Ben Carter - Location Manager


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ben carter- Location manager

What is it that a Location Managers does?

It’s a question that is often asked and on the whole once I’ve explained just what it is I do people are envious of the variety and surprised by the amount of prep required to ensure a shoot is done successfully. Below, I describe just one scene from a film and what is involved in making it happen...

“Our hero is being chased by gun waving baddies, driving fast through the city, dodging in and out of traffic. The hero attempts to escape his pursuers while overhead a helicopter follows. As he approaches a cross road the route is blocked. He ditches the car and steals a motor bike.  He gets to a famous lifting bridge in London, lights flash and gates start to close. Ignoring the lights and instructions from uniformed guards, our hero drives through the barriers and up the slope of the opening bridge before screeching to a halt with the bike unable to make it any further. Our hero has come to the end of the road... He jumps from the bridge into the water below and swims to a waiting speed boat which zooms away up the river to safety” What a relief!

The above scenario might involve the following:

Meetings and consultations with the Film Liaison Officers for the councils on both sides of the bridge and in this instance, The City of London who are responsible for the bridge itself and the PLA (Port of London Authority) who are responsible for the river. We would need to involve the Met Police; the River Police, the RNLI; the CAA (for permission for the helicopter) and the firearms unit and organise a series of site meetings to ascertain exactly what is possible and the best and safest way of obtaining the Director’s wishes. The filming will almost certainly need to take place on a Sunday and may well stretch over two or three weeks to get all the elements required for the sequence in-place.

Then comes the search for parking areas for all the equipment and vehicles that will be required for the filming. This is often street parking for up to 20 large vehicles, which parked end to end could be as much as 150 metres of parking. In addition there is a requirement for a Unit Base for caterers, make up and wardrobe vehicles, as well as artists vehicles and parking for the 60 odd technicians, stunt co-ordinators, supporting artists and other vehicles that need to be close by.

There is also the small matter of arranging road closures for the actual filming, organising the diversions and ensuring the correct signage is in place. The helicopter will need permission to fly over London and a place to land and re-fuel.

Then there are the letters to all the residents in the area, informing them of the filming and apologising for any inconvenience that may be caused by our actions. The point of contact for complaint is the Location Manager who will have to deal with the many possible problems that the filming may cause (parking problems and noise being the most likely).

On the day of filming, I am responsible for the smooth running of the location, allowing the film unit to complete its work. Often with me is the Locations team, an Assistant Location Manager and a Unit Manager, a Location runner and our security guards.

One of the most interesting parts of the job is the places that we get to see. From MOD sites, stately Homes, event sites to mines and underground passages and the homes of people you would never normally see. The scripts dictates what I look for but the joy is that no two scripts are the same so the list of possible locations is endless!


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