In conversation with location manager Jason Allen

3 August, 2021

Screen and Film School Manchester were delighted to host an exclusive masterclass for our applicants and enquiries last month with location manager Jason Allen.

Jason Allen is a Location Manager with over fifteen years’ experience of bringing exciting film locations to our big screen. A part of the Locations Team on the multi-BAFTA and Oscar winning film – 1917, he managed the locations in the North of England doubling for France in WW1.

Lead by Screen and Film School Manchester Head of Careers & Industry Judith Suckling, Jason joined our audience of applicants via Zoom to discuss his career so far including work on 1917, Ready Player One, and Dolittle, and talked us through his process of reading a script, scouting the North of the UK for the perfect back drop, and what it is like to work closely with the some of cinemas leading directors to get the perfect aesthetic.

Here are some of our favourite insights from this incredible masterclass.

On embracing tools such as Google Maps and Instagram for location scouting

“Technology has really changed things, you know in the old days you used to just have to look at a map and drive around, whereas you can do an awful lot of work through your computer now and it saves a lot of time- creatively it really helps.”

The most interesting place he’s done location matches for

“We matched Isle of Skye for Japan for 47 Ronin. We did a week of aerial shoots with twenty horses and a helicopter which was good fun- and if you watch the film there’s big wide shots of horses travelling across landscape and that’s set in Japan, and if you look at it, it matches! They’ve added bits of CGI landscape as well but ultimately the skeleton of it is mostly there. Ready Player One was a bit fantasy but the basis for it was Ohio, and the bits I did for that were in Birmingham- we filmed underneath Spaghetti Junction for a chase sequence, and also some scenes just to the side of the Custard Factory, and also all round the Jewellery Quarter.”

On the influx of streaming projects after Covid-19

“With Covid, I sat at home for 8 months and then the last 9 months has been by far my best year. I think 90% of my film friends are now working on either Apple TV or Netflix projects- streaming services have gone mental. With Covid and everyone being stuck in doors all day, they needed something to occupy themselves and they’ve all signed up for streaming services, and at the top of that are enormous corporations who need to keep the content going so people don’t stop paying their 10 quid a month. A typical person works 40 hours a week and gets home and might watch a couple of hours of content- people went from that to like 12 hours a day! No only was there a short fall of things not being made (during lockdown) but people have watched huge swathes of stuff. So these streaming projects have really spiked now.”

On where he sees the most opportunities for our students

“Across the board- there’s not enough people. The volume of things being produced is outweighing the crew, to the point where you’ve got people coming back into the industry because the phone is ringing all the time. The demand is outstripping the supply. I think the film industry has really figured out a way to carry on and survive. It’s exciting times for these guys who are starting their careers, because there are going to be opportunities. I genuinely think it’s really exciting and in the next 5 years it’s going to continue to boom.”

What advice would he give to our new students?

“It’s the simple things: be interested, work hard, be on time… be early! It’s the simple stuff that will take you anywhere in life; be nice, and enjoy it.”

A huge thank you to Jason Allen, our Head of Careers & Industry Judith Suckling, and of course all of our wonderful applicants and enquiries for making this a session to remember!


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