What does a locations manager do?
The location in which a film is set has a huge impact on its look, feel and story. It’s the job of location managers to find that place in the physical world and make sure it’s accessible, safe and not too expensive to hire.
Based on scripts and discussions with the director, production designers and other department heads, location managers start their research. They might be looking for deserts, stately homes or shady underpasses. They arrange recces (visits) to the locations, take photographs, detailed notes, start discussions with the location owners and work out costs. They present their findings to the director and, once approved, negotiate and confirm contracts with owners.
Once filming has started, location managers manage the location. They make sure everyone in the cast and crew knows how to get there. They negotiate parking, noise reduction, power sources, catering requirements and any official permissions that may be needed with the site’s management or owner. They are responsible for ensuring it’s safe.
After the shoot, they make sure that the location is cleaned and locked up, before returning it to its owners in a satisfactory condition. Any damage must be reported to the production office and any insurance claims dealt with.
What’s a locations manager good at?
- Sourcing locations: have an eye for architecture, knowledge of landscapes, ability to research and visualise how a location could be turned into a set
- Interest in photography: take good photographs of locations to present to the rest of the production team
- Law: know how to comply with public liability, trespass, public highway and health and safety legislation
- Negotiation: get the best price for the location and facilities
- Organisation: plan, budget, attend to detail and spot potential problems in advance
- Communication: work sensitively with location owners, members of the public and production colleagues
- Not getting lost: have a good sense of direction and ability to read maps