A Day in the Life of a Location Manager

Darren Pratt has worked for Locate for more than four years. Here, he talks us through the two sides of his job; from location scouting to managing the location on set. Whether he’s allocating parking or location hunting door to door, Darren talks us through his varied role fueled by adrenaline.

Lights up at 5am

In film, people like to arrive early, which means – as the person there to ensure everything goes off without a hitch – I have to get there even earlier than they do. On a shoot day, I’ll arrive on location at around 5am, let the caterers in, work out where everyone will park, and set up signage. The rest of the crew start to arrive around 7am, by which point I should already be set up. It makes for a long day, but it’s worth it. Scouting days are different; they sometimes allow for a later start and have an entirely different vibe. While set days often work to a formula, scouting is a mixed bag – you can never be sure what you’ll get.

Two sides 

It’s nice to have the routine of a day on set, and to get stuck in. There’s definitely a lot more creative input on scouting days, but the two sides of the job each have their perks. On set, I’m the first one there – laying protective coverings and ensuring the owner’s belonging are safe – and the last one to leave, after making sure everyone is happy. When I’m scouting, the days can be more unpredictable. It’s surprisingly easy to switch between the two responsibilities, though, as I enjoy both aspects.

An in-built guidance system

Google is extremely useful. I don’t know how location scouts found anywhere before the internet, especially when just starting out. Over time, I’ve developed a kind of built-in mental guidance system, and am more aware of different spaces and their restrictions – I’ve also created a contact list of useful people to talk to when a certain space is needed, which is important. There’s a lot of research and admin to finding a location, and there can be let downs – there’s no point setting your heart on somewhere that fits the brief looks wise but can’t fit the crew, for example. Mainly, though, it’s exciting. I go and seek out possible locations, and then it can be as simple as knocking on someone’s door and saying ‘hello, we’d be interested in using your house for a shoot.’

Film set vs reality

The most important aspect of my day to day role is delivering what the director/ photographer/ agency wants, whilst at the same time making logistics work. It’s my job to make sure the film world (the crew) works with the real world (everyone else) in a way that lets everyone get what they want and need. It’s also important that locations are left as we found them, and relationships are kept on track. Sometimes location owners need a bit of hand-holding as they may be new to the industry and not sure what to expect. I must do everything in my power to make sure there is nothing but good feelings when we leave.

A mobile workspace

Being a Location Manager can get lonely, but it also opens doors to meeting a lot of different people. That’s one of my favourite parts of the job. It’s interesting to get to know so many characters from all walks of life and to travel so much while doing it. The Locate team are a great bunch to work with, too, everyone is happy to lend a hand if needed. On scouting days, I’m generally on my own – my car is my office.

Powered by adrenaline

Before I worked in locations, I had no idea this type of role even existed. When I learned about this line of work my basic reaction was ‘no way! That sounds cool!’ … and it is. It can be exhausting but it’s a great job. I really think you have to be an adrenaline junkie to do it, though. There are really long days, and I sometimes find myself thinking I need a rest, only to then immediately begin pondering/planning the next assignment. I love it. It’s a great feeling seeing the work come together, and to watch TV and be able to say ‘I worked on that!’

 

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Thinking of becoming a shoot location owner?

Have you ever found yourself wondering about the houses you see on screen, or in your favourite magazine? ‘Where do they find them?’ ‘Is it just a set, or an actual home?’ At Locate, we use real houses owned by real people for our shoots, and are always open to discovering new locations to add to our location library. Have a read of our blog post on the subject or contact us now: 020 7978 1688 or email: locate@locateproductions.com