Photo courtesy Alex Kolodkin

Set Scouting for film students becomes more accessible

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By Brian Capitao

Students can rejoice if they are tired of being stiffed by price gougers when asking to use a set for a simple shoot.

Set Scouter is a DMZ startup that helps students and low budget filmmakers find a home for their equipment. Founded by Alex Kolodkin, an RTA alumni, he developed the idea after his own horrific experience pinning down a location for his final fourth-year project.

“We tried to book [a] location and it was a nightmare. When I worked as a broadcaster, I saw how expensive booking a location really is,” Kolodkin said.

Student filmmakers and broadcasters alike have voiced the need for this kind of service. Second year RTA student Sarah Jenkins says, “I had to do an interview with a 90 year old man at his house with no windows and it made the lighting look spotty. We could have used one of their listings.”

People can usually expect to pay $1500 to $3000 a day to shoot in a residential listing.

“On average that’s what homeowners are looking to get for every production that comes through,” Kolodkin said. However students can use his service as a cheaper alternative to similar location scouting services.  He says, “students have been able to book as low as $300 to $400.”

Third-year film student Jordan MacDonald said some of his classmates have used Set Scouter, but his experience finding sets is with other methods like the rental service Airbnb. “I would definitely use Set Scouter in the future. I recently used Airbnb and it ended up being pretty costly. The lady that rented it out was in the industry and knew what she was doing. It was a beautiful location though,” he said.

Set Scouters could benefit with a bit more details on the listings however, as first-year film student Mark Werner points out.

“I was in BravoFact and used Set Scouter to find a potential location. If the director had decided it was worth it, they would have gotten the business,” Werner said. He would like clarification on residential listings’ power supply, saying, “it would help to know with lighting if the fuse box was dependent on a switch or if you needed to replace individual fuses,”

“It’s still really decent. I know people outside of Ryerson at other film schools who have used it,” he said.

The Ontario Media Development Corporation, a government agency that facilitates media production, also has its own digital library and locations service but Kolodkin explains how his company differentiates.

“How we distance from them is we take the entire process and book it directly online. We take care of payments and security deposits. No one from Set Scouter checks out the locations but the user will check out the location and provide feedback using a survey to how similar that location looks online,” Kolodkin said.

Set Scouter has received positive feed back so far. Kolodkin has been featured on TechCrunch as part of 500 Startups’ Batch15. He says it was a monumental experience for him to be in Silicon Valley.

“Having the smartest people in the world around is the coolest and most humbling experience and that’s what’s going to make our company even better” he said.

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