Art Director, Location Scout & Location Manager Jobs

Updated on February 6, 2019
Kenna McHugh profile image

Kenna worked on many productions as PA, Craft Services, Talent Scout, Grip, and Producer. Credits include Bowling for Columbine, Wallace.

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Art Director to Location Scouts and Location Managers

What does an art director do? A location scout do? A location manager do?

Anyone these jobs interest you in having a career in film?

Read on and let me know your thoughts on being an art director, location scout or location manager. All three jobs place you right in the film industry – right on the set working with the producer and director.

Location Scout

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Location Scouting a True Art Form

Location scouts or location managers work with the art director and director to find the ideal location for a particular shot in a scene of a movie. Location scouts get hired early in the pre-production phase of the making movie.

Nathan works all over the world as a location scout. "You are trying to interpret the script while finding the right location that can make all the difference in the movie."

He makes the director’s job easy because he finds the environment suitable for the story. A location scout finds the house for the perfect location to shoot the scene. It makes all the difference in the world to be a sharp and intuitive as a location scout.

Ingenuity of the Location Scout

While it's true that the art director and director get all the credit, it all starts with the ingenuity of the location scout. The location scout will find the location for the director and then get the director's approval. Usually, when the film goes into production, the location scout will switch hats and become the location manager.

Location Scout Salary

A location scout is a glamorous job, but the pay is not all that great. On the average, a location scout, who is an all independent contractor, makes around 52 thousand a year in the Los Angeles area. In New York, a good location scout will make around 67 thousand a year. In San Francisco, a decent scout will make 66 thousand a year. Location scouts who work for a production company will make about half of what an independent contractor, but working for a production company guarantees a steady paycheck.

Do Location Scouts Travel?

Some report on the Internet that location scouts travel around the world. If they work for a production company, of course, that could be true. But, most location scouts work in the area they live. If they are independent contractors, they work the region near them home. One particular scout works the Northern California area and rarely travels. He only traveled if a former client asked him to scout for production outside of his jurisdiction, but that was very rare. Financially, it is easier for a production company to hire a local scout because he or she knows the area.

There are times when a production company cannot hire a local scout because one is not available in the area. Then, it would make sense to hire one the company has worked with before since they have an established rapport and work ethic.

Scout to Manager

Some location scouts stay with the production after scouting and become the location manager for the production. The reason for this is because a lot of times a location scout will help with permits and other city regulations for the production even before the production starts filming. Since the location scout is familiar with the locations and permits, it makes sense that the production company keeps them on the payroll.

The location manager handles all the logistics of using the location, such as permits and approval from local governments. Whenever problems arise on location, it's the location manager's responsibility to handle them. Such things that could arise are noise control or crowd control. Even when the electricity goes out, the location manager quickly remedies the problem. He or she is responsible for making sure so filming can continue at that location – because time is money in film production.

Being a location manager is a bit tense at times. Nathan is an independent contractor, and he has a lot of freedom. “I am pretty much my own boss.”

Robin Mounsey - How a Location Manager Worked on Tough Terrain

Production Designer Works with Original Location

Mark Putland talks about designing and building a replicate Winchester house in on the Melbourne set. Putland went to the original Winchester House in San Jose, California to shoot some exteriors and interiors. Then, he went back to Melbourne and pretty much rebuilt the set to film the bulk of the movie there. Watch Putland's interview and learn how he researched to make sure the production design was authentic.

Art Directors Interpret the Script with Production Designers

Art directors work closely with the production designer. Together they design the physical environment of the film set. Their job is to create the mood the script dictates to the director.

Art directors supervise many different people in the production, such as illustrators, scenic designers, model makers, carpenters, painters, and electricians, laborers, set decorators, costume designers, animal makers, and makeup and hairstyling artists.

Art Directors are Architects

Art directors are architects or come up the ranks of theater designers or set designers. It is not uncommon to hear how an art director favored carpentry or stagecraft in school. They mold any area and turn it into what gives life to the characters and energy to the story. They take an exterior location of a building and match an interior of the same building on a soundstage.

They stay on top of the latest techniques for creating any visual look the producer, director, or production designer needs for the success of the movie.

Richard Bridgland Production Designer for The Commuter Shares a Special Moment

What Do You Think?

Which job would you like on a film production?

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Theater, Film, TV Jobs

Any one of these positions provides an entry to the motion picture industry whether it is in a major city or a production shooting on location. From these positions, you can move up to being an art director, production designer, or even a director.

Many begin these jobs in theater productions and move to film and television, and then move back and forth between the stage, film, and television. For these people, happiness is working in the entertainment field and making a living at what they like to do best—create an environment that helps tell a story and make it real for the audience.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

    © 2007 Kenna McHugh

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