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Australian Location Managers Guild launches

Jacob Livermore, ALMG secretary; Elizabeth Sarsfield, president and Mark Evans, vice president.

In order to have a more formalised approach to knowledge sharing, and to promote the creative and logistical contributions of the locations department, a group of location managers have officially launched the Australian Location Managers Guild (ALMG).

The guild is now inviting locations department professionals, as well as other screen industry colleagues, to apply to become members.

Location managers are currently in high demand, with the role facing key shortages across the country. The formation of the guild follows increased need to service large-scale productions, Screen Australia’s launch of programs to bolster below-the-line capacity and the Federal Government’s recent decision to increase the Location Offset to 30 per cent.

For several years, locations crew have informally joined together locally or across states to form strategies as the industry rapidly changes. The rise in production in recent years has often meant more complex and large-scale work, the need for more crew within the location department, and an increased need to work interstate. To launch a formal guild was the brainchild of Elizabeth Sarsfield, Mark Evans and Jacob Livermore, who found early support from federal and state screen agencies, producers and other screen organisations, particularly the Australian Production Design Guild and the Australian Cinematographers Society (ACS).

The ALMG’s early priorities include surveying locations professionals about the issues they’re facing, connecting with other industry associations, and elevating the locations profession, including among film schools. It would also like to open more discussions about the way in which the wider community assists with the filmmaking process – and how a production’s conduct can have either a positive or negative impact on further production attraction to an area or region.

Sarsfield will serve as the guild’s inaugural president, while Evans is vice president and Livermore is secretary. The national executive committee has representation from every Australian state. They include:

  • Naysan Sinave, Queensland
  • Mary Barltrop, New South Wales
  • Chris Tangey, Northern Territory
  • Drew Rhodes, Victoria
  • Kate Fox, Tasmania
  • Sarah Abbey, South Australia
  • Claire Burton and Rachael Hawkins, Western Australia

Sarsfield, who has worked as a location manager since 2015, tells IF an understanding of the filmmaking craft – including script, character, subtext, photography, and design – is integral to what locations professionals do. The department plays a vital role in production attraction, the look of a project, and in the management of crews working with communities and public spaces.

She hopes the guild will promote more understanding about and showcase the role of the department in production, including attracting more to the profession.

“While we were working on the structure of our not-for-profit company, our committee developed a basic business plan with ultimate aims for our guild. The first step is to take the time to engage with our department, to unpack how we work best and find solutions to improve our practices.

“Screen agencies have already been working with experienced location managers to create training and attachment programs and ALMG can hopefully contribute to the fantastic work already being done across the states and with Screenworks and Screen Australia. In the future we will be keen to collaborate with other guilds, producers, screen agencies and higher education to create workshops, masterclasses, and training,” she says.

“ALMG wants to build a very welcoming and inclusive environment for very experienced location department crew to impart knowledge, and a platform for those very new to the department to contribute their experiences and ideas.”

Evans, who began his career as a director and cinematographer, is also an active member of the ACS’s South Australian committee branch, and believes the successes of the society can act as a guide.

“There is real value in joining and contributing to an organisation created for the members by the
members. Knowing what the ACS has achieved over the last 30 years, I’m confident that ALMG can build and become a real voice in the film community.”