Written by Murray Ashton on Sep 11, 2013. Posted in Interviews

Filming on location in Wyoming with Michael J Emmer of Bridger Productions

Michael has been in the film industry since the mid-80s. He started out mainly as a Director of Photography and became a Director, Producer and then a Location Scout and Manager. His knowledge of Wyoming has been used extensively by productions over the years.

What do you like most about being a Location Manager?

Being able to find exact matches and then sometimes even better locations than the client dreamed to fit a particular production.

What types of productions do you prefer working on and why?

I like them all. The variety is quite rewarding and no two projects in this business are usually the same.

What has been your most challenging location assignment to date?

Working with producers who need a rugged or challenging shot and aren't used to the rugged terrain and weather we can have in Jackson Hole. We can usually accommodate them by finding a good, accessible place and still give them the shot they were after. An example would be a commercial we helped out on for Mountain Dew. They needed a steep ice-climbing snow shot for some women that were extreme snow and ice climbers. We ended up using a ski lift and placing a heated shelter nearby where everyone could stay warm as temps were getting to -30 Degrees Celsius.

Which locations are you most familiar with?

Jackson Hole in Wyoming is my speciality but I cover all of Wyoming, as well as Idaho, Montana, the Dakotas, Minnesota and Utah. We also know Argentina and the Patagonia area quite well as we have been involved with four shoots down there.

What can you tell me about the diversity of locations available in these places?

There are rolling mountain meadows draped in multitudes of wildflower colours in the spring and summer, and snow-covered landscapes at any time of year depending on the altitude. We can find snow for various productions even in the summer.

What local filming tips can you offer?

Make sure you hire a local Location Scout, Manager or Producer that knows what the climate and location can dish out. It could be life or death when you're talking about some of the extreme locations we have in the higher elevations here or in Patagonia, Argentina. You need to know the ins and outs, and time required to pull a permit for that particular location.

It doesn't make sense to spend the money bringing in actors or technical people from Hollywood or other places. We have a great pool of people here.

Do you consider your region to be good value for money?

Yes, Jackson Hole is a resort area, but really the prices aren't much higher than other parts of the country. Some accommodation can be more costly at peak times of year, but if you arrange them earlier you can lock in to more normal pricing.

The people here are very talented and are also willing to work at normal wages so it doesn't make sense to spend the money bringing in actors or technical people from Hollywood or other places. We have a great pool of people here.

In Argentina the costs are usually much lower - typically half price. The infrastructure isn't as developed, but because of this the locations in Argentina have that great untouched look about them, like going back into the old American West.

What do you do to relax after a full-on location shoot?

I spend time with my family and friends, and enjoy the lifestyle and sports we have in this area.

Where did you last go on holiday?

Southern Utah - the scenery and desert beauty for hiking and mountain biking down there is world-class.

If you hadn’t become a Location Manager what would you have done instead?

I still produce and direct and I’m a Director of Photography – all about as much as I perform Location Manager duties.

Thank you

To contact Michael please click here.


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