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TLG talks to Mike Fantasia, President of the Location Managers Guild International » The Location Guide

TLG talks to Mike Fantasia, President of the Location Managers Guild International » The Location Guide

Written by The Location Guide on Jan 10, 2019. Posted in Contributors / Interviews

I labored in numerous jobs in the pure assets subject after I graduated from school. That ultimately led to a job as a realty specialist for the Kootenai Nationwide Forest based mostly in the small logging city of Libby, Montana. Steven Spielberg got here to the space to make the firefighting film All the time in 1989 and one of my assignments was to work on the allow for the shoot.

In Nevada. Photograph: Donny Martino, Jr.

Patricia Fay, the location supervisor on All the time, employed me to coordinate discovering skilled hearth fighters to work as extras close to the hearth and to work as a fireplace patrol after filming shut down every day to insure no scorching spots remained. Having a entrance row seat behind the scenes on a film set with arguably the biggest filmmaker in the world was an unimaginable thrill.

I used to be turning into a bit tired of my job and as I discovered extra about location managing I realised that I used to be nicely ready for doing that sort of work. I’d additionally been a eager novice photographer since highschool – an essential talent for a location supervisor. My school schooling and dealing in pure assets for over a decade stood me in good sted for studying and making maps, researching and scouting properties, figuring out property strains and researching property possession, and getting ready and reviewing authorized paperwork.

I really like telling individuals about my job and displaying them the way it relates to the general course of of making a film.

Throughout giant hearth breakouts, I labored in numerous positions as well as to main strike groups of 40 individuals into fires and digging hearth strains. On a pair fires, I used to be tasked with discovering and establishing areas to use as hearth camps – parking areas for giant vans and heavy gear; catering, showering and toilet areas; sleeping areas for crews; helicopter and airplane touchdown zones; locations for firefighting gear to be repaired, saved and distributed, and so forth. It appeared like the good mixture of schooling and work expertise, so in January 1991 I left the safety of a federal job and jumped with each ft into the world of filmmaking – based mostly in the cinema capitol of Libby, Montana!

What do you’re keen on most about being a location supervisor?

There are so might issues I really like about my job. I take pleasure in the individuals I meet wherever I’m going in the world. I’ve made buddies on each continent (besides Antarctica) who I communicate with. I really like telling individuals about my job and displaying them the way it relates to the general course of of making a film. Apart from a only a few individuals I’ve met over the previous 27 years (U2 pilots, the president of a prestigious Ivy League school, a thoroughbred jockey and an internationally acclaimed architect) everybody agrees my job is fairly cool, fascinating and a heck of much more enjoyable and thrilling than theirs’!


On the Rocks in Iceland. Photograph: David Seaton.

I’ve had the alternative to journey to unimaginable locations that many individuals won’t ever have an opportunity to see. I’ve been in a burial chamber in a single of the oldest recognized Mayan ruins in central America; I’ve been on islands in the river under the largest waterfall system in the world; I’ve been on prime of some of the tallest buildings and in mines which are hundreds of ft under the floor. I actually have the greatest job in the enterprise!

Who’ve been your favorite administrators to work with and why?

I’ve had the nice pleasure to work with some of the largest administrators in the enterprise in addition to many who’re up and coming. Working with Steven Spielberg on quite a few tasks (All the time, Catch Me If You Can, Munich) gave me the alternative to research his course of and find out how he modified course as he shot and edited the movie, deleting whole scenes, including new scenes, combining places and units for effectivity. He’s a grasp.

On the different finish of the spectrum, I’ve labored with a pair younger filmmakers who’ve utterly totally different types. On Godzilla I labored with Gareth Edwards (pictured under) who had directed just one different movie. Gareth knew what he didn’t know, which is all the time an amazing attribute in a younger director. He had a superb producer in Patty Whitcher and the greatest division heads he might discover. He relied on us to assist him obtain his imaginative and prescient and it was a pleasing filming expertise that produced a very good film.

