Creative People: Vinnie Jassal
1) How did you get to be a Location Manager?
I studied for a film and American Studies degree at university. After I graduated, I got a job as a ‘runner’ in 2001. From there, I started location work in 2003, and have moved up to head of department. I’m now an award winning short film producer. The next step I want to make is into feature films.
2) What do you do on a day-to-day basis?
I help the director and production designer find and acquire the locations they have in mind for a project. I also photograph project specific locations. For example, if the show requires a chocolate factory I would research and make calls to see if a chocolate factory is available for filming. Alternatively, I’d see if somewhere could be made to look like a chocolate factory. I then set up the shoot by talking to various organisations to gain permission for filming.
3) What’s the best bit about your job?
The best part of my job is being able to stand back on a filming day and see the hundreds of people working on a location. I take real satisfaction that they’re all there because I led the planning stage from day one.
4) What’s the worst bit about your job?
The downside of my job is the long and sometimes antisocial hours. Sometimes I get up at 2:30am to help park up the film's unit vehicles! Also, as the locations department deals with the 'real world', it can be stressful going at the pace of external organisations. Film companies ideally want instant answers!
5) The thing that people don’t really know…
On a filming day, most of the time I am a glorified dustbin man. I spend all day emptying bins!
6) How could I do what you do?
I’d start by calling organisations like 'Film London', 'The Production Guild', 'Creative England', 'Creative Skillset' about training opportunities. I’d also get in touch with location managers directly and see if there’s an opportunity to shadow them.
Being a location manager doesn't require a specific qualification and requires 'on the job', vocational experience. You need to demonstrate persistence, tenacity, lateral thinking, clarity of expression and thought. You also need to be dynamic, quick thinking and a good communicator/ listener. You must never assume anything.
I just wanted to work and make films from a young age, with no real idea of 'how' to do so. Now, I help directly shape the aesthetic of a project. Amazing!
7) What would you say to someone wanting to get into your line of work?
Keep persisting, always listen to more experienced members of your department. Try and pick up their good habits. Practise your photography. You should also learn to drive. Having a car/ driving licence is a huge help. The job requires me to be in lots of different places at any given time – many can’t be reached by public transport!