Location Manager Ned Shapiro finds a home with Habitat for Humanity

Back in October 2010, Mike Fantasia and Kris Wagner talked me into participating in the LMGA’s first Habitat for Humanity build.  At first I resisted because I am the farthest thing from being handy with a hammer and power saw, and I was overweight and had a bad back. But, I went anyway, and had one of the finest experiences in my life.  We were doing finish work on 8 or 10 townhouses on Imperial Highway in Lynwood.  For my own safety, I was given a push broom and was asked to sweep up areas in which we were working.  I took to it immediately and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

The act of volunteering got my old Peace Corps juices flowing for the first time since 1968 (I was in Kenya from 1967-1968).  At the end of the day, I went up to the Habitat person in charge of our build day and askedwhat other ways I could volunteer with HFH, if I couldn’t swing a hammer.  That person, Alison Treleaven, told me there were many areas in which I could volunteer and gave me her card.

Within a couple of weeks, I was interviewing with the volunteer program, and met HFH-LA’s special events manager, Patty Lee. After we chatted about my background as a location manager, she told me that she was having a 4-day Build-A-Thon with Hollywood for HFH, coming up in Burbank. She needed a 4-day road closure, portable restrooms, a map, and shuttle buses.  I told her no problem and she just stared at me.  “Are you sure?” she asked.  I told her that’s part of what we do as location managers.

I contacted my old vendors.  First, I called Jim Morris of JCL, who told me he’d do the closure for free along with a dozen directional signs, which are still in use.  He also gave me the contact in Burbank to get the permit for the closure going.  I had no film office to go through this time.   It’s amazing what you can get done if you have a couple of months to prep a road closure permit.  I also contacted Tracy Danielson of S&S and Tom Ybarra of Reel Waste, who graciously donated VIP restrooms and trash bins for the event. LocationmapsLA provided the map for free.

I had no transportation vendor for shuttle buses and drivers, so I called my friend and transportation coordinator supreme John Orlebeck, who put me in touch with Jack Lietzske.  Jack provided three crew buses at a fraction of the cost and three 399 drivers who were willing to work for non-union scale for the event. Over the years, John has helped get people movers, a production office trailer from Movie Movers, drivers, and indirectly, a truck from Avon Rentals through Sony Transportation.  Needless to say, the Burbank Build-A-Thon of 2011 was a huge success.  HFH-LA greatly appreciated a location manager’s professional expertise, which is often overlooked in our industry.  I enjoyed their gratitude, but I told them, again and again, “This is what we do.”

Since then I continue to help HFH-LA in various capacities as a logistics/equipment volunteer.  I order maps and put up yellow directional signs for other build days and home dedications.  I’ve even turned them on to the Lunchbox.  They were astounded.  I also volunteer as a host checking in other groups on their other build days in Long Beach, Lawndale, Lynwood, and Central LA.

On November 6-9th I saw it all come together magnificently at the Hollywood for Habitat For Humanity Build-A-Thon, as the LMGA contributed more than just volunteers.  Our Guild, with the help of Chris Fuentes and Kris Wagner, raised $25k in Gift in Kind donations from: It’s A Wrap Cleaning & Equipment Rentals, Reel Waste & Recycling, S&S, Bear Creek Portables, Chef Robert Catering, Reel Security, Skye Rentals and Map This Out. I want to thank the LMGA volunteers who showed up:  Kris Wagner, Chris Fuentes, Eva Schroeder, Shelly Wilson, Danny Wilson, Eric Klosterman, Leslie Thorson, Marie Healy, Josh Sanchez (Encore Air), Alex Moreno (Creative Handbook). We couldn’t have done it without you all and the help of the LMGA.

I will continue to volunteer with HFH-LA, because, unlike other charities, I receive great satisfaction in seeing something tangible as a result of donations and volunteering.   It’s something special to see a home erected for deserving people.  The families go through a rigorous interview process, and are then given an interest-free mortgage.  HFH has a less than 2% default rate.  Habitat for Humanity is the largest private homebuilder in the US and is in 70 countries.  A new home is completed somewhere in the world every five minutes.

As we in this Industry like to say, “It’s all up there on the screen.”  Real homes for real people thanks to volunteers and organizations like the LMGA.  I am proud to be a member.

Ned Shapiro, a native of Los Angeles, was a location manager for feature films and TV for over 30 years.  After two years as a US Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya, East Africa (1967-1968), Ned went from USC Graduate School in Journalism directly to KNX-Newsradio, then on to KNXT-TV (now KCBS) as a field producer for six years before he was lured into scouting for commercials.  He moved over to TV where he worked on such TV series as  Hart to Hart, Knight Rider and Murder She Wrote. Ned’s feature film credits include Dead Again, Indecent Proposal, Apollo 13, The Man Who Wasn’t There and Intolerable Cruelty, W and The Kids Are All Right.  Happily retired since 2010, Ned lives in West Los Angeles.