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The Extra Mile – Profile: Itasca Locations

Louise Styles, director of Itasca Locations, tells us why they will stop at nothing to help filmmakers find their perfect spot. 

Itasca Locations was formed in late 2009, after the three founding members found themselves out of work. Having worked previously at a location library, Claire Headley, Holly Brightwell and I used our combined experience, industry knowledge and contacts to create Itasca, with the help of location manager and producer Malcolm Walker. Our aim is to take the stress out of finding a location for filming; from scouting to coordinating, we make it a smooth process for the location manager and in turn the rest of the production team.

We are growing, with the addition of Vicky Furness, while Claire will shortly move into the scouting and management world alongside our other affiliated location manager, Jenni Lewis. We also have numerous freelance scouts, managers and producers.

We are predominantly a location library and have over 2,500 locations registered with us for filming, photo shoots and events. Alongside this we also offer scouting and management, fixing, event production, filming and stills production, health and safety, security, and even extras (via www.extra-people.com).

To date, we have worked on films including Brighton Rock, Inception and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen; TV shows including Spooks, Luther and Secret Diaries of a Call Girl; events including Giles @ London Fashion Week 2010, Nokia and Xbox; and photo shoots for Vogue, Barclays and M&S.

The Process

We work in two ways. Clients call us with a brief and we use our skills to put forward the best matches, or they request information on specific locations. While sticking to their brief, we will also offer suggestions; often, ideas we put forward can form a new idea or concept for a shot. Once a client has a location that they are interested in we liaise with both parties, talking terms and of course negotiating the hire fees. We then draw up the contract between the two and handle all payments. We will be available during and after the hire, to ensure that everything goes well and to offer assistance with any lingering issues.

“I have had several occasions to work with Itasca Locations over the last few years and it has been a pleasure to work with Louise and her team every time. Their knowledge of the industry and the locations that they manage has made the process of filmmaking considerably easier, and I look forward to working with them for many years to come.” – Giles Edleston (Location Manager: Sherlock Holmes, Green Zone, The Queen, Snatch)

Location, Location, Location

We’ve scouted all sorts, from large halls in New York to skyscrapers in Mumbai, while our library has varied locations from underground Victorian prisons through to architect-designed homes in the country. Some of our exclusives include:

The Farmiloe Building: a large Victorian warehouse complex with a four-storey glass-covered atrium, office spaces, atmospheric floors and a self- contained unit base.
The Blue Fin Building: a stunning corporate headquarters in central London, with huge central atrium, offices, studios, large roof terrace, winter garden and a coffee bar and restaurant.
The House of Detention: an extraordinary underground Victorian prison complex with cells.

We’re also very pleased to announce that Itasca Locations are now the official representative for British Waterways’ network across England and Wales. Spaces include rivers, canals, locks and so much more. (For more information on using the waterways as a location you can call 0844 846 8698 or email waterways@itascalocations.com)

Part of the Team

Location managers are usually the first people we are in contact with over a project, but are certainly not the last! We regularly deal with producers, directors, writers, photographers and stylists. On a recent London Fashion Week event we had close dealings with the fashion designer himself, as the final say on creative decisions came from him.

Often it will be the stylists, make-up team and props department who can alter and adapt location requirements. If a big production needs to use a house for filming, and they have a honey wagon and make-up team, it is our job to make this a possibility.

“Since Itasca hit the location library scene I have found myself using their services almost on a daily basis. The whole team are extremely friendly, resourceful and imaginative; they continually help to take the stress out of a tough brief. I’ve also found the team very skilful at interfacing between the location owners and a demanding production. Long may Itasca continue to prosper on the library scene.” Dan Whitty (Location Manager: Johnny English Reborn, Bel Ami, In Bruges)

Financial Planning

Although the producers/studio will pre- decide where the production will be shot, a supervising location manager may be able to provide guidelines as to which countries are easiest to shoot in, or most like the country the film is trying to recreate. Obviously we have some knowledge of which countries provide tax breaks— for example Canada is a popular co- production company, as is Ireland, both of whom have a strong working co- partnership with the UK. Alternately, the UK offers around £100m in tax breaks to foreign features shooting in the UK.

Troubleshooting

Luckily, things don’t go wrong too often; each eventuality is carefully and meticulously planned for. If something were to go wrong with the location itself, however, then we are always on hand to speak to the location owner and liaise with the local councils/police and highways departments. Depending on the nature of the problem, we are often able to resolve the issue on site. Should the location become unavailable for any unforeseen circumstance, we work to find an alternative location for our client, which meets their satisfaction.

“The Farmiloe Building provided Clerkenwell Design Week with a striking backdrop for our contemporary design exhibition… our visitors were treated to a unique and memorable glimpse of this architectural treasure. As well as fantastic locations and venues, Itasca provides a first-rate client service. The Itasca team was incredibly patient and sensitive to our needs. We found the team to be helpful and accommodating, investing genuine interest and excitement towards our event.” - Stephen Block (Media 10 Production Company, Clerkenwell Design Week)

The Importance of the Right Location

It could be argued that location managers are the ‘unsung heroes’ of the production; they are the first to arrive on set and the last to leave. They are a vital part of the overall production, and good communication skills are essential as they work closely with the director to ensure his/her vision is achieved, as well as with the line producer to ensure it does not break the budget. Only one location manager has ever received a BAFTA; perhaps more should be acknowledged.
Contact Louise and her team on 020 7494 0888 or email info@itascalocations.com www.itascalocations.com

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