Location Managers Guild International

Spring 2020

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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28 • LMGI COMPASS | Spring 2020 Fortune came calling soon after. Lee got called in to drive for a director's scout and while on that job, the location manager and director marveled at the fact that Lee never got lost. "They were very impressed that they could just say, 'take us to city hall,' and nobody had to give me turn-by-turn directions. I just knew how to get places," Lee said. Before long, he was regularly getting calls from location managers and eventually, he was able to join the union. "It wasn't only for my sense of direction," he clarifi ed, "but that was a big part of it, and I have partying to thank for that." Production Assistant No More Lee's fi rst offi cial job in the Location Department was on a Bollywood movie called My Name Is Khan. "It was really interesting," Lee said, "the structure of how they make movies is very different than the way we do it." His next job was a big leap. He was hired as an ALM on the San Francisco portion of Contagion for director Steven Soderbergh. As a key assistant location manager, Lee's career continued to accelerate, garnering work on features such as Venom, Terminator Genisys, Need for Speed, Chasing Mavericks and the TV series Devs, Sense8, 13 Reasons Why, Murder in the First and the rebooted Tales of the City. "Initially, the LMs I'd work for on feature fi lms would utilize me to babysit locations during production," said Lee, "but in the TV and commercial world, I would often get tasked with drawing maps— which I still do—or scouting places for basecamp, crew parking, background holding, etc. In the commercial world, I would get a budget and they'd tell me to go out and negotiate whatever I could. So in the commercial world, I had more responsibility than I did in the feature world." These skills would allow him to continue to move up the ladder, ultimately preparing him for what would be the most diffi cult job he'd yet tackled. The Last Black Man It was 2017. A little chime went off and Lee grabbed his phone. He opened his email to fi nd the latest draft of The Last Black Man in San Francisco waiting for him. He had been recommended to the fi lmmakers by Heather MacLean/LMGI, who herself had worked on a short fi lm called American Paradise with writer-director Joe Talbot and actor Jimmie Fails, on whose story The Last Black Man was loosely based. Having already heard the basic pitch for the story, Lee was excited to read the script and, once he had, he was not disappointed. The offi cial logline for The Last Black Man reads: "A young man (Fails) searches for home in the changing city that seems to have left him behind." "It just spoke to me," said Lee, "I already had a sense of the gentrifi cation taking hold before I left New York, and when I got to the Bay Area, I began to notice it even more." These cities, Lee felt, had a lack of permanence; the old constantly being pushed out or knocked down to make room for the newer and usually more expensive. It was a story Lee was eager to be a part of telling. Lee met writer-director Joe Talbot and quickly joined the project, though it would be quite some time before his work actually began. More than a year in fact. The team had been developing the story as far back as 2015 and, while in what can best be described as "soft prep," decided to post the project on Kickstarter with a goal of $50,000. The project quickly became one of the crowd-funding platform's success stories, pulling in more than $77,000 in donations. On the site, the producers updated their donors, saying, "The incredible support we've received has not only helped us hit our 50k goal—it's demonstrated there's an audience for this fi lm. And that's gotten the attention of folks in the industry." Those "folks in the industry" turned out to be the principals at A24 and Plan B, the Academy Award-winning shingle run by Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner. With that kind of powerhouse muscle behind them, the fi lm was on its feet in no time and Daniel Lee began looking at material the fi lmmakers had generated which included mood boards and a teaser of sorts. Talbot had even composed music that gave a sense of the dreamy quality the fi lm would ultimately have. Location as Character: The House Despite growing up running around Bernal Heights and the Mission District, Talbot didn't have any specifi c mandates about Director Joe Talbot and Jonathan Majors discuss a scene

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