Working with administrators like these, as opposed to some of the infamous “screamers” in the enterprise, makes going to work a pleasing expertise.

On Spider-Man: Homecoming I labored with Jon Watts, a younger filmmaker who had additionally solely directed a pair of different options. The film was shot in New York Metropolis and Atlanta. Jon went to NYU Movie faculty and lived in the metropolis so he had a transparent imaginative and prescient of what he needed on display. He offered us with photographs, drawings, sketches, Google Earth photographs that helped us focus our scouting. He’s a pleasant man who has so much of expertise and on prime of all that, he was nice to work with.


Gareth Edwards on the set of Godzilla.

I additionally loved working with Peyton Reed on each Ant-Man movies for Marvel. Peyton is unflappable! On every movie we both misplaced places at important occasions or had large location issues introduced to us simply earlier than filming. Peyton’s response is all the time the similar: “that means something better will come along”, or “I know you’ll make it work”. By no means crucial, by no means indignant, all the time supportive.

I’m prepping a movie with Joseph Kosinski now. Joe is a really sensible director, a person who is aware of what needs. We had an amazing location lined up that we shortly realised wasn’t going to be manageable to movie – we have been making an attempt to match a sq. peg right into a spherical gap. Joe, of course, was dissatisfied the we misplaced it, however his angle was the similar as Peyton’s – “something better will pop up”. And it did. We discovered a terrific location that really labored higher than the unique one and everybody was a lot happier with it. Working with administrators like these, as opposed to some of the infamous “screamers” in the enterprise, makes going to work a pleasing expertise.

What was your favorite film or TV manufacturing you could have ever labored on and why?

I feel engaged on Munich (pictured under) goes to be troublesome to beat. I used to be winding up scouting on Lincoln when the producer requested me to go to Budapest for “a couple days” to work out the issues the manufacturing was having. It didn’t take lengthy as soon as I received there to get to the backside of the issues and we took steps to resolve them earlier than manufacturing began. The subsequent 4 months have been an unimaginable expertise engaged on such an historic manufacturing. Manufacturing Designer Rick Carter labored with us to discover ten European and American cities in Budapest; we reworked Andrassy Road into Paris and Rome; a sports activities stadium into Frankfurt; a former Luftwaffe air base into Munich; and a college library constructing into New York.

Steven Spielberg & forged on the set of Munich.

As unimaginable as that have was, with all it’s challenges, the factor that makes it my favorite manufacturing is the content material of the movie. It’s an important and shifting story that was directed by the most influential Jewish director of our time. It brings up ethical dilemmas that want to be examined and it asks the place the line is between retribution and terrorism. At concern is the countless cycle of violence that erodes ethical and moral codes and is, I consider, the central theme of the movie. The males charged with finishing up the missions have been on a regular basis males who progressively grew disillusioned with their task and have been ridden by guilt and paranoia about what they have been doing. It raised quite a bit of questions and controversy earlier than, throughout and after filming. It was filmed when there was so much of pressure in the world. The Iraq Struggle was raging and there was so much of unrest in the US over the course it was taking. Hurricane Katrina hit the US whereas we have been filming and there have been rather a lot of very direct and fascinating discussions that happened amongst the worldwide crew at dinner each night time about how they perceived the US altering as a world chief. For a lot of causes, it was the greatest filmmaking expertise I ever had.

What are your favorite states, cities and nations to work in and why?

Los Angeles is a superb metropolis to movie in, even with the giant developments which have reworked the downtown core right into a harder place to movie. The climate is usually lovely, much better than nearly another giant manufacturing hub besides Australia. The crews are the greatest in the world and the film-related companies situated right here lead in improvements in filmmaking strategies, gear and methods. FilmL.A. does an unimaginable job coordinating filming in the larger LA space, a lot better than another place I’ve labored. On a bigger scale, California has a unbelievable community of native and regional movie commissions. They do a superb job serving location professionals and are second to none in the world.

