What you do in the job?
In pre-production, Location Managers must work closely with the Director to understand his or her creative vision for the film. This informs Location Managers' decisions when identifying and visiting potential locations, together with issues such as accessibility, and the flexibility of the schedule and budget. They usually compile a photographic storyboard in the production office in order to report back on their findings. Once the ideal location is agreed, Location Managers begin negotiations over contracts and fees for the location, and make all the necessary arrangements for filming to take place, including co-ordinating parking facilities, available power sources, catering requirements, and permissions from the relevant authorities.
Location Managers are also responsible for ensuring that everyone in the cast and crew knows how to get to the filming location, and they must display clear location or unit signs along main routes. During filming, Location Managers oversee the health and safety of everyone using the location. After the shoot, they must ensure that the location is securely locked, and adequately cleaned, before returning it to its owners. Any damage must be reported to the production office and if necessary, insurance proceedings instigated.
Working closely with the production manager, you will remove many of the logistical burdens of a shoot from the director. You will assist the director, usually in a drama, to find, set up and manage locations for the programme. You will have to try and interpret what the director has in his or her mind and find a location that comes close. Then check out access, parking, power availability and safety considerations. You will arrive at the location first on the day of the shoot make sure all the facilities are in place to ensure a smooth running day.
What qualities are required?
Location Managers need initiative and a strong imagination in order to visualise and find potential locations that will satisfy the Director's requirements. Excellent organisational skills and the ability to negotiate are essential in order to successfully gain permissions to film in the ideal locations, as well as to keep location fees on budget. Administrative skills may be required when drawing up contracts and negotiating permissions with local authorities. Trouble-shooting and communication skills are useful during filming, when Location Managers may need to resolve any unforeseen problems involving the location. They must also be extremely reliable and flexible - Location Managers are usually the first to arrive on location and the last to leave, so the hours can be long and unsocial. A high degree of motivation and enthusiasm are required.
They have to be highly practical, organised and reliable, as the whole shoot will depend on their planning, along with the production manager.
Also interpersonal, visual skills and stamina. The job involves a lot of travelling and early starts.
How you start and where you can go with it?
No formal qualifications are required to become a Location Manager. Industry experience is key, and the best place to start is in the conventional entry-level role of Runner.
A location manager will probably progress to production manager and possibly director or producer. You may go on to assistant director in drama.