#14 - Drew Rhodes (Location Manager)


his episode we chat with location manager Drew Rhodes about all the ins and outs of securing and managing locations for film and TV. Drew has worked on a whole bunch of productions from both Australia and the US, including the features Animal Kingdom, My Year Without Sex, & I, Frankenstein, and TV shows The Pacific, It's a Date, House Husbands, Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, Twentysomething, and Satisfaction.

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Highlights From This Episode:

On what location management is all about:

“Really it’s initiating control over a space so that the crew can do what it needs to do, be that a larger crew with a big lighting setup or whatever is, or a much much smaller crew. So if you think of it in terms of control, that’s what we engineer. so, controlling sound. Trying not to find locations under flight paths, for example. The little practical things is what we do in order to make the space controlled enough to create a bubble. Basically, what we can do is create a bubble for the film crew to work in..."

On liaising with the public:

“Locations will smell bullshit artists a mile away, so you must never promise anything that you can’t deliver... The more honest you can be, the better it is.”

“The general public will not differentiate between what is a short film and what is a bigger feature film, if it comes down to the filming in their street... ”

“I read people and I read their responses to what I’m saying, and I gauge whether they will cope with the idea of having a whole lot of people they don't know coming into their house… Houses are always the trickiest in the way that it’s somebody’s private place, and you’ve got to be quite respectful of that...

“You also have to be able to absolutely walk away from the location even if it’s the perfect one... I have walked away from locations before, even though I know the director would have loved it, because I just don’t feel that the particular location will hold up, that the people there will simply not hold to what we’re about to do.”

On not "burning" locations:

“There is a finite amount of locations, believe it or not. And for certain locations, there’s only one or two of them... If you burn that location, that’s it, it’s burned. You can’t get it back. But then the next bugger that comes along and knocks on the door can’t get it either. So you really have to be incredibly careful not to burn them, and if you don’t tell them what’s going on that can burn them.”

On your responsibilities as a location manager:

“You know what, it can be about the creative as much as you like, but we also have to protect the location, protect our reputations, all of that sort of thing. So you’re balancing those two things constantly. Whether it’s a small job or a big one, the problems are actually exactly the same.”

“If we’re part of this industry, we have to care about how it is done. The days of cowboys and running around out there and shooting what the hell you want whenever the hell you want, and no safety, it’s gone. The world has moved away from that, and for bloody good reasons because people can get hurt in the film industry…”

On working with local councils:

“For young filmmakers, the biggest thing that you can do, and the councils love this… is just get in contact with them and tell them what you’ve got in mind… And they’ve also all got limited impact filming permits, which means you’ll have to pay very little or nothing to get say a short film shot in one of these councils, but what they would prefer is that they know about it.”

On the day to day life of a location manager:

“If you like to know what’s coming next in your day to day life, don’t do this for a living, because this feels like standing on shifting sands all day. You are standing on a sandhill and the sandhill just keeps moving, and that’s actually great. Once you get used to it, it’s really good.”

Chris Pahlow

Chris Pahlow is an independent writer/director currently in post-production on his debut feature film PLAY IT SAFE. Chris has been fascinated with storytelling since he first earned his pen license and he’s spent the last ten years bringing stories to life through music videos, documentaries, and short films.