New York Metropolis can also be on prime of my record. It’s such a various metropolis, from the high-rises of Manhattan to the central American markets in Queens, from Staten Island to the rising areas in Brooklyn. The Mayor’s Workplace of Media and Leisure additionally does a fantastic job juggling the big inflow in manufacturing round the metropolis.

Beginning out in the businesss on a Speilberg movie was definitely extraordinary.

I would like to work in Jordan in the worst approach. I used to be there on a fam tour about ten years in the past and I used to be taken by the magnificence of the nation and the individuals. A quantity of my pals have filmed there and have had incredible experiences. George David does such an ideal job as managing director of The Royal Movie Fee and the authorities pulls out all the stops. Hopefully I’ll discover a script that takes me there once more very quickly!

What would you say have been your most extraordinary ‘on location’ experiences and why?

Boy, there have been so many extraordinary experiences over the years. Some of them are extraordinary as a result of of the location we have been in and a few have been extraordinary as a result of of the issues we did at the location.


On the Deck in Iceland. Photograph: David Broder.

Beginning out in the businesss on a Speilberg movie was definitely extraordinary. After which working with him on movies like Catch Me If You Can and Munich have been nice experiences. Having the ability to view an historic Mayan burial chamber deep in a tomb at Tikal was an expertise most individuals won’t ever have. Sitting on an island at the base of Iguassu Falls on the border of Argentina and Brazil for a day, with helicopters filming overhead and water thundering down round me was a very magical expertise I’ll by no means find a way to re-create.

Flattening a hill, constructing a piece of Kyoto on a horse farm in southern California on Memoirs Of A Geisha, filming throughout one of the wettest years in a decade and restoring the hill once we have been accomplished was a year-long occasion that boggled the thoughts when one displays on the herculean effort that went into it. One wonders how we have been in a position to persuade the city fathers of a small city in northern Idaho to permit us to cowl their downtown space with paper to simulate volcanic ash, and to construct a church steeple, a freeway overpass and a constructing facade, all which collapsed throughout our filming. These are however a couple of in an extended record of extraordinary issues I’ve skilled in my 27 years as a location supervisor.

Throughout your profession you’ll have arrange tons of of places shoots. Which from reminiscence was the most difficult and why?

There have been many over the years – the torrential rains, snow and frozen floor, twister and 80 mph winds we endured all through the filming of Seabiscuit; or the winds, torrential rains and flooding we endured on Memoirs Of A Geisha. However maybe the most difficult was the snowstorm that hit us towards the finish of manufacturing on three:10 To Yuma in New Mexico. We went on Christmas break with the expectation of coming again in the new yr, filming for a pair extra weeks and going residence. Mom nature had different concepts.

We spent about 4 months reworking Kellogg, a small mining city in northern Idaho that had seen higher days, right into a metropolis that was devastated by a volcano and buried in ash.

To make a really lengthy story brief, the southwest was hit with a 75-year storm between Christmas and the new yr. One thing like 5 ft of snow mixed with robust winds and sub-zero temperatures blanketed hundreds of sq. miles, together with our set at the Ford Ranch in Galisteo. The set was remoted and we had no concept of its situation. On January 2, the producer, artwork director and I skied a few mile by means of thigh-deep snow into the set. The complete set and base camp have been coated with three ft of snow. Vans have been buried. The 100 foot lengthy tent full of wardrobe was partially collapsed. The producers and director had by no means touched a snow shovel of their lives and have been at a bit of a loss as to how to proceed so the development coordinator, transportation coordinator, artwork director and I led the assault. We employed 80 labourers. We purchased 200 snow shovels from a House Depot in upstate New York (which remarkably had no snow but that yr) and shipped them to New Mexico. We employed graders, bulldozers, bobcats, backhoes, dump vans and entrance finish loaders. The labourers began by shovelling off the roofs of over 30 buildings, then they moved to sidewalks and alleys. Bobcats labored the small areas. Graders and dozers scooped snow into dump vans they usually created 30 foot tall mounds of snow the measurement of soccer fields. After a few week of working in 15 diploma temperatures and powerful winds, we moved about 30,000 cubic yards of snow.


