Ever dreamt of visiting somewhere you have seen in a film? You are not alone, in fact over a quarter of us say that films influence where we want to go on holiday and 36% have added destinations to our ‘bucket lists’ immediately after watching a film.
With this news we wanted to find out more about how location scouts and managers actually find the perfect settings for the films they work on and is their job as enviable as we think it to be, can endless travelling around exotic destinations to find the perfect backdrop really be that hard…?
We got the lowdown from freelance location manager, Georgette Turner, who has been in the job for over 12 years now and worked on some incredible titles including Harry Potter, Mission Impossible, Jungle Book and Wonder Woman.
Q: How did you become a location manager?
I was an extra on a Woody Allen film when I noticed lots of security around that I hadn’t thought about before, so I went up to one of them and asked how I could get a job with them. The response was ‘We don’t have women in our department’ so I kind of hounded them until they gave me a job! The security managers work as part of the location manager’s team so I worked my way up the ladder.
Q: Is it a dream job?
It has its moments and keeps you on your toes but it takes you places you never imagined you’d get to, so yes it is an incredible job and I do feel very lucky.
But for people who are thinking of a career in the industry, they must be prepared for long days, being outdoors in all the elements and sometimes not in the most glamorous locations.
Q: What are you looking for when you are given a script?
You get the script early on and know that certain things can and need to be built in the studio but then you look to open up the movie by getting out on the road, looking for an incredible landscape that has something unique or different about it that cannot be physically recreated. Given the cost of filming on location, it has to be something exceptional enough to get the Director and all the crew out to.
Q: What is the most challenging part of your job?
Lighting is critical when producing a film, and where possible directors want to use natural light, so when we are on location we don’t bring in much artificial lighting. When you see bright blue skies and beautiful, clear waters on screen, this is what you can expect when you visit the destination.
Our role is to look for the beautiful landscapes that have something extra that makes it stand out. When I think of Mamma Mia, I picture of the opening sequence in Greece and the waves crashing onto the beautiful rock formations and it makes me want to go there and sing Abba! No other location or set build could give you this.
Q: What have been some of the best places you have visited and why?
I love going to Italy, all the cities are close together and change drastically, but each one portrays the magic of what Italy is about. Whether you want a macho, manly holiday like something from The Italian Job, or see the breath-taking scenery in Tuscany where Gladiator was filmed or be a romantic at the Trevi fountain in Rome, there is so much to see.
Actually, if you want a romantic location, you can go to any of the major cities in Europe. You often think you need to travel far to get a beautiful landscape but I’m a big fan of Europe and think our cities are incredible. There are a lot of varied landscapes and fascinating architecture to discover, which makes it very easy to create your own love story in.
Q: Are there any films you have watched recently that have encouraged you to visit the locations they were set in?
I travelled to New York with my girlfriends after watching Sex and the City. We went on the tour and drank Cosmo’s in trendy bars. To create these moments with my close friends was magical and I won’t forget it. It’s these moments you watch in films, that you want to recreate with those you love.
Also, I really want to go to Thailand. It is a destination that I have seen in many films and I daydream of sunbathing on the idyllic beaches. It has been bumped up to the top of my travel bucket list.
Q: Are there any destinations that you have visited that has surprised you, and weren’t what you had expected?
I went to Berlin to work on a film called St. George’s Day, the city hadn’t been on my radar before, but I was absolutely blown away by the history, the cleanliness of the city, the friendly people and the food! It is an amazing place to visit and explore and I particularly enjoyed seeing the Brandenburg Gate, Reichstag and Fernsehturm. It is all fascinating.
Q: Why do you think so many people are influenced by locations that appear in movies?
Sometimes, us Brit’s don’t like change and prefer to stick with the familiar, which is where films come in handy. They help us develop a sense of familiarity towards a location which then gives us the confidence to go and visit the destination.
Also going on holiday is an escape from the ordinary, just like a movie. So when it is grey and cold outside, we daydream about being whisked away to somewhere beautiful to recreate our own story there.
When working on a film, location managers can spend up to a year researching and looking for the most picturesque destinations. So when viewers are watching a movie, they can be confident that what they see on screen is what they can expect in real life.
And perhaps one of the best parts of visiting a destination from one of your favourite films is when you re-watch a film and you have that proud moment to say, “I’ve been there!”