Teresa Darby - Location Manager

Location Manager Teresa Darby talks to us about how she began her career in Costa Rica, what she looks for when hiring and the role of a Location Manager. Teresa’s credits include The Mummy, Heart of the Sea, Maleficent and Snow White and the Huntsman.

Did you know you wanted to work in production or was it a role you fell into?

Yes, knew I wanted to work in production. I studied architecture, but majored in PR and advertising. My career in began in Costa Rica in 1990. I used to do anything and everything as they had a large commercials market.

In 1992, Christopher Columbus film came to shoot there. It was then that I lined up my first job with a European production. I was lucky to have a Spanish passport and took the chance to come to the UK later.

Can you explain what a Location Manager does / can you very briefly outline a typical day?

There are different roles for location managers in the different markets in the UK. Some specialise in commercials, pop promos, TV, the BBC or feature film, but throughout my career I’ve ended up working on large productions. Nowadays, that entails a department with a supervisor, several location managers, a location coordinator and a good team of assistants.

In pre-production, we will do lots of research and scouting to establish a large data bank providing us with plenty of options. Once the script and schedule start to take shape, we can start to prep accordingly.

When we are shooting, our days are rather different than when we prep. We’ll work long hours, managing the actual location whilst prepping the next one and striking the previous ones.

What characteristics do you need and which ones do you think are your strengths?

I think to succeed in this industry, you must be open minded and ready for last minute changes and requests. It also helps to be organised and to have a good, loyal team.

I’m good at dealing with personnel, spotting new talent and establishing a dream team. I’m a good manager and will engage, listen to and learn from my colleagues. It’s also important to have strong communication – I always ensure everyone is in the loop and we are all on the same page.

What’s the one piece of advice you would give someone at the beginning of their career?

Sometimes it can be about being in the right place at the right time. But if you do get the chance of being hired to work on a film set - go for it! Give it your all, be truthful and enjoy the ride!

What do you look for when hiring someone?

I have to be surrounded by good people who work hard and are good at their job. With those entering the industry, I believe in my intuition. I tend to hire keen, well-travelled people who are willing to learn and become part of our working family. Most of them tend to go far and it makes me proud see them do well.

What’s been your best production experience?

My best experiences have been on my first European production, 1492 - The Conquest of Paradise with Ridley Scott and Snow White and The Huntsman with Rupert Sanders.

You attended the Production Guild’s speed networking event for the locations department. Was it a useful experience for you and what did you get out of the evening?

I think it was a very useful experience, and I did find some very interesting people who have gone on to work with me.