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10 location managers sound off

Global Locations Report 2012

Chris Baugh
Home: L.A.
Days on the road in typical year: 180
Recent projects: “We Bought a Zoo,” “Bad Teacher,” “Angels & Demons,” “Secretariat”
Now working on: Untitled Wally Pfister project.
Staying cool under pressure: “You have to cling to logic when you’re feeling fight or flight. There’s always a solution; you just have to take one step at a time and keep going till you find it.”
Favorite locations: “Natural beauty and small towns. Scouting mountaintops in Utah for ‘Inception’ was amazing, and I love Venice, Italy.”
Least favorite: “Any place where you have to deal with government bureaucracy and red tape. It can make filming so frustrating and the regulations often defy logic.”
Biggest challenge ever: “On ‘Argo’ I had to find locations in L.A. that matched Iran in the ’70s. That was very tough, but we did it and you’d never know it was LA.”

Bill Bowling
Home: L.A.
Days on the road in typical year: 7 months
Recent projects: “Jupiter Ascending,” “Cloud Atlas,” consultant on “Transformers 3,” “Hangover 2”
Now working on: “The Asian Film Commission Network and developing international production (in the region).”
Staying cool under pressure: “I started doing this back in 1978 so nothing surprises me anymore. I just try and stay away from messy, difficult situations and keep it all in perspective. It’s just a movie, so you do the best you can and then move on. “
Favorite locations: “The Badlands of South Dakota, New Mexico and Thailand. All beautiful places.”
Least favorite: “L.A. – it’s just so hard shooting there. And the Amazon – I never want to go back. It’s too humid, and you have all the snakes and insects.”
Biggest challenge ever: “Shooting in the real Pentagon in 2000 for ‘Hollow Man.’ We got turned down three times and finally got permission. You just have to be very, very persistent and never take no for an answer.”

Antonin Depardieu
Home: Paris
Days on the road in typical year: 250
Recent projects: “Les Miserables,” “360,” “Midnight in Paris,” “Hugo”
Now working on: “Smurfs 2”
Staying cool under pressure: “To be surrounded by a good crew and to harass them with the details.”
Favorite locations: “Place de la Concorde in Paris during a summer sunrise when it is empty of cars, with its shiny obelisk and working fountains.”
Least favorite: “The Same location at 6 p.m. when it’s full of cars and people.”
Biggest challenge ever: “Getting permits and organizing a shoot with a pharaoh boat on the Red Sea in Egypt. And on ‘Midnight in Paris’ we had to shoot a night scene with Carla Bruni, wife of our former president Nicolas Sarkozy. Her husband (who was then president) came discreetly to the set. Most of the crew didn’t notice him. I set up him on the terrace of a nearby restaurant with a headset and he stayed until the shoot ended. You could hear a pin drop because all the area was locked down by security forces.”

Douglas Dresser
Home: L.A.
Days on the road in typical year: 200+
Recent projects: “The Hunger Games,” “Friends with Benefits,” “Mission Impossible 3.”
Now working on: “After Earth”
Staying cool under pressure: “Pressure is a big part of the job and you face challenges – heat, wind, poisonous snakes and so on – on locations. You really need to have the right DNA for this job, and I do. I’ve been doing this 15 years. The reality of the business now is that you’re far from home (much of the time). I have a family and two young kids I really miss when I’m away, so I try and bring them with me whenever possible.”
Favorite locations: “Anywhere in Mexico. The crews are great, the people are wonderful and the beaches are fabulous.”
Least favorite: “Deserts are always tough. It’s 98 degrees here in Moab today. But you can find beauty in the harshest places.”
Biggest challenge ever: “When I did ‘Phone Booth’ with Joel Schumacher, we shot the entire film in one downtown L.A. location and I had to shut down three whole blocks right before Christmas. I wasn’t very popular.”

Caleb Duffy
Home: L.A.
Days on the road in typical year: 300
Recent projects: “The Artist,” “Thor,” “Hitchcock,” “Hit and Run.”
Now working on: “Liberace: Behind the Candelabra”
Staying cool under pressure: “When faced with some of the challenges that come our way, your initial instinct is to explode. It’s just impossible and there’s not enough time. So I always stop and take an internal break and breathe to help process the request, and then take a cool, reasonable look at what’s needed. And I have a great team.”
Favorite locations: “In L.A. I love the Bradbury Building downtown, and there’s a room on the third floor of the Ebell Club with a green and black checkered floor and a slanting ceiling and the light is just amazing. In Cincinnati there’s an area with all these apartments around a park where we shot ‘Traffic,’ and the way all the fire escapes lined up was just magical to me.”
Least favorite: “The Los Angeles River. It’s always got a lot of human waste, it’s not very pleasant and you really need an escort when you go there. And deserts are always tough, with all the heat and wind and grit.”
Biggest challenge ever: “We were doing a four-block driving grid in Hancock Park for ‘The Artist,’ and it got moved up in the schedule by two weeks. So we had to prep it early and remove 120 street signs and all visual cues that weren’t period. Usually that takes three weeks. We had 24 hours.”

Mike Fantasia
Home: L.A.

