What does a Location Manager do?
Also known as a Location Assistant or Location Scouts, these roles are crucial as they’ll be the ones identifying potential filming locations and securing the permissions to film.
Working with Assistant Directors and other department heads to determine requirements, the location team will take these necessities and research potential locations for filming. They may be finding a countryside mansion for a period drama, a busy high street for an action-thriller, or something simple like a suburban house that’s large enough for a filming crew. They’ll arrange visits to scout the facilities where they’ll take photographs and notes. They’ll also start initial discussions on securing permission to filming there, negotiating deals with the location owners and finding out the costs involved. They’ll draw up shortlist of locations and present these to the Director. After the production team indicates their preferences, the location team will open official negotiations and confirm contracts with the owners.
During the filming process, the location team will be on set to manage all aspects relating to the location. They’ll organise security, parking, power generation and catering, plus distribute notes to all cast and crew members so they know how to get to the set and what restrictions there may be – its common for stately homes to come with particular rules for the production to adhere to.
Finally, the location team will ensure the filming locations are cleaned thoroughly and returned to the owners in an acceptable condition.
What skills does a Location Manager need?
Researching: Naturally, a location manager must be good at finding potential filming locations. They’ll have an understanding for architecture, time periods and knowledges of landscapes.
Imagination: This is quite important as the location team will scout new filming places. They need to see past what is visible in its current form and be able to imagine how the production will decorate a set.
Negotiation: Being able to secure a good deal for the production is crucial. This doesn’t just apply on cost, but facilities that the location can provide and covering any potential loss of earnings (especially for businesses affected by filming).
Legal knowledge: A location team should have some understanding of laws surrounding public liability, public highway, health and safety.
Who does a Location Manager work with?
The Location Manager will work with the rest of the location team, often managing Location Assistants and Scouts, setting their workloads and assigning tasks.
At the start, Location Managers will work with the senior production team – Director, Heads of department – to draw up a list of required locations. However, the Location Manager will also work closely with the production team including Assistant Directors and Unit Managers during the filming process.
Finally, the location team will negotiate and remain in constant contact with the owners of filming locations. They’ll keep them up to date with the progress, highlighting any damage (which the production will repair) and potential delays to the schedule.
How to become a Location Manager?
The obvious route is securing a Location Trainee or Assistant role and working your way through the ranks.
However, the locations team is a popular area to work for those coming from outside of the media industry as the skills are highly transferable – negotiations, logistics and research. People will often come from live events and festivals, logistics and even the army.
How much does a Location Manager earn?
Like many roles in the media industry, pay rates can vary between a TV and film production. Below are several roles in the locations team and the hourly rates they can expect:
|Role||Film Hourly rate||TV Hourly rate|
|Location Manager||£35 – £38||£25 – £36|
|Location Scout||£25 – £33||£23 – £31|
|Location Assistant||£14 – £16||£15.75|
For further details, we recommend viewing BECTU’s pay rates for feature films and Television location teams.