Location managers info event at Pinewood Studios

Location Innovation - Ex-Forces Excited For TV & Film Training

The Forces Media Academy and ScreenSkills' new programme has launched with an info evening at Pinewood Studios.

Location managers info event at Pinewood Studios

Diplomacy, sincerity and a good bit of charm.

Just three key aspects film and TV gurus are looking for in their next location manager.

That’s the keen-nosed scout who gets out there months before the cameras rock up, and makes sure everything is above board.

Rolling desert that looks like Mars. Check.

Permission to make a modern street resemble 1940. Check.

Enough food and water for 400 extras? You get the idea.

Our award-nominated Forces Media Academy is working with Creative Media Skills at the world-famous Pinewood Studios, to deliver intensive screen skills training to 12 successful applicants.

The programme has been created and funded by ScreenSkills, the industry-led skills charity for the screen industries.

At an information evening held at Pinewood, 25 Forces veterans showed keen interest in joining a programme that - according to industry experts - lends itself precisely to their skillset.

One of the speakers, Ollie Bradbury, is ex-Army and has managed film locations for the past five years. He's sorted out some big-name productions like Dunkirk and Spectre. 

He said: “There is such a strong correlation between this and serving. I’m surprised there aren’t more service personnel finding their way into it.

“I highly encourage it – you bring all your skills in planning, keeping a level head, being good in a crisis.”

Ollie Bradbury chats to Forces Radio BFBS

Paul Biddiss, a former soldier who works in film and TV as a military technical advisor, agrees.

His claim-to-fame is giving George Clooney a ticking-off for inaccurately directing a scene in The Monuments Men.

He said: “I was an extra, and got asked to do a scene with John Goodman.

“Me – not knowing the etiquette of extras, which is to be seen and not heard – decided to gob off and tell George Clooney it should be done differently.

“It was a scene where a Land Rover’s driving up to a burning wreckage. I told him you wouldn’t just drive right up to the burning truck.

“You’d stop short, tap the bonnet with your Thompson machine gun, then get out and survey. That would look more realistic.

“And he just looked at the guy next to him, nodded, and went: ‘Yeah, we like that.’”

Admitting that straight after service he “didn’t have a clue” about the film and TV industry, Paul wholeheartedly encouraged the Pinewood attendees to apply for the FMA/CMS course.

He continued: “Events like this open people’s eyes to an industry where there’s a lot of opportunity.

“It’s organisational skills, how to work within a rank structure, and diplomacy.

“This extends from operations – when you’re having to deal with difficult people.

“You have to be diplomatic; you can’t just start firing off at the first sight of an aggressive confrontation.”

Pinewood Studios
Pinewood Studios - where the magic happens. Picture credit: Pinewood Studios

The hectic world of location managers sounded ideal to Kathy Azopardi – a Royal Navy reservist, and Forces Media Academy student who is coming to the end of her year-long course.

She has a background in countryside management, and is admittedly “really nosey.”

Kathy said: “Film location is one of those things I’ve always wondered about. 

“But you don’t really know how to get into it, and what sorts of things you need to do.

“What appeals, both from the military perspective and film and TV work, is that you just have to get the job done and put politics aside.

“A lot of people don’t know what the opportunities are. So this is brilliant.”

The successful applicants should hear by April 26.

The two-day intensive training for location managers takes place on May 8-9.