Location mavens get day in the sun

California on Location Awards held this week

Location, location, location is the oft-heard bellwether to describe top real estate. It can also make the difference between a good shoot and a great one.

With this in mind, the 13th annual California on Location Awards (COLAs), hosted by Gary Collins, were awarded this week. The ceremony, held at the Pacific Palms Conference Resort in the City of Industry, was broadcast live for the first time on www.NiFTy-tv.com/cola.

Curtis Collins was named top location professional for features. He had to juggle simultaneous shoots that affected LAX, the Imperial Highway and the 105 Freeway for “Live Free or Die Hard.”

DreamWorks’ 27-member team for “Transformers” took the honor for production company/location team for features. Ilt Jones, supervising location manager for the team, singled out Film L.A. for its continuing ability to mediate between the film and non-pro worlds.

Jones thanked the staff of Film L.A., singling out Steve McDonald and Amy Lemisch of the California Film Commission. “This film would not have been shot in Los Angeles without their help,” Jones said. “I think this is the first time a winning team on stage is larger than the audience.”

Special thanks were also given to Michael Bay and Ian Bryce, who fought to keep the production in California.

“CSI: NY,” which is shot in Los Angeles, required exterior and interior locations resembling New York that couldn’t be used more than once. Honors went to Tim Hillman as location professional for television. Hillman won a second award with his team CBS Prods.: “CSI: NY” for production company/location team for episodic television.

Reality TV garnered its own first-time category at the awards, with Beyond Prods. winning the production company/location team for reality television for “Mythbusters.” Their explosions ultimately set the hills on fire and also served as training for the Calabasas Fire Dept.

Federal, state, county and city employees were also recognized for their efforts in cutting through the bureaucratic roadblocks facing film and TV productions.

Larry Blaine from Barstow BLM took the federal employee prize; Jake Martinez of Caltrans — District 11 took the state award; San Bernardino County Fire’s Ron Avanzolini got the county kudo for continuing to work from home on “Iron Man” after back surgery and a stroke. City honors went to Joyce Garay of the city of San Francisco, who retired after completing her last job for Conan O’Brien.

Teamsters Local 399 boasted winners in two categories: Mandi Dillin won assistant location manager for features for “Iron Man,” while Adam Robinson of “CSI: Miami” won assistant location manager for television.

The commercials individual kudo went to Patrick Ranahan for turning San Francisco into a Pepsi pinball machine. Anonymous Content’s Toyota Tundra group won the commercials team trophy.

Honors for stills went to Denise Collins of the Weather Channel in the individual category, and Portfolio One — Vogue and Vanity Fair, for team.

Sheri Davis, director Inland Empire Film Commission and COLA co-chair, thanked co-chairs Janice Arrington, director of the Orange County Film Commission; and Pauline East, director of the Antelope Valley Film Commission, as well as sponsors, production crew and volunteers for help in making the awards show possible.

Nancy Haecker, supervising location manager with River Road Entertainment/Paramount Vantage/Art Linson Prods. summed up a location professional’s mantra with her quip: “I’m on my knees and ready to please.”