What is your job role and what does that involve?
As a Location Manager I am effectively responsible for finding the locations we will film at and then managing all aspects of the filming at those locations. Initially I work very closely with the Director and Production Designer to create a “look” for the project, but am involved with all departments, effectively facilitating their requirements. The job doesn’t stop there though: owner, council and police liaison, traffic management etc. etc. are all part of the remit – if anything affects filming at a location, its my call.
Someone once described it as organising a wedding every day in an empty warehouse– that’s bang on: the location department has to think of everything – water, rubbish, parking, lighting, toilets, health and safety, you name it. And then the warehouse must be exactly as you found it when the unit has gone to the next warehouse…………..that has been prepared by the location team.
What have been your career highlights so far?
I have to say that everything I have worked on has been great. I am very lucky to love what I do, so they’re all good. If I had to choose, Trainspotting would be up there and my current project Beowulf for ITV is extraordinary.
How did you start out in the Locations Department?
When I began my career as a runner (in TV commercials in Soho, London) I was very lucky to be mentored by a great producer called Patrick Hayes who was brave enough to allow me to go and scout for locations for scripts. That’s effectively where it all began – I loved it and took it from there really. I used to work as an Assistant Director as well (still do occasionally) but for the past seven years have done nothing but location work.
What training have you had?
No formal training at all. When I started in the business I watched Location Managers at work and learned a lot that way. As I said I was lucky enough to be let loose as a runner and learned as I worked, and by making mistakes!
What key skills do you need for your job?
First and foremost, I think you need a good “eye”, an understanding of what will look good on camera.
After that you need to be very organised as there is a huge amount of logistics involved.
A little charm helps as you spend a lot of time shmoozing!
What’s the one thing people should be aware of pursuing this role?
It’s very hard work! A lot of hours and not a lot of sleep. I don’t think anyone else in the industry really knows what we do, nor the amount of time spent doing it. You need to be prepared to work long and antisocial hours. Remember that the location team is on set at least an hour both before the crew arrive and after it has left.
What advice would you offer out to those looking to be in the locations department?
Learn to drive and get a camera. Try to get some experience shadowing a location team member on set. It’s not for everyone.
What do you wish you had known when starting out?
That the film and TV industry is far from glamorous.
What are your top tips?
Go for it. If you really want to do it, you’ll get there in the end.