This time last week, we found ourselves on stage before an audience of industry professionals and future filmmakers giving a talk on location managing and scouting.

We were joined on stage by Head of the Met Police Film Unit; James Waller, who was on hand to explain his job role, and how the police can often need to be involved in productions, especially when any kind of weapons or uniforms are being used. He explained that the police don’t want to stop you or your production – they just need to be aware of what you’re doing in the interest of public safety. Just because you know that the person on your set is an actor in a costume with a fake gun – doesn’t mean passers by will, too. Having police involvement & permission from the outset makes life much easier for everybody, as opposed to dealing with the consequences of an armed response unit being sent out having received a call from a concerned member of the public wondering why there are people on the street carrying or using weapons.

Waller explained the importance of his job and police involvement with any production, no matter what scale. He explained that it is often the smaller productions, in particular student projects that can end in trouble. He explained “…if you are shooting something quite gritty, in the east end of London in a multi-story car park, you might have a crew of just one or two people. It’s not going to be particularly obvious to people what is going on; they might not see the small crew and just see two people waving guns around…whereas on a project such as ‘The Edge of Tomorrow’ – there’s hundreds of people there, the areas blocked off, it should be pretty obvious to most people what is going on”.

On the subject of “The Edge of Tomorrow”, we also spoke about how the Trafalgar Square shoot came to be, where we began and who we spoke to in order to make that idea a reality. We also explained some of the challenges that arose when trying to organise it – for example arranging the diversion of some 70+ bus routes that travel through the square, as well as getting all of the local businesses & authorities involved and on-board too. From dealing with the Mayor’s office (who own/operate Trafalgar Square), the dropping letters into all of the locals informing them of what was going on, to arranging for an RAF Puma Helicopter to fly in, no CGI, land, and for Tom Cruise to step out and walk through the square. Of course, when you’re filming a helicopter, you need – you guessed it -another helicopter to film the helicopter. We had to arrange somewhere for the choppers to land when the weren’t in use, and repeatedly bring the Puma in and out of the square take after take for the 3 hours that we had to get the shots that were required.

We spoke in some detail about what the role of a location manager really is, and all of the jobs that you have to be able to do under the banner of working in the location department. You have to be a toilet attendant, removal man, prison warden and restaurant critique, be able to think on your feet, and be prepared for any eventuality.

Finally, we took questions from the audience, time was quite limited, but we managed to speak to a few people. Some people had questions about routes into the industry, and how we did it – others wanted to know our favourite locations to use in London & the surrounding areas.

Overall, the event was good fun, we got to catch up with some familiar faces, and also met some new ones, too. The event gave us a chance to speak face to face with some great people, and it’s a great way of promoting ourselves and our company.

Remember, we work on projects of all shapes and sizes, and are happy to work with new clients wherever and whenever we can. Whatever your location needs may be, get in touch and we’ll do our very best to assist you.

Find out more about the Met Police Film Unit here