Spurned and ignored during the lengthy awards season that ended with the Oscars, Ben Stiller’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” (above) finally scored a big win as outstanding location feature at the first annual Location Managers Guild of America awards on Saturday night at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills.
HBO’s “Game of Thrones” took the prize for outstanding location TV program. In addition, “Thrones” location manager Robbie Boake won the trophy for outstanding achievement by a location pro-TV.
“Mitty” shot in Iceland, New York, Los Angeles and Vancouver. “Thrones” shoots in Northern Ireland, Croatia, Morocco, Malta and other locations.
The prize for achievement by a location pro-film went to location manager Ilt Jones for “Iron Man 3,” which filmed in North Carolina, California and Florida.
Location managers David Doumeng and Charlie Love took home the commercials prize for a Nike spot, and the kudo for outstanding film commission went to the Albuquerque, N.M., film commission for its work in facilitating the production of “Breaking Bad” and “Lone Survivor.”
LMGA gave cinematographer Haskell Wexler (“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf?,” “Bound for Glory”) its humanitarian award, present by Billy Crystal. Wexler, who received two standing ovations, has long been a strong advocate for crew safety and renewed his call for responsible filmmaking following the recent accidental death in Georgia of camera assistant Sarah Jones.
Motion Picture Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs presented LMGA’s Eva Monley Award to director Alexander Payne, who is currently filming on location and appeared via video. Payne eschews soundstages and shoots all his films almost entirely on location.
Location scout Scott Dewees received the lifetime achievement award for his work in commercials, presented by actress Jackie Joseph. Sheri Davis, director of the Inland Empire Film Commission, received the Trailblazer Award from LMGA prexy Nancy Haecker. Additional presenters included producer Harry Bring (who said he helped Sarah Jones get started when he hired her as an intern), actress Shari Belafonte and George Davis, president of the Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI).
Haecker presided over the exuberant crowd. Comedian Jamie Kaler served as host, eliciting multiple laughs. About 450 LMGA members and industry execs attended the event, which was only recently established by the 10-year-old org to honor the contributions of location managers and scouts, who often feel that despite their essential role in production they’re not sufficiently recognized by the industry.
“We’re buried in the credits,” said Rick Schuler, location manager on “Nebraska,” at a panel at the AFCI Locations Trade Show panel Saturday morning. “Lots of people don’t understand what our role is.”
That misunderstanding is exactly what the LMGA Awards were designed to correct, per LMGA awards chair Tony Salome. “That’s what this show is all about,” he said. “We want to bring more recognition to locations professionals and to raise their profile.”