Culture, Op-Ed

Changing the Location Scouting Game

Having the resources on a budget to find exactly what you’re looking for has been impossible. There are big budget films that assemble teams who specialize in location scouting, but the majority of us don’t have the budget to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a scouting department. And honestly, it doesn’t even make sense to have to do that anymore. If you really wanted to you could go on Google and find a space yourself, but even still connecting and convincing the space owner are the hardest parts. So it only made sense that, being in the era of the sharing economy, that was going to change.

The fact is that visual storytelling is lost if it’s out of context — space is what focuses it. If Rear Window had been shot in a home, instead of an apartment, with Jimmy Stewart looking in on the residents of the surrounding houses the story would have been completely different. In the apartment, Stewart looks in on people who live under the same roof as him.


Rear Window (1954) / Image via

Rear Window (1954) / Image via


These people enter the same doors as him, walk the same halls, and take the same elevators. This fact is what activates the ‘live wire’ response of the viewer, it’s what activates the visceral experience. When you think about a film do you not associate both the actor and the place? A film would suffer without a setting, it would be incomplete.

So now that we know the importance of space in film, making unattainable space accessible for filmmakers, couldn’t have been more crucial. Just like transportation that has moved from subways and Yellow Cabs to Ubers and Lyfts; music has that turned from CDs to iTunes and Spotifys; location scouting has gone from pricey scouting departments to Splacer.

When two architects set their mind to reimagining how space could be used and accessed in this era of the sharing economy, Splacer was born. It’s now a group of more than twenty creatives that selectively curate memorable spaces — and we’re trying to change the game while we do it. We spend days scouting for that mid-century modern two story house, with floor to ceiling glass windows, a pool, and a gravel driveway approximately 100 miles from Manhattan; Or the 3,000 square foot basement with white walls, four bathrooms, and it has to be located between 14th and 16th street in New York City. If you can’t find the right space from our 450 or so options in New York City or the 150 in the Bay Area, we’ll get it for you.

Splacer can be used as your personal location scouting department, but for just the price of the space itself. And though Splacer’s online marketplace is a reflection of tech-centric peers, the team is not — would you ask a writer to do the work of a mathematician? It is composed of architects, curators, installation artists, photographers, writers, filmmakers, musicians, and the list goes on. This is the direction location sourcing is going.


Words by Katy Hallowell