Days on the road in typical year: Up to 200
Recent projects: “The Amazing Spider-Man,” “Green Hornet,” “3:10 to Yuma”
Now working on: “Look of Love”
Staying cool under pressure: “I try to remember it’s just a movie. We’re not curing cancer or the ills of poverty. I take it very seriously but you have to keep it in perspective. And you just can’t lose your cool. I hire the best people.”
Favorite locations: “Anything rural. I love mountains, desert, forests. We shot ‘Yuma’ in New Mexico and despite the difficult conditions and access, it was so beautiful.”
Least favorite: “Downtown L.A.. Over the past decade it’s become far more gentrified so you have to deal with more residents and greedy business owners. The movie business may be based here, but it’s far easier to shoot in Manhattan.”
Biggest challenge ever: “On ‘Seabiscuit’ we ran into extreme weather at every location. When we shot at Saratoga we had to reschedule as the track was frozen over – in September! Then we got hit by a tornado in Kentucky and more problems in California. The whole shoot was a challenge.”

Ilt Jones
Home: L.A.
Days on the road in typical year: 180
Recent projects: “The Dark Knight Rises,” “Inception,” “Transformers” franchise.
Now working on: “Iron Man 3”
Staying cool under pressure: “I got great advice years ago – be like a duck, serene on the surface but kicking madly underneath to keep it all moving. Luckily I’m good under pressure and in a crisis, which happens twice a day. The worse it gets, the calmer I am. You have to be a jack of all trades with a very diverse skill set, and it helps to have a high-end crew who know what they’re doing.”
Favorite locations: “The White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico where we shot ‘Transformers.’ Gorgeous, beautiful. Wadi Rum, the south Jordan desert used in ‘Lawrence of Arabia,’ where we shot ‘Transformers 2,’ and Petra. And Prague, where I spent 14 months on ‘Hellboy.'”
Least favorite: “Washington D.C., as it’s so restricted, and night shoots in downtown L.A.”
Biggest challenge ever: “Shutting down the center of Chicago for ‘Transformers 3’ for six days. We had great cooperation from the mayor and police, but that was tough.”

Ed Lipscomb
Home: Shreveport
Days on the road in typical year: 50
Recent projects: “The Expendables,” “G.I. Joe: Retaliation,” “Battle: Los Angeles”
Now working on: “Beautiful Creatures”
Staying cool under pressure: “Experience helps a lot. I don’t get nearly as stressed as I did when I began this job 21 years ago. You have to appear calm and the key is having a great team around you. I have six people I can really rely on.”
Favorite locations: “(We shut) down I-45 in Shreveport for five weeks while we built freeways to match the ones in LA. I got the head of the Louisiana DOT to sign off because he knew me.”
Least favorite: “(The town of) Uncertain, Texas, where we shot ‘Shark Night.’ The mayor and local council members all tried to extort money from us and hold up the shoot.”
Biggest challenge ever: “Doing ‘Speed’ and shooting all those scenes on the real runways at LAX for four weeks. We had to coordinate with every airline, the tower and the police. It was pre-911 – you’d never get permission now.”

Michael John Meehan
Home: St. Helena, Calif.
Days on the road in typical year: 200+
Recent projects: “Battleship,” “The Way Back,” “Narnia,” “Pirates 2 & 3,” “Master & Commander”
Now working on: “Oblivion”
Staying cool under pressure: “I try and remember two things. First, it’s only a movie. A bag of popcorn and a soda and it’s over. Second, after 30 years, I’ve seen it before — twice.”
Favorite locations: Galapagos. “The adventure of a lifetime. I still can’t believe it happened to me.”
Least favorite: “The Bahamas, the land of the extended palm.”
Biggest challenge ever: “The Galapagos. It is illegal to shoot a commercial film there unless it’s educational, scientific or research-based. It took months and many meetings in Quito to convince the Ecuadorian Government to allow us the chance to prove ourselves. I thank them every time I see a picture of an iguana.”

Janice Polley
Home: Toronto
Days on the road in typical year: 50
Recent projects: “Pirates of the Caribbean 4,” “The Taking of Pelham 123,” “Unstoppable”
Now working on: “The Lone Ranger”
Staying cool under pressure: “Probably a lot of people don’t think I do stay cool. Basically you have to take it one step at a time. There are always problems that seem insurmountable, but it always gets done and months later you walk away. The main thing is to keep a sense of humor or it’ll drive you crazy. I’ve worked a lot with Tony Scott and Michael Mann and they’re both so visual but often forget how to deal with the real world. When we did ‘Heat,’ Michael needed a scene at the LAX radar towers, but permission was canceled after the Unabomber sent a threatening letter. We finally got it reinstated, and this was before 911, so you can imagine the problems today.”
Favorite locations: “Maputo, Mozambique, where we shot ‘Ali.’ They’d never had any kind of filming there, and the civil war had just ended, and everyone was so warm and welcoming.”
Least favorite: “Any place after more than 2 weeks – you’ve already overstayed your welcome.”
Biggest challenge ever: “For a scene in ‘Collateral’ Mann wanted this particular rooftop in downtown L.A., which was owned by the Secret Service. Despite all our calls and requests, it was denied. I eventually wrote to the head of the Secret Service in D.C. Again, no, but I kept pursuing it until they finally agreed. Perseverance is crucial in this job.”

Global Locations Report 2012
Shoot pro rewrites rules | Digital changes for good and bad | Org releases own app | 10 location managers sound off

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