by Lori Balton
Photos by Craig T. Mathew and Greg Grudt/Mathew Imaging
We are proud to celebrate the only global awards show dedicated solely to our craft. Around the world, our members serve the film and television industry with ingenuity, savvy and boldness. The architecturally fresh venue (Santa Monica’s The Broad Stage in Santa Monica) was the perfect hosting of our 6th Annual LMGI Awards. More than 450 guests included LMGI members, industry executives, designers, producers, film commissions and press. They came from around the corner and across the oceans to revel in the international diversity and sophistication of the show, complemented by the sparkle of Hollywood celebrity.
This year marked our highest number of submissions to date, featuring an impressive slate of international nominees, from location pros to film commissions. They represent all our hard work, in markets big and small, in television, features and commercials … from tentpoles to independent projects, and everything in between. Location professionals are innovative collaborators, ace photographers and road warriors. We are intrepid explorers, architectural experts, artful diplomats and crew whisperers. Epic problem solvers, script interpreters, tough negotiators, visual storytellers … we think outside the box and shift to Plan B in a New York minute. From green light to taillights, our work is creative, intricate, demanding and deserving of the celebratory spotlight.
Hosted by the delightfully glib AJ Gibson, talk show host on Hollywood Today Live, the evening opened with Oscar-, Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning industry powerhouse Regina King presenting the awards for feature films. Roma (filmed in Mexico City) and Mission: Impossible – Fallout (shot in France, UK, Abu Dhabi, Norway and New Zealand) took the honors. King is about to direct her first feature film, One Night in Miami. She spoke emphatically about the importance of locations—going beyond backdrop to set tone, reveal character and enhance the narrative.
Emmy-winning Holland Taylor (The Practice, Two and a Half Men, The Truman Show) elaborated on that thread, weaving her introduction of the LMGI Eva Monley Award recipient, iconic director Peter Weir. While Monley is synonymous with the quintessence of excellence in location professionals, Weir is likewise a visionary legend, whose evocative locations chart the course of his films, from the perilous Master and Commander to the hypnotic Picnic at Hanging Rock, from the sultry Year of Living Dangerously to the bucolic Witness.
Peter Weir would be the first to tell you how much he relies on his location manager—one in particular. Mike Meehan, he got his break in feature films as the location manager on Witness in 1985, launching what would be a 34-year relationship with Weir. “Mike reads a script like a composer reads a sheet of music,” says Weir. “He knows the locations that hold key elements whose silent presence contribute to the whole.” From Mongolia to the Amazon, from Darjeeling to the Galapagos, Lifetime Achievement recipient Meehan has worked on more than 38 movies and scouted more than 40 countries. Along with a video acknowledgment from Weir, the award was presented by producer Duncan Henderson (Dead Poet’s Society, Oblivion, Harry Potter, The Perfect Storm), who has collaborated on 13 films in countless locations with Meehan, spanning four decades.
Tony-winning hyphenate Joe Mantegna presented the Commercial Award, congratulating location pros for finally getting some long overdue recognition. The commercial nominees reflected the international aspect of our Guild. Mantegna declared, “They are technically on par with the most ambitious feature films of our time—but each tells its entire story in about a minute.” Nat Geo’s Nujeen Mustafa was the winner, produced and submitted by LMGI business partner Ready to Shoot in Portugal. Los Angeles, Istanbul, Serbia and Iceland provided locations for the equally outstanding nominees.
Known for Barbershop, 2 Fast 2 Furious, Think Like a Man, and the upcoming ABC series Stumptown, actor Michael Ealy graciously introduced Roxanne Taylor who accepted the Humanitarian Award on behalf of her company Hidden Empire Film Group. Creatively, they are a dynamic and successful producer of socially relevant and intelligent content. But the empire created and operated by Roxanne and Deon Taylor and Robert Smith is so much more. Their deep compassion and active engagement in raising awareness of human rights and social issues is a unique, inspiring hands-on brand of activism. To paraphrase Malala Yousafzai, they raise their collective voice not so that they can shout, but so those without a voice can be heard.
Instrumental in launching London’s FOCUS and “makers” magazine, The Location Guide’s Clara Le joined our “well-deserved and most definitely international celebration.” Le added, “The Location Guide is proud to play a part in the spectacular work being done by everyone in this room, on both the big and small screens.” She presented Kevin Jennings/Film Otago, Southland, New Zealand with the Film Commission of the Year Award for their proactive work on Mission: Impossible – Fallout.
