Location managers are the key to realising a director's vision. Catch them scouting out the perfect location, negotiating with landlords and even cleaning up after filming has wrapped. These guys do it all.
In this article, we will get you up to speed on the role and responsibilities of location managers to help you understand why these jacks-of-all-trades are essential to your next production.
What is a location manager?
Location managers are the unsung heroes of the TV and film industry. They are not just responsible for securing perfect locations; they must also handle the logistics to ensure the production runs like a well-oiled machine.
This is a senior position in the industry due to the vast array of responsibilities they must handle. An effective location manager possesses high levels of creative prowess to find locations that complement the artistic direction; whilst also being well-organised and logistically talented to make that location work.
A location manager's job starts way before the cameras start rolling.
What job do they do?
Perhaps the question should be what don’t they do?
Location managers tend to juggle many jobs at once, with responsibilities spanning a film project's pre-production and production phases.
Unsurprisingly, this role differs depending on the directors' needs and the shoot requirements.
A large part of the job happens before the director can say “ACTION.”
Location managers must collaborate with the director and production team throughout the project to clearly understand the desired outcome. This helps to outline the style of location needed and any logistical requirements.
With the directors' vision in mind, the location manager must extensively research and scout potential locations. Location scouting involves visiting locations in person to gather all of the necessary information such as power supplies, parking and noise pollution to ensure it meets the production's requirements.
Once the location is selected, they will negotiate the rights to use the property for production. It’s their responsibility to handle admin such as release forms, insurance and budget. They must also coordinate with local authorities to acquire a permit to film.
The last phase of pre-production is to “lock” the location. This is when the location manager arranges everything that the crew will need for a successful shoot at the location, Including everything from travel logistics to on-set catering.
The job doesn’t stop there. Location managers are often the first on set and last to leave as they are responsible for the management and logistics of the location use.
To make sure the shoot runs efficiently they will set crew schedules and coordinate the team, ensuring everyone knows what’s going on and where they’re meant to be throughout the day.
The location manager is on-set all day to manage. They must handle unforeseen issues such as an angry neighbour or missing equipment.
Safety and security on set are also paramount, enforcing safety protocols and responding to emergencies is also part of the job.
And lastly, they must oversee the clean-up of the set to make sure it is in the same condition as they found it - this is an industry standard.
Once filming has wrapped and the set is clean, their job is complete.
What does it take?
As you can imagine, these individuals are highly skilled, hence the seniority of this position in the film industry. We’ve highlighted the key skills and qualities of a successful location manager:
- Creative prowess
- Leadership skills
- Strong negotiation abilities
- Excellent communication
- Problem-solving skills
- Highly organised
- Knowledge of local law and regulation concerning the world of film
Ultimately, location managers are the MVPs of the film industry. These guys have a lot on their plate, and that’s before they even touch any of the on-set catering - that they also arranged.
They play a key role in finding and securing the perfect location that realises the directors' creative vision. Spare a thought next time you sit down to enjoy a movie!
With all that talk of location, you may be feeling inspired. Feel free to browse our ever-growing list of locations available on our platform here.
And if you have any questions, feel free to hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org.