TLG talks to Antoine Dubois, ADR (French Location Scouts Association) member and ADR / FOCUS 2019 group coordinator
How did you become involved in the film business and what has been your career path that took you to become a location scout ?
I became a location scout almost by accident! While I was still studying for my political science master’s degree, I got involved in the organisation of my university’s film festival. It was then I met film director Mia Hansen-Løve and was proposed an internship on Eden, the film she was working on at the time.
This opportunity to satisfy my curiosity surrounding the cinematic world, allowed me to discover and test a variety of posts throughout the totality of the shoot. I particularly enjoyed the location scout’s role, and realised I had an inclination for it. This led to more work propositions for other films, and gradually, what was a side job became a profession.
I like the fact that each location scout has a completely different background from the other. Unlike for other jobs in cinema, no school teaches how to become a location scout, so its on other criteria - mainly human and intuitive - that this cinematic role bases itself on. We at the ADR all come from different backgrounds, and have very different lives amongst ourselves, different trajectories.
Please explain the difference in the role of a location scout and manager in France. