Lights, camera, location – It’s no secret that a film’s success rests on the creativity and vision of many different professionals. Directors, actors, production designers, editors, costume designers, writers, composers, and more are all essential to bringing a film to life. But there’s one role that often goes unrecognized – the location scout.
The location scout is one of the first people to be hired on a production, and their keen eyes are instrumental in discovering where a movie will be shot. The locations they find are among the most essential creative building blocks of film, and they deserve recognition from the Academy.
This year’s top films showcase the importance of location scouting, from the Irish island of Inisherin to the front lines of World War I. The scouts who find these locations are artists who bring a world to life on screen. They work tirelessly to communicate the artistic vision of a film while accommodating a film’s budget and filming schedule.
For “La La Land”, location manager Robert Foulkes searched Los Angeles for locations that would convey the mystical, iconic qualities of the city. One of the most meaningful visual components in the film was Tom Suriya’s 1983 mural titled “You Are the Star”, which conveyed Mia’s dreams and foreshadowed that she would eventually put them before love.
Location manager Leann Emmert had to find homes in Southern California that matched the look and feel of Steven Spielberg’s childhood homes for “The Fabelmans”. The locations she found were so incredible that the writers found ways to incorporate them into the script, essentially writing the story around the location.
“Blade Runner 2049”, the sci-fi movie directed by Denis Villeneuve, used a variety of locations to bring the dystopian world to life, including Hungary, Iceland, and Spain. Some of the specific locations used include the Stock Exchange Palace in Budapest for the casino entrance, Korda Studios in Etyek and ORIGO Studios in Budapest, Hungary, and aerial shots of Sevilla and Andalucía in Spain.
Hungary has been a popular location for filmmakers due to its stunning architecture, unique landscapes, and historical landmarks. Here is a list of movies shot in Hungary:
“Blade Runner 2049” (2017)
“Red Sparrow” (2018)
“The Martian” (2015)
“A Good Day to Die Hard” (2013)
“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” (2011)
The country is now set to welcome the latest installment of the Alien franchise, directed by Uruguayan filmmaker Fede Álvarez, which began shooting in Budapest on March 9, 2023.
Location managers are an integral part of the creative process, working with the director, producer, and production designer from the beginning. They bring their own point of view to the script, emotionally and aesthetically. And just like composers, costume designers, and art directors, location scouts have their tools. The art is in how they use them.
It’s time for the Academy to recognize outstanding achievement in location scouting. There are now 17 branches of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and it’s time to add a branch for location scouts. The last category added to the Academy Awards was more than 20 years ago, and now is the opportune time to remedy this oversight regarding the location aspect of filmmaking.
So, let’s give a round of applause to the location scouts who bring a world to life on screen. They are essential to the success of any film, and their creativity and vision deserve to be recognized by the Academy. Let’s celebrate their outstanding achievements and make them an official part of the Hollywood film production language.