Coping with the Snow at Ford Ranch. Photograph: Jay Hart.

We then had 75 stomach dump vans of gravel delivered and unfold it over the roads inside the set. Seen from above, it was a postage stamp of brown filth amongst tens of millions of acres of white. Over the subsequent two weeks, as the solar got here out and melted the snow as the crew filmed, we labored feverishly in entrance of them to cowl areas that melted with dust. Our efforts paid off and the crew remarkably solely missed a couple of days of filming and no one ever knew that simply out of digital camera vary have been hundreds of thousands of acres of snow!

What’s your most memorable or happiest ‘on location’ story?

I used to be employed as an assistant location supervisor on Dante’s Peak. We spent about 4 months reworking Kellogg, a small mining city in northern Idaho that had seen higher days, right into a metropolis that was devastated by a volcano and buried in ash. We employed over 100 native residents to work in nearly each division for a lot of months. It was an extended, troublesome present. Simply earlier than Christmas, months after we wrapped, I acquired a package deal in the mail. It was a silver coin minted from silver mined in the final working silver mine in northern Idaho. Included in the package deal was a thanks card. The one that despatched it stated that that they had been having a troublesome time making ends meet over the last few years and the job I gave him allowed his household to have the first joyful Christmas in a few years. I nonetheless have that silver coin and each time I see it on my bookcase I feel of completely happy youngsters on Christmas morning. It by no means ceases to amaze me how movies can change individuals’s lives.

You’re very lively in the business. Please inform us about the Location Managers Guild International (LMGI) and your position as president, moving into the Academy of Movement Image Arts and Sciences and your work as a board member of the Asian Movie Fee Community (AFCNet).

The LMGI has been in existence for about 15 years, first as an American guild and for about the final 5 years as a world organisation with members on each continent. It was shaped in LA by a gaggle of location managers who have been fed up with being ignored as half of the artistic workforce and who needed to promote our work and, as our tag line says, to “promote excellence on location worldwide”. I’ve been lively in the guild since its inception, a board member for about 10 years and was just lately elected president.

Photograph: Lori Bolton.

My emphasis over the subsequent yr will probably be to proceed our progress with our aim of doubling our worldwide membership by the finish of 2019. We additionally need to improve alternatives for members to develop into lively on our numerous committees and by contributing articles, pictures and concepts to The Compass journal, our web site and the publication we plan to launch in the subsequent couple of months. We would like to have extra occasions modeled after very profitable occasions in Vancouver and Atlanta that mix an academic element comparable to panel discussions or demonstration of new applied sciences with a social gathering and new member recruitment.

Any individual, company, enterprise, labour union, civic or group organisation supporting the functions of the LMGI and assembly the necessities might apply for membership.

We now have constructed a robust basis for the LMGI and now with a strategist on board to assist us develop into extra targeted we’re poised to supply our members much more by holding occasions in cities round the world, growing networking alternatives and offering larger member advantages.

The day after being elected president of the LMGI I used to be knowledgeable that I used to be elected to the designers department of the Academy, the organisation that presents the Academy Awards annually. Solely three different location managers had beforehand been elected to the Academy, so it was fairly an honour to be amongst this yr’s class. The inclusion of location managers in the designers department is a sign that location professionals are being accepted as half of the artistic workforce, an enormous success in our efforts for acceptance. I’m simply beginning to study the inside workings of the Academy and hope to develop into extra concerned with it as time goes by.

Two days after receiving discover that I used to be elected to the Academy, I used to be elected to the advisory board of AFCNet (a physique of sixty movie commissions from eighteen nations). AFCNet was organised ten years in the past to promote the balanced progress of the movie business in Asia. I’ve but to attend a gathering of AFCNet so I haven’t been concerned of their course of however I look ahead to turning into concerned with them over the subsequent yr and contributing to their progress.

