Location Managers Guild International

Spring 2019

The Location Managers Guild International (LMGI) is the largest organization of Location Managers and Location Scouts in the motion picture, television, commercial and print production industries. Their membership plays a vital role in the creativ

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Photo courtesy of Hatfield House This is the case with one of Tom's favorite locations: Eltham Palace, once owned by eccentric textile millionaires, who did a time-tripping Art Deco renovation—with air raid shelter—to what had been a medieval palace. (And, yes, Henry VIII lived there too. "It's where he met Anne Boleyn," adds location manager Jane Soans, LMGI. "And why we're not Catholic.") The Art Deco interior recently underwent a £1.7 million restoration and will soon be featured in Misbehavior (2020) with Keira Knightley and Greg Kinnear as Bob Hope. The story takes place during the 1970 Miss World beauty pageant and, remarkably, it can be more difficult to find a decent mid-century than a King James drawing room in London. "A few years ago," says Tom, "I had to find a cool seventies house and it took ages to locate because they're getting knocked down left and right. People buy one of these carbuncles and say, 'Now I've just got to flatten it and build something glossy and modern.'" For Misbehavior, Tom was once again "struggling" to nail down something with a vintage Los Angeles vibe when he and designer Cristina Casali thought: Why not put them in an Art Deco house that Bob Hope might have fancied? Fortunately, Eltham Palace remains unflattened and is now protected by English Heritage, one of two UK "charities" entrusted with preserving Britain's past. English Heritage cares for 400 historic monuments like Hadrian's Wall and is famous for its prominent "London Blue Plaques" which say things like Luke Howard: Namer of Clouds Lived Here. The other nonprofit—the National Trust—oversees 250 historical buildings, 500,000 acres of farmland and 700 miles of coastline, including the Giant's Causeway, White Cliffs of Dover, and "all the beaches you see on Poldark" boasts Harvey Edgington, Head of Filming and Locations at the Trust Film Office. Fun fact: the two charities share "custody" of Stonehenge. "We look after the henge and English Heritage looks after the stones," Harvey likes to say. The National Trust has existed for close to 125 years, originally to preserve land in the face of suburban sprawl. "There was a huge expansion between the wars," explains Harvey, "due to an inheritance tax as we tried to pay for the First World War. A lot of people who would have inherited land didn't come back from the trenches. And those who did, could find better paying jobs in the city." In the end, many landed families "found themselves in a perilous state." The solution: not pay the massive tax and leave the property to the National Trust for future generations to enjoy. Their film office fields 100 to 250 inquiries a month. "Some of these we head off at the pass," says Harvey. "We were asked to do Transformers at Stonehenge and they wanted tanks and explosions. 'This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site—it's not going to happen!' The producers probably knew this 'deep down,'" he chuckles, but "they like to ask." Still, out of all of those inquiries, "I'd say 70 percent of them get converted"—a remarkable success rate. Like most UK location managers, Tom Howard has worked with both organizations, but enjoys the one-on-one from dealing direct. "You can talk to the owner of the picture on the wall, and say, 'lovely picture of your great-great-grandfather, but it's the wrong period. Mind if we take it down?' And they'll say, 'Yeah, fine, we take it down all the time.'" Still, he sometimes meets "local resistance," which results in conversations like: "Beautiful room, but can we pick that rug up?" Absolutely no way! "Oh, can we walk on the rug?" No! So, actually, we can't shoot in this room, is that what you're trying to say? "Some houses have been fire bombed, stood through two civil wars, the Dissolution of the Monasteries … and they're still standing, so, you can't really do an awful lot of damage," admits Tom. The owner of one residence turned to Tom and said, "Well, it's still here after seven hundred years so barring the odd scratch, I don't think it's going to fall down after you've been here." "Of course," Tom is quick to add, "there are things that are irreparable, you do have to look after it. You give everybody a list and say, 'These are the house rules. Don't put your hot cup of tea on that table and if it's got a cover on it, don't take the cover off!'" Tom has found that most crews are quite respectful and "very good these days at looking after delicate locations." "There's the odd accident, just as in day-to-day life," concurs Pat. "But we never take our eye off the ball. And the crews tend to behave impeccably." One of the crown jewels of historic UK estates is Hatfield House, where such cinematic luminaries as King Lear, Victor Frankenstein, An aerial view of Hatfield House.

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