Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Location Manager's Job Is Never Done.

When I finish a job, I usually get as much as a week to "wrap" the show.  There are "thank you" letters to get out.  There are repairs (hopefully minor, but sometimes -- egad -- not so minor) to follow up on.  There are invoices to chase down and approve (or dispute) for accuracy.  There's a ton of paperwork the Production needs put in order for the future. (A year from now, they may have to prove they had some business owner's permission to use their name in the movie.)  And when they do a sequel (and hire someone else for that one -- what's that all about?), they need to know who owns that house from Scene 27B so they can go back there and shoot again.

After that week or so of paid wrap is over, you just know there will be emails and phone calls coming in for the foreseeable future.  It goes with the territory and you just kind of chug along and respond to this stuff -- gratis.  Sooner or later, though, it gets ANNOYING.

The movie I finished last month is still within it's grace period.  I'm getting emails from people waiting for final checks. (OK, in at least two cases, it's because their faxed invoices were so smudged, the mailing addresses were practically illegible and their checks came back as undeliverable.)  And in one case -- and I'm really not sure how many other ways I can say, "Nuh-Uh! That's NOT what we agreed to."

And frankly, I'm getting a little less patient about waiting to get reimbursed for my out-of-pocket petty cash expenses.  Granted, it's not their fault I waited until the last minute to submit my expense reports and it's not their fault I spent my own money instead of submitting interim petty cash summaries and getting my float renewed as we went along, but, c'mon guys, it's been almost a month now.

It's not just the shows you just finished that keep intruding on your life.  Yesterday, I had to chase down a piece of paperwork from a show I did two years ago.  That one was pretty easy, but I can see a number of situations where the producer would have been S.O.L.

I had another show where a homeowner claimed to have been missing a bunch of stuff from a closet in their home.  And we're talking ridiculously expensive 6 vintage fur coats; and some antique crystal; and some other irreplaceable tchatchkes.  The only problem with that is that there's no way anyone associated with our production could have taken the stuff -- if it existed in the first place.  Ya'see, the first thing our set-dressers did when they started prepping the house was to move a hugely-heavy bookcase in front of the closet door so we'd never see that it was there in the movie. (Trust the context of the movie, it wouldn't have made any sense for there to have been a door where this closet was.)  And the homeowner was there when we moved the bookcase into place.  And they were there on the last day of wrap when we moved it away.  And it took something like six people to move the thing. Did I mention it was huge and heavy?  There are a few other reasons this stuff couldn't have been taken while we were using the place -- if it existed in the first place -- but the argument went on for months.  And as the dispute made it's way through the various departments of the studio and to the insurance company, I got call after call after call to fill them in -- from scratch -- what our side of the dispute was.  It didn't seem to matter that the person calling me always had a copy of my written report in front of them when they called me.

Eventually, the insurance company made some sort of settlement to make the whole thing go away and I stopped getting phone calls.  And if any of you are concerned that the home-owner may have felt abused, about a year-and-a-half-later,  a scout working for me brought back brand new pictures of the same home for another show.  He said he'd met the home owners and they claimed to have never been involved with a movie production but that they'd love to have one shot in their home.

Uh Huh. 

Another time, I got a call from somebody at a studio.  His question went something like this:

"Hey, do you remember when you were prepping _________________ and you and the producer went and had a meeting with ________________?  Do you remember what he said about ______________?  Hmmmm?  Do you? It's kinda important."

That one was easy to deal with too.  I hadn't worked on that show.

P.S. I mentioned a week or so ago that I had recently been scouting and when I found out my camera battery wasn't holding a charge, I ended up shooting everything with my phone. And, of course, my phone has a built in GPS.  Since then, I've discovered something kinda neat -- or really scary, depending on your outlook.  There are a number of times where you're out shooting stuff "in the middle of nowhere" and it can be a pain in the ass to keep notes that are good enough to find your way back to the spot again.  Not anymore!

Look at these pictures I just randomly shot as reference along "Rt. 79".  Then, click on the button on the upper right that says "Map This".



vince said...

I can see how embedding the GPS location where a picture was shot can be helpful, especially in your work.

And if you don't want it in the images? There's software that allows you to change all that information, or remove it.

By the way, I still think your job is kinda cool, but the more you share, the more I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to do it.

A.J. said...

I'm still getting e-mails from production about lost headsets from a show I was on that wrapped over a month ago... As well as e-mails about lost personal items like jackets and hats. The funny/annoying thing is that I was only on that shoot for a day.