on a recce which may change your outlook and ideas.

Get in the space. Get a feel for the surroundings. Ask yourself some key questions. Will our crew, cast, art dept and props dept have enough access? Will the gaffer have enough cables? The list can be endless so look at your shot list and draft a series of questions to ask.

The studio manager should be happy to go through them with you. They may not always know the answers for all the of the strange and wonderful requirements that get asked but they should know how to get those answers and will probably have alternative solutions if what you want is not exactly available.

Ask as many questions as you need to. These questions are useful for the studio team in preparing the studios for your shoot day. If you don’t recce you may come across some unfortunate surprises on the day that could compromise your whole production.

Key Questions to ask on a Recce:

  • How long does the booking last for and when does it start?
  • Is there drive in access?
  • Is their a make-up or green room?
  • What power does the studio have and how is it distributed? (feel free to ask the gaffer to speak to the studio as he may have questions of his own)
  • Can we bring our own equipment, e.g., lights, grip props etc?. Some studios require that you use their own
  • Are the spaces soundproof or sound treated?
  • Can we pre-rig for the shoot? (evening or early morning get-in? Is this possible/necessary?)
  • Are we insured? (Most spaces have their own for their own kit but not for yours. Public liability is a must).
  • What is included in the hire agreement? (check overtime rates, what are the terms?)
  • Do you have WIFI/printing/production office (generally consider the art dept and others who use up space)
  • What kit and crew logistics can they offer (later access, pre-rig, consultation, planning etc)
  • What props are available (this could save you time and money and the studio should have lots of contacts)
  • Is there parking?
  • Where is the nearest… (cafe, caterers, art shop, corner shop etc etc)
  • Something always comes up and is needed ASAP so have as much of an idea as possible so that they can be sourced at the last minute.

Remember. There are so many factors to consider and this is more so the case on location shoots which are usually prepared for productions. The person in charge of the desired location may have very little knowledge of film production so knowing what you are looking for before you arrive will save time.

Ask questions, these usually create more questions but that is going to be easier to deal with early rather than later.

Sam Parkinson, Studio Manager at Camberwell Studios.

Do not hesitate to contact us for any requirements.

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