Celebrating the platinum age of television production, director Claire Scanlon (The Office, Fresh Off the Boat, Black-ish) presented the final awards of the evening for Period and Contemporary TV. The awards went to Chernobyl (lensed in Lithuania) and Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan (shot in Montreal, DC, Morocco and France), respectively. Scanlon comments, “I feel that from the first frame of every film or television program, the authenticity of the storytelling is immediately established by the locale. If it does not ring true in that first moment—you have lost your viewers’ ability to suspend disbelief and escape into another world. The location manager bears the weight of the responsibility to do justice to every project they take on and their importance is never lost on the director. It is everyone working in concert to build a world that makes a production come together and create something new and, if we do it right, magical!”
We did it right, and the evening was magical … see you next year on the red carpet.•
Eva Monley Award: Director Peter Weir
Iconic director Peter Weir is the recipient of the 2019 LMGI Eva Monley Award. Monley was the go-to scout and logistics wrangler in remote locations for John Huston, David Lean and Otto Preminger. Immensely curious, capable and self-reliant, she thrived in a peripatetic film career spanning five decades, including cinematic legends such as Lawrence of Arabia, Exodus, The African Queen and The Man Who Would Be King. Eva Monley would appreciate the weight Peter Weir ascribes to his filming locations.
Weir sent us his acceptance on tape, shot by documentary filmmaker Anna Howard, assisted by Weir’s Oscar-winning cinematographer Russell Boyd. Standing on the other side of the Pacific Ocean, he lamented not being able to join our celebration.
“Thank you very much for the Eva Monley Award. It’s an honor. And I think that it’s no secret that I love locations—they can make your story better. So let me take this opportunity to thank all those who’ve worked with me over the years, finding those wonderful places. I was thinking even today about how creative your work is … I often will write more scenes exploiting a great location. That’s when it really works, and that is the kind of collaboration I love! Thank you.
Honorable Mention: Trends of Global Storytelling
by Jill Naumann
Now that the bowties and strands of pearls are back in their cubby, the red carpet rolled away, the LMGI is pleased to announce some honorable mentions where acknowledgment of excellence is due. A growing interest in the Guild resulted in a big submission increase—well over a hundred aspiring international productions. Our community of recognition welcomes the first appearance of some new regions, including Singapore, Malaysia, Zambia, Portugal, the Canary Islands, Lithuania and the Czech Republic, some of these with glorious results in the finals. There were a lot of great submissions … not all of them ended up on your ballot.
Let’s reflect on the amazing effects of location talent in some film and television that maybe you haven’t heard of yet, but really should. I don’t want you to miss out on anything. As I prepared to guide you to your next binge-worthy adventure, in highlighting some of these fascinating projects, I uncovered trends in storytelling worldwide.
You’ve probably heard it said by creative writers that there are only seven original stories to be told in modern entertainment, originating the basic fiction themes, including power, love, revenge and so on. Even director Ron Howard has been quoted as saying there is only one—variations on boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back. For our purposes, I showcase five story categories as your personal global entertainment shopper based on the discussion and scrutiny of the jurors who weighed the bounty of choice to bring you the final nominees. My categories are: Time Travel, History, Fantasy/Super Hero/Villain, Drugs/Crime/Spies/Terrorists and Lifestyle. These were the stories told in 2018/19. Allow me to elaborate.
Is it an amazing coincidence that not one or two but five TV series have us all obsessed with traveling to another dimension? Whether with friends or the devil, by choice or by accident, it’s best to pack for a bumpy ride. Travel the space and time continuum with Maniac, Legion, Counterpart, Impulse, The OA.
If history is your thing, then special mention for riveting reality goes to: When They See Us, On the Basis of Sex, Outlaw King, The Front Runner, The Infiltrator, Catch-22, Mary Queen of Scots. But why wait for history to be made when it can be slightly altered, in the “What If” series about the alternate riveting NON reality … presenting: 1983, The Handmaid’s Tale, Serenity, The Man in the High Tower.
Enjoy the imaginative new worlds and fantastical superpowers of Black Panther, John Wick 3, Deadpool 2, Titans, The Umbrella Academy, Westworld, Tidelands, Game of Thrones, Christopher Robin.
Don’t forget to visit the dangerous world of spies, drugs, crimes, and/or terrorists The Mule, Sicario 2, July 2nd, Killing Eve, The Americans, The Girl in the Spider’s Web, Dragged Across Concrete, Patriot, Sharp Objects, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, Mayans MC.
Need a lift in motivation? Try the lifestyle stories of cowboys, porn stars, billionaires, astronauts, first responders, transvestites, rock stars, clowns, bikers, manicurists, actors, hitmen and vampires. Anyone who can correctly name all these series sent into us will be sent a prize. No joke, I will send you a gift card for movie tickets.