What do any of our TLG worldwide location skilled viewers studying this want to do to qualify and turn into members of LMGI themselves ? Who ought to they contact?

Any individual, company, enterprise, labour union, civic or group organisation supporting the functions of the LMGI and assembly the necessities might apply for membership.

The LMGI has numerous membership ranges. Most of our members are Lively Members – location managers, assistants and scouts working as professionals in the movement image, tv, business, video or print industries who’ve LMGI sponsors and at the very least 300 paid working days in the business. Affiliate Members are individuals in these fields who don’t have LMGI sponsors and have labored 150 days. Apprentice Members are rising places managers, scouts and assistants who don’t meet the standards for lively or affiliate membership however need to take part in LMGI actions as they accumulate their days.


On prime of the Flatiron Constructing in NYC with Manufacturing Designer Michael Riva. Photograph: Matthew Whitcher.

Our Enterprise Associate class consists of any particular person or entity that needs to help the functions of this company and be thought-about to be a sponsor of the LMGI. Enterprise companions might embrace distributors and companies supplying items or providers to the manufacturing industries in addition to movie commissions, authorities, group and civic organisations. The enterprise should have been in operation for a minimal of one yr and have an LMGI sponsor. There have been some delicate modifications to our Enterprise Companion class (previously often known as Enterprise Member) and the tiered membership classes will allow enterprise companions to achieve further advantages.

Extra info is out there on our web site or e mail us.

What do you do to sit back and chill out after an extended week on location and dealing as president of the LMGI?

Between the LMGI and no matter job I’m engaged on, it’s typically troublesome to keep any semblance of a private life. My job includes so much of journey, whether or not in southern California , abroad or locations in between, so I stick shut to residence on weekends. Frankly, dwelling close to the seashore in LA is fairly good so I like to experience my bike to Hermosa Seashore or Santa Monica or simply hang around at house catching up on life. There’s rather a lot of issues occurring shut by – live shows at the marina, performs at the Geffen Theatre, or simply testing all the new eating places and outlets close by. I take benefit of not having to get into my automotive for a number of days.

The place do you want to journey and when did you final take a trip?

Despite the fact that I’ve travelled to properly over eighteen nations, 5 continents and twenty states, I hate to admit that it’s been a decade since I’ve taken an actual trip, and that was to central Italy. My escape is my previous log home tucked into the mountains of northwest Montana. It’s quiet, my cellphone doesn’t work on most of my property and I can lay in a hammock for hours and look by way of the timber to the mountains past. I’ve lots of journeys in the planning levels – Mongolia, Nepal and the Indian subcontinent, Central and South America, japanese Europe, Scandinavia, Korea, Japan, Africa are all on my record – however work retains intruding on them. However I’ll begin to knock them off subsequent summer time once I end the movie I’m on now.

In the event you hadn’t grow to be a location supervisor what different job would you might have favored to have executed?

I began out in the pure assets subject after school and was fortunate sufficient to work with a whole lot of sensible, humorous implausible individuals in lots of wondrous locations. I think if I hadn’t been fortunate sufficient to have arguably the biggest filmmaker of all time make a movie 4 miles from my home in “the middle of nowhere” that I might have continued alongside that path. I in all probability would have left the authorities monitor and ventured into the personal sector to a spot at the Belief for Public Lands or one other such organisation. I’ve additionally all the time been involved in catastrophe aid so I might see that as a path I might have taken. Once I labored for the Forest Service I labored on a pair fairly huge fires as the one that discovered the location to base lots of of firefighters and help crew – very comparable to establishing a base camp for a movie in a distant space. I might see me shifting in the path of working with an organisation like the Purple Cross or Group Rubicon.


Click on right here to contact Mike.


South Korea.