Location, Location, Location — and the LMGI Awards
In the end, La La Land won, and it stuck.
That was the conclusion to a convivial evening, a kind of coda to award seasons at large, where the LMGI — Locations Manager Guild International — actually goes ahead and holds its own show after the Oscars, going against unspoken, well, La La Land tradition.
But they have a plausible excuse: “Oh? Sorry. We were away on location.”
Which made the choice of venue somewhat ironic: The backlot of Warner Bros. studios, in the Seven J. Ross theater, among all the faux urban and historic streets that weren’t technically “locations” at all.
But the LMGI folks are nothing if not good-humored. And fairly contemporary, as there was lots of talk throughout about “building bridges between filmmakers — not walls,” as co-chair Eric Klosterman noted in his opening remarks.
The evening started with a slew of honorary awards, including the Eva Monley Award to director Danny Boyle, for “an industry-related professional who embraces the work of location professionals.” Speaking by video, Boyle spoke of how location work is “under-celebrated,” compared to other below-and-above the line professions, but, along with casting, is a critical first step towards a film’s eventual success. He talked of how actually filming in the streets of Mumbai further energized Slumdog Millionaire, compared to what Indian film professionals had recommended, which was to stick to elaborate soundstage sets, a la Bollywood.
For his Lifetime Achievement Award, Stuart Raven Barter was introduced by director Joe Pytka renowned for his commercial and music video work, who called him his “go-to guy.” Barter has worked as both scout and location manager, and there was much praise from the podium from those on the scouting side about how hard the managers’ jobs are, once crew, cast and all those production vehicles, are actually on site.
Barter himself opined on how the profession has changed and, well, become a profession, since the days when “producers usually hired unemployed family members to scout locations.”
The redoubtable Lori Balton was also honored with the “Trailblazer Award,” perhaps for being the first location professional admitted into AMPAS, in 2013. Echoing Barter, she noted that the LMGI was “making a difference in the perception of location professionals.” And she added, “especially in today’s political climate, solidarity is a beautiful thing.”
That solidarity included not one, but two ties in the award sections, with worthy nominees sharing accolades with one another. The first came in the “Outstanding Locations in a Commercial Category,” with David Doumeng and Charlie Love splitting the award for their work on a Macbrook Pro commercial, with JJ Levine, Will Brewster, Patrick Burn and Dana Hanby for a “This Land Is Your Land”-themed commercial — which appeared to take in a lot of varied land — for Johnny Walker.
The next tie came in the Outstanding Locations in a Period Television Category, with Pat Karam and Robert Bentley’s work on Netflix’s The Crown splitting the honors with Mandi Dillin’s sage work for HBO’s Westworld.
Categories not ending in a tie included Hidden Figures winning for outstanding locations in a period film, beating out Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, whose “period,” we gather, was simply “a long time ago.”
As for the “in a galaxy far, far away” part, that was actually rewarded when the Royal Commission of Jordan won for all the “desert planet” locales provided for the film, though in accepting the award, one of the two commissioners noted he’d “prepared a speech on my iPad, but they took it from me on the plane.”
That left La La Land, beating out familiar rivals like Manchester by the Sea and Lion, for Outstanding Locations in a Contemporary Film, and this time, the envelope really meant it.
Location manager Robert Foulkes spoke at length, thanking Steve Beimler for all his great scouting work, which actually took in lands that weren’t strictly “la la,” like the Hermosa Pier and neighborhoods in Long Beach. But he also thanked both CalTrans and the Highway Patrol for the epic dancing-on-a- freeway number that opens the film, and the evening ended with a nice bit of full circularity, when Beimler then thanked Stuart, “who trained me.”
After that, it was outside to the New York street which itself had various areas dressed to look like Game of Thrones, the old west, a 50s diner, and more.
All those places that location scouts and managers will soon be dispatched to find once again in real life, or at least what passes for it on the big screen.
Full list of awards:
LMGI AWARDS HONOREES:
Eva Monley Award
Lifetime Achievement Award
Stuart Raven Barter
OUTSTANDING LOCATIONS IN A PERIOD TELEVISION SERIES ***TIE***
The Crown – Pat Karam, Robert Bentley/LMGI
Westworld – Mandi Dillin/LMGI
OUTSTANDING LOCATIONS IN A CONTEMPORARY TELEVISION SERIES
The Night Manager – Tom Howard, Daniel Sampedro Palerm
OUTSTANDING FILM COMMISSION
Royal Film Commission of Jordan – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
OUTSTANDING LOCATIONS IN A COMMERCIAL ***TIE***
“Bulbs” (Macbook Pro) – David Doumeng/LMGI, Charlie Love/LMGI
“This Land is Your Land” (Johnnie Walker) – JJ Levine/LMGI, Will Brewster/LMGI, Patrick Burn, Dana Hanby
OUTSTANDING LOCATIONS IN A PERIOD FILM
Hidden Figures – Wes Hagan/LMGI, Dan Gorman/LMGI
OUTSTANDING LOCATIONS IN A CONTEMPORARY FILM
La La Land – Robert Foulkes/LMGI, Steve Beimler/LMGI