Historic Salem, MA is perhaps best known for the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, and more recently as a national destination for Halloween revelers. But Salem is also an extremely popular location for all sorts of film and video production. Located roughly 30 minutes directly north of Boston, Salem offers great waterfront vistas, historic architecture, and a wide variety of looks year-round. Here’s Rewatchable’s guide to all things video production Salem, MA!
Best Filming Locations in Salem, MA
Peabody Essex Museum
Map – The Peabody Essex Museum – or PEM – is one of the hidden jewels on the North Shore, with beautiful and varied architecture, an expansive indoor performance hall that can be rented out for events, and of course an ever-changing museum packed with world class art exhibits.
Salem Willows / Winter Island
Map – Salem Willows has a bunch of just that – willows, and they’re beautiful backdrops for corporate stand-ups. There are also docks, a beach, and a peninsula that offers water views to the west, north, and east. Winter Island is also a good place to note, mainly because it offers a gorgeous easterly ocean view and tends to be less crowded than most other quality shooting locations closer to Boston.
Pickering Wharf / Derby Wharf
Map – Home to tall ships, a wooden dock, restaurants, and pedestrians galore, Pickering Wharf and Derby Wharf offer a variety of bustling, scenic waterfront shooting options.
Essex Street Pedestrian Mall
Map – The Essex Street Pedestrian Mall in downtown salem is a cobblestone walkway bookended by the Peabody Essex Museum on one end, and City Hall and the ‘Bewitched’ statue on the other. Great foot traffic for ‘man on the street’ shots, and shopkeepers and restaurateurs with a history of cooperation and even excitement for working with video producers. As an aside – don’t forget to check out Cinema Salem, a great local movie house full of film buffs.
Resources for Video Production – Salem, MA
Sunrise / Sunset Tables for Salem, MA
Tidal Charts for Salem Bonus Tip: Some of the interior tidal areas in Salem are extremely shallow – think mud flats – during low tide. Definitely plan ahead if you’re counting on a watery background.
Salem, MA Weather
Shooting in Salem at Halloween
Shooting in Salem on or around Halloween can be incredibly rewarding, but also presents a tremendous challenge. A few tips:
- Plan on walking – parking is scarce around the city on Halloween, so be portable and carry only what you’re comfortable lugging for the duration of your shoot
- Go handheld – If you can’t go handheld, consider trying a monopod when shooting video on Halloween. The pedestrian traffic around Salem (especially in the most exciting areas) is intense, and using a tripod is generally more challenge than it’s worth.
- Bring fast lenses – You’re going to find lots of interesting subjects to film in a very, very dark location. Your best bet is to bring a minimum of one lens that can shoot at f/2.8 or faster.
- Be friendly! – The Salem police do a tremendous job of keeping the city safe and orderly on Halloween, but understandably have very little tolerance for production crews obstructing pedestrian egress or traffic. ‘Shoot light, get your shot, and move on’ are good words to work by under any circumstance, but particularly so in Salem on Halloween.
As always, if you’re going to cause a commotion or inconvenience anyone with your production, be sure to contact the <a href=”http://www.salem.com”>local authorities</a> for permitting or additional resources.
Know of any other great locations, resources, or tips for video production in Salem, MA? Let us know in the comments section!