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A Day in the Life of a Location Manager

Let’s explore the journey of a Location Manager with Drew Rhodes! If you follow our socials then you might recall Drew as one of our mentors for our new mentoring programme. As an extension of our Make It Conference from earlier this year, Drew is mentoring Bret Salinger in this field.

Drew has worked on an eclectic collection of works, both international and local. His credits include Halifax: Retribution, The Wrong Girl, and The Leftovers series 3. He's also a Production Services Director at 720 Production Services.

So, what do Location Managers do? Here's what Drew says:

1. Describe your typical day:

For a Location Manager, that varies quite a bit. I’m in Pre- Production at the moment so a day involves scouting, conducting location recces (editor's note: basically surveying the area) with Director and Production Designer, sorting photo files of location options as they come in from the other Scouts/Managers I’m working with on the film and negotiating with location providers and authorities. During shoot it will change to starting days early out on set before returning to the office, lots of emails and phone calls and running a department of 6-10 people to deal with the logistics, permits, parking, community liasion, budget etc.

2. Best bit about your job:

You have a role in the creative aspect as you directly influence the look of the film. No one day is the same and you never stop learning something new. I am privileged to step into areas that most people never get to see as we film all sorts of locations depending on the story we are telling. You meet some great people and go to some interesting places. It is very challenging, at times diabolically difficult, but not boring. It is freelance so it’s job-to-job but you get used to that.

A headshot of Drew Rhodes

3. How did you get to where you are?

By accident. I thought I wanted to be a Journalist when I left school (telling a story and communicating was important to me). Went to Uni for a week, decided it wasn’t for me at the time, started working as a lacky for a friend who was a Director in post on his first film. Didn’t get paid much. Did a few things in and out of the industry over the first 4 years or so. Thought I wanted to be a 1st AD. Not enough trainee AD jobs were around so I did one film as Assistant Location Manager. Loved it. Started location managing full time after that.

4. What skills and training do you need to do what you do?

No formal training. A willingness to work very hard, listen and ask questions as it takes years to learn the skills on the job. Must be a good communicator and be able to negotiate in high pressure and complex situations. You’ll need to speak to people from all walks of life. Empathy and a good sense of humour are essential.

5. Advice to someone thinking about the job:

The only way to know if it is for you is to give it a go. Seek advice from those that have been around the job for a while.

If you think about it, without Drew and others in this role, an essential element of your work will be missing. It really puts into perspective just how important all these different roles are in a production. Like a cog in a machine, your production won't work as well!

Curious about other roles? Tune in for next week's A Day in the Life!


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