Other trends in 2018 were the favored products of certain regions. England and the UK like to solve crimes and mysteries, and gave us Vera, The ABC Murders, A Very English Scandal, The Widow, Queens of Mystery. Australia offers a banquet for your different tastes in every category such as Mr Inbetween, Tidelanders, The Secret City, Mystery Road.
What do Pose, Fosse/Verdon, When They See Us, The Deuce, BlacKkKlansman, Maniac, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Vox, Billions have in common? In addition to having generated a lot of buzz, they all chose the same place for their plot, making New York City this year’s winning MVP location for diversity in storytelling worldwide.
In the category of guilty pleasures (to be enjoyed with chocolates and fine wine), the awards go to Tidelands, Claws, Yellowstone, The Umbrella Academy, Fosse/Verdon, The ABC Murders.
And now the award for BEST HONORABLE MENTION, the television productions that came so close to being on the ballot … drum roll please:
One Dollar – A must-see story set in a small rust-belt town in post-recession America, a one-dollar bill changing hands connects a group of strangers involved in a shocking multiple murder.
The Romanoffs – A contemporary series internationally set, centering on separate stories about people who believe themselves to be descendants of the Russian royal family. Shot on three con-tinents in seven countries. An absolute favorite is the Mexico-based episode 6 “Panorama.”
A Very English Scandal – British Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe is accused of conspiracy to murder his gay ex-lover and forced to stand trial in 1979. This story spans three countries and 20 years.
The First – A near-future drama about astronauts attempting to become the first humans on Mars. The crew contends with peril and personal sacrifice as they undertake the greatest pioneering feat in human history.
Ozark – The continuing tale of a family hiding in the Ozarks making amends to the Mexican cartel they are indebted to by setting up a successful money-laundering/drug operation while under the watchful eye of the FBI.
I could go on and on. You decide. And let us know. If you would like to volunteer as a preview juror on the Awards Committee for 2020 entries, let us know at email@example.com•
“I’m very thankful there is an internationally recognized organization representing our craft, putting our interesting job into the spotlight—the LMGI is indispensable. Biggest thanks go out to all the people working diligently to keep our organization going and growing. It’s my pleasure (and the least I can do to honor all this work) to come to Los Angeles and celebrate in person with my colleagues from around the world. Keep up the great work!”
Klaus Darrelmann/LMGI, Location Manager and Scout, nominee for
The Girl in the Spider’s Web, Berlin
“Location managers are a vital to the narrative design team of any project. The process of discovering locations is often the very way into identifying visual language that makes a project unique. The LMGI Awards provide long overdue recognition for the integral contribution of location professionals to the creative process. This year’s nominees from across the globe were impressive. Of particular note were the stunning commercial category nominees, each featuring fantastic & unique narrative expanding venues.”
Nelson Coates, Production Designer, President, Art Directors Guild, Los Angeles
“It’s exciting to celebrate the great effort we all make in the Location Department. I felt overwhelmed by such recognition. It was lovely to see so much talent together, hugging and congratulating each other after years of fighting in the trenches. I congratulate the LMGI for having made these very necessary awards possible.”
Ana Ibanez/LMGI, Location Manager, nominee for The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, Madrid
“It was our first time at the LMGI Awards—a great opportunity to reach out to location managers about Malta’s filming potential and diverse locations. We received great exposure to an international gathering of top location professionals. The caliber and global diversity of the nominees was impressive. Well-presented and highly organized. It was great to be part of it.”
Johann Grech, Malta Film Commissioner, LMGI Awards Gold Sponsor
“We get so bogged down dealing with contracts, vendors, calls from concerned neighbors—it’s easy to lose sight of the elements that make this job unique. Watching this showcase of our colleagues’ best work produced over the year inspires me to hone my skills, strive for more, and take pride in the creative element of my craft. That’s what I love about the LMGI Awards.”
Miranda Carnessale/LMGI, Key Assistant Location Manager, Los Angeles
“The LMGI Awards were a great opportunity to meet the industry’s best location professionals and to introduce them our country. It was a very neatly organized, joyful event. It was totally worth making the trip from Istanbul since we also used this opportunity to meet other industry professionals in their California offices.”
Chad Ozturk, Panda Films, nominee for Trust (South India Bank), Istanbul
“I was humbled to be accepted into the LMGI, because I am proud of what I do—proud to share Guild membership with seasoned professionals who I look up to. As something of an “outsider” having come up in two incentive states between the coasts, I felt a deep sense of camaraderie at the awards show. I was moved by the words from fellow location managers and presenters alike. It was incredibly validating, surrounded by people from around the world who share my passion for locations. I encourage all of our colleagues to attend so that we grow stronger, louder, and brighter as a community with each passing year.”
Tim McClure, Key Assistant Location Manager, Atlanta