Location manager

Location Manager

The location manager finds and secures locations for the film shoot. It’s a head of department job role that has a big impact on the film’s overall look and feel. 

You can make a film in various locations, from deserts to forests and studios. Not only does the location manager find these places, but ensures that they are safe and within budget. They will also work closely with the director and other visual teams. 

On this page, you can find a complete location manager job description. We’ll also discuss the job role skills, education, pay, and work route options.

What is a Location Manager?

The location manager researches and secures the best locations for a movie. They will work with a team to scout and figure out the logistics for filming. It’s important that the sites are safe and have signed permission from the landowners.

During filming, the location manager watches over the location. They ensure that the locations are looked after and clean. In addition, they will find solutions if there are any location problems. Lastly, they return each location in the same condition as they found it.

What Does a Location Manager Do?

location manager on set holding clapperboard

The location manager is the head of the locations department. They have a mix of job roles throughout prep and filming. One of their main tasks is to find locations and lead their team. Other duties include researching, taking photographs and organizing recces. 

They work with various film crew such as the director and production designer. It’s not only a leadership role but a highly creative one. A location must also be practical, within budget, and match the director’s vision. In other words, they need to find a way to bring the fictional world to the screen.

Location managers also work during filming, watching the film set and making sure it is safe. Like all film crew roles, this is a self-employed position that will require long work hours. In this next section, we will break down the job role for each filming stage.

Location Manager Job Description

The location manager begins their work in early pre-production. First, they read the script, note locations, and search for available sites. They also consider the art design, storyboards, and the director’s wishes before they hire the locations. 

A location recce is when the crew visits a site to see if it is a good fit for the film. There are many recces throughout pre-production, including a tech recce with the DOP and key grip. The locations need to have a power source, room for car parking, and trailers. In addition, the site needs to be quiet, especially if the scene has dialogue. 

Pre-production Duties

To begin with, the location manager will read the screenplay and make a complete script breakdown. They will also look over any storyboards or art design. During the planning stage, there will be many meetings with the director. Then they will find and secure the locations, paying attention to the budget, filming plan, and director’s vision. 

  • Create a script breakdown
  • Attend meetings with visual departments 
  • Find locations and conduct recces
  • Secure sites with the location owner 

Production Duties

During filming, the location manager is always on set. They ensure that everything goes to plan and lead their team. They must also look after, clean and return sites in the same condition. Another task is to watch over the health and safety of the crew. Lastly, they thank each location owner after filming. 

  • Head of the location’s team 
  • Look after the locations during filming
  • Keep location owners and the public happy
  • Return the site in the same condition

Education and Skills

university graduate wearing a mortar board

The location manager is the head of the location department. You don’t need a degree to work in this department, but you will need full filmmaking knowledge. There are lots of courses available that can teach the basics of film production. 

Many people start their careers as location scouts or production assistants. You will also need a driving license, photography, and teamwork skills. It’s important to learn what makes a good location for filming and how to secure it legally. 

This job is very social and requires talking to a mix of people, including the general public. Other skills include health, safety, and filming laws. Finally, it would help if you had an eye for design and landscapes. 

  • Full filmmaking knowledge
  • Driving license, photography
  • Teamwork and leadership
  • Location health and safety
  • A keen eye for detail 

Location Manager Career Route

The location manager can work across film and TV. The typical career path is to start at the bottom of the ladder and work up to high job roles. To begin with, the entry-level job roles in the location department are runner and location trainee. If you can’t find an initial film placement, the job has a lot in common with live events work (music festivals, show tours).

You might need work experience before applying for a paid position. Many filmmakers begin their careers by working on student and low-budget films. It’s also possible to start out as a location manager on low budgets and work up to higher budget film sets. Although, you will still need to network in the industry and get to know film producers.

Location Manager Salary

The day rate of all film industry crew members depends on the project type and budget. So, you get less pay for a low-budget indie film than for a high-end TV project. If you look at our crew rates you can see how the rates change depending on budget and job role. Of course, your pay will also take into account your personal experience. 

The location manager is a head of department role, and you will get paid more on union projects. The location managers guild has a starting day rate of $450. So, for the average 6-day work week, you make at least $2,700. However, you can still ask for more based on the job and your experience.

Finding Work

At the start of your career, you can find entry-level jobs on film job sites. The entry-level job roles for a location manager are location assistant or runner. You might also find work placements as a location trainee or even as a location team driver. 

Another route is to start working on low-budget film sets within the role. That way, you can learn the job role through hands on practice and work up to higher budgets. Even so, you must learn all elements of the job role, including filming law and safety practices.

US 🇺🇸UK 🇬🇧
Entertainment CareersScreenSkills Jobs
Entertainment Careers advertises jobs in the film and TV industry across the US. It specializes in work for production companies in the Los Angeles region. Their website makes it easy to narrow down your search by job type, experience level, media sector, and location.ScreenSkills is a charity that provides industry news, training and resources for the UK film industry. As well as, having regular training opportunities they also now have a jobs board for professional production positions.

Wrapping Up

To sum up, the location manager is a creative and social job role. You will need to learn a variety of practical skills to do well in this role. Importantly, the location manager must know what a film set needs when hiring a location.

This career is a good match for someone who enjoys working outdoors, interacting with people, and has an eye for detail. Keep in mind, like all head of departments, it takes time to get into major film sets within this job role. However, you will find that once people trust you in this role, they will ask you back continuously for work.

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