Producer Jack Binder, filmbudget.com founder, takes a look at the role of the location manager and its impact on the production and the movie budget for motion pictures and television programming.
The Location Manager is an extremely critical crew member on a feature film and television show production. As a lead member and department head the location manager has a great deal of responsibility to the project that he or she is engaged upon. Generally the location manager is hired and brought on at a very early stage in the preparation of a movie or tv program in order to assist the producer and director at the earliest point in time.
The responsibilities of the locations department, for which the manager is the Department Head, HOD or Head of Department (as referred to in international productions) include working with the producer and director to determine what is required in terms of location filming. Through meetings with the director, producer(s) and their staff they determine what the script calls for in terms of shooting locations (the places where the filming will occur, or the Set) and with the producer for the movie budget impact the choices will present.
Overall responsibilities of the location manager include the following:
-determine location requirements
-advise on locales which may be beneficial for setting, film tax credits and natural vistas
-research suggested locations to film the movie
-provide initial options for creative discussion with director
-determination of size of the location department crew members
-analyze costs for preliminary reporting to producer on potential location expenses
-obtain feedback from the director to focus creative vision on the setting for the movie
-confer with producer to ensure locations site rental fees adhere to the overall film budget of the production
-continue research and building location shooting photo library and database
-preliminary contact with location owners to determine possibility of filming at the site as required
-further meetings and presentations with director based on preliminary consultation
-selection of best choices from presented option by director
-obtaining permissions from chosen locations
-reporting to the producer on determined costs for site hire
-secondary contact with location owners to verify costs, any potential scheduling conflicts
-securing of locations (the pencil) temporary hold
-confirmation with the producer and the director
-proceeding to contract for location with the production company
-manage the scheduling of the location in coordination with the First Assistant Director
-manage the preparation of the location with all department heads
-allowance for time and space for the set decoration department
-alllowance for time and space for the grip and lighting departments requirements
-consultation with the Director of Photography for specific needs of camera and lighting for the movie
-consultation with Production Sound Mixer regarding impediments to recording quality audio and dialogue
-oversee the shooting of the production
-load in of crew
-liase with owner(s)
-accomodate neighbors, local businesses
-parking requirements for cast, crew and support vehicles
-lunch room set-up for the catering and diningn of the film crew
-utilization of on-site facilities: restrooms, support rooms (make-up & hair, production office, etc.)
Once armed with a directive and knowledge of the needs of the screenplay and the vision of the director, the location manager begins sourcing options for the spots to create the movie setting. Using their own database and liaising with their colleagues options are compiled. Through careful review of photographs, videos and online databases as well, places are ranked by favorability and detailed by the area which they are situated in. By combining these factors with the requirements of the production, suitable places to film are narrowed down.
Following a preliminary collating of location photos for presentation to the above the line crew members the location manager will schedule a meeting with the producer and director for review of the options available. These important sessions yield valuable information for the location manager to narrow down the creative vision of the director. Likewise they will meet with the producer to ensure that the choices being presented comply with the overall film budget for the movie. Additionally, the producer will advise if the selections presented fit into the departmental budget for locations.
Armed with the creative vision, the film budget parameters and available scope of the locations department budget, the location manager continues to source site for filming and potential crew members to support their responsibilities.
Locations crew include:
First Assistant Location Manager
The Assistant Location Manager is the right hand of the department head. They likewise have extensive experience in sourcing and securing filming sites for productions.
Additional First Assistant Location Manager
Second Assistant Location Manager