Is this role right for me?
To do this role, you will need to:
What does a Unit Manager do?
UMs support the Location Manager and the Assistant Location Manager. They are responsible for the smooth running of the unit base on location.
UMs usually start work approximately four weeks before filming begins. They join all Heads of Departments for several days of technical recces, when locations are visited and checked against each department's needs.
During recces, UMs try to establish good working relationships with the locations' owners/landlords, and note any specific technical requirements, e.g. changing fixtures and fittings, attaching lights or rigs to the property.
During pre-production, UMs help with Movement Orders (directions to locations which are distributed daily to crew members with call sheets), and check the dimensions of trailers and trucks to ensure that on the first day of shooting, all vehicles fit into their allocated parking spaces.
UMs arrive at the unit base before the rest of the crew on the first day of filming, to liaise with security staff to organise the marking out of parking areas using traffic cones.
They pick up their radio-microphones from the production office trailer and go to the location where they make sure that everything is ready for the get-in, including checking that all parking areas are clear and ready for use by the crew.
When the crew arrives, UMs work closely with the First Assistant Director. UMs must be permanently on stand by throughout each shooting day, ready to respond to any situation.
They may be required to de-ice a driveway or sort out a lighting problem. If an angry resident complains because of a noisy generator, the UM must try to resolve the problem calmly and quietly.
They are also responsible for ensuring that the location owners and local residents are not overly inconvenienced by the film shoot. At the end of each day's filming, UMs clear away all rubbish and ensure that locations are left in good order.
UMs may be kept on for several days after films have shooting has finished. They have make sure all locations are cleaned and restored to their original condition, and that letters of thanks are sent. UMs work on a freelance basis.
The hours are extremely long and the work can be physically demanding.
Will I need a qualification?
You don’t need a formal qualification. But you will need a full driving licence and have some training and a qualification in health and safety.
What's the best route in?
You could start out as a driver of a facilities vehicle or a Runner. On big budget films, you might be able to work as a freelance marshal for large public scenes. All these roles can help you make contact with Location Managers.