The Location Managers Guild of America (LMGA) scouted the Writer’s Guild Theater for the 1st Annual LMGA Awards held Saturday, March 29. A crowded cocktail lounge prior to the awards ceremony was telling of the proud and supportive community of location professionals. LMGA president Nancy Haecker welcomed honorees and nominees on the red carpet, including the evening’s host, actor and comedian Jamie Kaler.
One of the evening’s first nominees to arrive was Lori Balton, nominated for her scouting work on Saving Mr. Banks. In regards to the film’s locations, which painted a global portrait but never left California, Balton said, “It was a nice film to work on in the sense that it reminded me of when I worked on Seabiscuit. When I found the locations, I knew that I found the locations.” Balton added that the film took only three weeks to scout. She also serves on the LMGA awards committee.
Haskell Wexler was in attendance as the honoree of LMGA’s Humanitarian Award. Wexler, known for lensing such films as Oscar-nominated One Flew Over The Cuckcoo’s Nest and Oscar-winning Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf? is also the co-founder of 12on/12off, a non-profit organization dedicated to keeping filmmakers well rested and properly fueled. Prior to the ceremony, regarding his mission of limiting the film work-day to 12 hours, the work-turnaround to 12 hours, and the meal-break limit to six hours, Wexler humbly explained to Below The Line “Working 14, 16, 18 hours is killing people. Literally killing people. It’s unsafe, unhealthy and they say what I’m doing justifies a humanitarian award.”
Standing ovations went to both Wexler and the evening’s Humanitarian Award presenter, Billy Crystal. Crystal shared stories from the set of 61, a film he directed for HBO in 2001, with Wexler at the lens. Wexler’s focused care regarding the lighting of Crystal’s daughter, Jennifer Crystal Foley, while making the film provided an inside to “Wexler the artist,” according to Crystal. “She’ll be beautiful forever,” said Crystal in quoting Wexler, adding that Wexler’s commitment to 61 being contingent on the 12on/12off modus operandi defined “Wexler the man.”
The Eva Monley Award, in honor of Eva Monley, location manager on Lawrence of Arabia and The African Queen, was given to Alexander Payne in regards to his belief in a story’s dependence on location for validity and depth. “Choice of overall location, Nebraska, Hawaii, California wine country, is as germane to my choice of making a film as the story itself,” said Payne, in a pre-recorded acceptance video. “My team and I strive, always, to ensure sense of place is as precise as the emotion of the story.” Payne won an Oscar for The Descendants, filmed on location in Hawaii, and for Sideways, filmed on several locations in California. His latest film, Nebraska, featured locations spanning the states along the story’s road-trip and received six Academy Award nominations.
Additional honors included the Trailblazer Award, presented to Inland Empire Film Commission director and location professional Sheri Davis, and the Lifetime Achievement Award, presented to location scout Scott Dewees.
Game of Thrones won big, taking home both the award for outstanding location TV program and the award for outstanding achievement by a location professional TV program, the latter given to the series’ head of locations, Robert Boake.
The list of award-winners also includes The Secret Life of Walter Mitty for outstanding location feature film, location manager Ilt Jones for outstanding achievement by a location professional – feature film (Iron Man 3), David Doumeng and Charlie Love for outstanding achievement by a location professional – commercial (Nike), and Albuquerque Film Commission for outstanding film commission (Breaking Bad and Lone Survivor).