The job of location manager is one that has always fascinated me and during this assignment I was keen to take on the role to research how to complete it to a professional standard rather than just treating it like a small part of the production as is usually the case.
Initial research on the Creative Skillset website suggests that the Location manager not only sources suitable locations for the film crew but must also manage the whole crew when on set; this is a much bigger role that I imagined and was keen to take it on. I was keen to work out what exactly was involved and how I could best do my job so I researched a number of professional location managers and also some of the agencies that assist location managers in my local area.
Alex Giannopoulos – Breaking Bad
Alex Gianopoulos was one of the location management team on HBO’s successful drama ‘Breaking Bad’. I chose this show to research because for me one of the key things I enjoyed in this show was the cinematic locations used and the detail that seemed to have gone in to choosing exactly the right location to fit the narrative.
Over time I learned that to please Vince, I just have to find cool looking shit holes..
In a Blog Q&A, Gianopoulos described the tight deadlines that he faced between getting the script and shooting the scenes, He explained that often they could have less than 8 days of planning before shooting commenced. Having such short deadlines I think emphasises the need to have a good database of possible locations to hand and having a really good working relationship with a network of local planning agencies and landowners, as well as a great knowledge of the producer’s vision for the scene so that time isn’t wasted on unsuitable locations.
Interestingly Gianopoulos also provided some information about the logistics of filming on location, He highlighted a scene at the popular ‘Four Corners’ monument on the border of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. The monument is normally very busy and Gianopoulos described how they combated this by filming wide scenes on location at dusk when it was quieter, using a standing actor and then the close-ups were filmed on a soundstage where they could re-create a small portion of the monument and use the actual actor for close-up shots. Filming a scene in this way saves money on closing an attraction and hiring the more expensive actor for scenes where they are not necessarily needed. This highlights also the need for a location manager to be considerate of budget constraints during production.
Location Manager – Rob Story
If found Rob Story through my research on YouTube into Location mangers and the way he works and his motivation was really something that I could relate to. Story explained that as a location manager his job was a professional liar which ties in with my experiences of location managing small projects of my own. To have to have the ability to negotiate with clients and property owners is key to doing a great job.
With regard to actually scouting, much like Gianopoulos there is an emphasis in knowing your own local ‘patch’ like the back of your hand and being able to call up an ideal location quickly. Story explained that a locatons are normally picked not just because of their visual appeal but how close they are to the Airport so satisfy budget and time constraints, in fact he says that this is one of the first questions he asks a producer during the initial negotiations.
Story says that he enjoys driving and this is something that has helped him get to know knew locations. I can definitely relate to this and can understand that having a sense of adventure and just driving around exploring new areas, even as a way of self-therapy will be a massive benefit when building a database of locations to call up when required in the role of location manager.
When carrying out my role I’d like to take inspiration from Story. I don’t want to be they type of location manager that hides things from clients; I think the key thing when building a contact network for me will be honesty. I think if you hide the fact that things will take longer and be messier than explained will just prevent you from using that location again for other projects or even if you have to return for re-shoots.