This week in our “5 Questions” Series we’re looking at ways to shoot a hospital or medical look without actually using a hospital, since that type of location is both cost-prohibitive and difficult to access. If we are developing a spot for a pharmaceutical product, personal care product, or biomedical device, we generally suggest the following to our clients as locations that have the right combination of accessibility, low cost, and ability to work around current patients and health guidelines.

General Practitioner’s Office: particularly good for products that involve children, since many GP’s specialize in pediatrics and have their offices decorated in brighter colors and have posters and toys to put children at ease, which translates into a user-friendly look on screen. General Practitioners do have the drawback of seeing more “emergency” patients than some of our other suggestions – a child with an earache or the flu needs to see the doctor quickly, so it’s rare that a GP will close their entire office down for a day’s shooting, but they are generally closed on the weekends, making a buy-out of the facility on a Saturday or Sunday possible.

Plastic Surgery: A Plastic Surgeon’s office is ideal for advanced biomedical products, since some of the procedures done on the premises involve local anesthetics and surgical instruments; these can add to the realism of a set if their presence in the background is negotiated as part of the location agreement. In addition, the flooring, walls and lighting in the surgical suites is generally compares very well to a “hospital” setting, since they must meet the same quality standards.

Since Plastic Surgery is generally non-emergency work and scheduled in advance, the possibility of buying out an office for a weekday is higher than a GP’s office; but the costs for this can be high as many cosmetic procedures are high-return for the office.

Dentist’s Office: Dentist’s offices have the “medical” look, and the suites where extractions, bonding, and other intensive work is done have high-grade surgical lighting. The distinctive “dentist chair” would be the main drawback; the chairs are difficult to move, and they often have a permanent setup with water piping (for the dreaded “swish and spit”) that cannot be removed.

My personal preference is to use Dental offices for shots with hallways (which are indistinguishable from any other medical facility), lobbies, and reception areas. Of course, if your product is toothpaste, then we’ve got everything you could ever need here.

Chiropractor/Physical Therapist: With a less “surgical” look than a Plastic Surgeon or Dentist’s office, the main benefit of using a Chiropractor or PT office is space – the rooms are often very large, since they need to accommodate the massage table and other equipment, and cost-effectiveness, as these practices are often less expensive to buy out for a day’s shoot.

Cosmetologist/Dermatologist: Like the Chiropractor/PT option, these offices have less of a surgical look but are still clearly medical facilities. In addition, many locations of this type now have an area giving add-on treatments such as facials and massages, which means you can get two looks in one location: a more spa-like area for the optional treatments and a more traditional look from the areas doing treatments for skin disorders. In addition, due to the more relaxed nature of the treatments given at these types of offices I find they are easier to work with and less worried about clients being distressed at the film crew’s presence.

Stay tuned for the next installment of our  “5 Questions” series, and contact us at if you have questions, comments or a project you’d like to discuss.



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