There are a number of key qualities that I look for when interviewing someone to work with us. It's certainly not a job anyone can do, and you'll learn very quickly if it's not for you. Forget the red carpet..... you're very much the point end of the stick when you work in 'locations'. And, rightly or wrongly, you're only as good as your last job.
Dedication: There is no doubt that this is the number one quality a location scout has to have. You have to have the ability to pick yourself up and get the job done when you're exhausted. And you will be exhausted. We need that someone who's going to go knock on those few extra doors when the cards area stacked against us. Someone who's keeps their phone on so we can call them in the middle of the night, simply because the director is in LA and you're on the other side of the world. Thats just the way it goes.
Creativity: There are two side to this. Having a creative eye and thinking outside the box. Working within the film industry means being creative does help. Not essential, but helpful. You need to read a script and embrace the directors vision. Of course, having a creative eye to take photographs might just mean you find something that no one else has thought of. However, thinking creatively and 'outside the box' trumps it for me. Whilst everyone else is looking for something specific, a scout needs to think about how it can be achieved. This is something that, to a point, can be taught, but when someone has that quality of being able to think creatively and practically.... it's a huge bonus that will help you excel in the industry.
Personality: I hate to say it but a good scout, and a location manager for that matter, needs to have an approachable personality. Being charming, polite and thoughtful are key qualities that I consider to fall into the personality category. I can't stand the phrase 'their face fits'. Sadly, however, we live in a world where people decide what/who you are based on your turn out, rather than speaking to you and getting the facts. Whenever I'm out scouting, or meeting location owners, I always ensure I'm well presented. That does't mean wearing a suit, but it certainly means not being stuffy.
Supposing you are working on a project that has a young girl as the main protagonist and you need to find a bedroom for a particular scene. How are you going to persuade a stranger to let you into their house and photograph their 12 year old daughter's bedroom if you're unshaven; stuffy & have dirty shoes, with a look on your face that says you wished you were watching Game of Thrones instead?
People generally don't like being disturbed and, naturally, we are all defensive when someone knocks on our front door regardless of the time of day. So you need to win them over with 'hello'. Yes - it sounds corny! But you have all of 10-15 seconds before they say "No. Not interested" and close their door in your face. Who you are? What you're doing? What you're looking for? What's in it for them?
In fact, as I'm writing this, I'm starting to think your personality traits are more important than dedication. Perhaps there's a good argument to suggest that someone who can get their foot through the door quicker than others, could effectively get the job done sooner. Whatever the case, hard working, creative, practical and charming...... that's what I'm interested in looking for when employing a new scout or location manager. Most other skills can be taught.
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