In the world of film and television production, a myriad of professionals work behind the scenes to bring stories to life. Among these unsung heroes, the location manager plays a pivotal role. They are the ones responsible for finding the perfect settings that visually tell the story as much as the actors do. In this post, we will lay out the responsibilities of this position, the average salary, and some tips on how to become a location manager. Let’s get started.


First, let’s define a location manager

While the role of a location manager is often behind the scenes and largely unseen by the audience, their impact on a film or television production is significant and far-reaching. But what exactly does this role entail? Let's delve into the definition of a Location Manager.


What is a Location Manager in Film?

A location manager is a key figure in the pre-production and production stages of filmmaking. They are involved in the creative process, working closely with the director and production designer to find and secure locations that align with the vision of the film or TV show. Their role also includes practical aspects such as negotiating contracts, obtaining permits, managing budgets, and coordinating logistics related to the chosen locations.

What is a Location Manager Responsible For?

  • Scouting and securing suitable filming locations
  • Negotiating contracts and obtaining necessary permits
  • Coordinating logistics for cast, crew, and equipment
  • Managing location budgets and ensuring compliance with local regulations

Location Manager Job Description

What does a Location Manager do?

A Location Manager plays a crucial role in film, television, and commercial productions. Their primary responsibility is to find and secure filming locations that align with the vision and requirements of the production.

Scouting for Suitable Locations

The location manager begins their work during the pre-production phase. They read the script, discuss with the director and production designer, and then start scouting for suitable locations. 

This process involves not just identifying visually appealing spots but also considering practical aspects like accessibility, noise levels, lighting conditions, and proximity to the main base of operations.

Location Scouting Explained (with Tech Scout Checklist)

Negotiating Contracts

Once a potential location has been identified, the location manager negotiates contracts with property owners. This involves discussing terms of use, payment, and any necessary insurance coverage.

The location manager must ensure that all agreements protect the interests of the production company while being fair to the property owners.

Obtaining Permits

Securing permits can be a complex process, depending on local laws and regulations. The location manager needs to apply for permits from the appropriate city or county offices, ensuring that all legal requirements are met, and that filming will not violate any ordinances or disrupt local communities.

Check out this quick guide on permits:

How to Get a Film Permit (And Why You Should)

Coordinating Logistics

The location manager also handles logistical concerns. They coordinate the transportation of cast, crew, and equipment to and from the location. They also manage schedules to ensure that all necessary work can be completed within permitted hours. 

In some cases, they may also need to arrange for amenities like catering and restroom facilities. Here is a video breakdown of eight tips to keep in mind when coordinating the logistics of production locations.

8 Keys to Location Scouting Like a Pro •  Subscribe on YouTube

Managing Budgets

Location managers are often responsible for managing the location budget. This includes costs related to permits, location fees, transportation, and other logistics. They need to keep track of all expenses and make sure that spending stays within the allocated budget.

Ensuring Compliance

Finally, location managers must ensure that all activities comply with local laws, regulations, and the terms of the location agreement. They also need to ensure that the location is left in the same condition as it was found, addressing any damage or disturbances caused during filming.

What is a Location Manager in Film?

How to become a Location Manager

Becoming a location manager typically involves starting in entry-level positions within the film industry and gradually working your way up. Experience in related fields like real estate, event planning, or geography can also be beneficial.

While there's no specific educational path to becoming a location manager, studying fields like film production, real estate, or urban planning can provide useful background knowledge. It's also important to develop skills such as research, negotiation, problem-solving, and attention to detail.


Location Manager salary

The salary for location managers can vary widely, depending on factors like the size and budget of the production, the complexity of the location logistics, and their level of experience. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for producers and directors, which includes location managers, was $74,420 in May 2020. However, salaries can range from around $35,000 to over $100,000 per year.


Find Location Manager jobs

Finding jobs as a location manager can involve checking industry-specific job boards, joining professional organizations, and networking with other industry professionals. It's also helpful to create a portfolio showcasing previous work and demonstrating skills in location scouting, negotiation, logistics management, and budgeting.

Despite the challenges, being a location manager can offer a unique and fulfilling career path for those who enjoy working behind the scenes in the film and television industry. 

It's a role that combines creativity with practicality, requiring both a keen eye for aesthetics and strong organizational skills. For those with a love of film and a knack for logistics, it might just be the perfect career.

Up Next

Discover more filmmaking roles

A Location Manager is instrumental in transforming a director's vision into on-screen reality. To continue through our series of the various filmmaking roles and positions, you can explore similar jobs like an executive producer, director, or location scout. Or you can jump over to our Film Crew Index to browse the entire range of filmmaking roles. Understanding what everyone’s role on a film set is will help make you a better overall filmmaker and a more efficient crew member.

Up Next: Explore more crew positions →
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  • Kyle DeGuzman graduated from San Diego State University with a Bachelor of Science in Television, Film, & New Media. He currently resides in Denver, Colorado spending his time writing, filmmaking, and traveling.

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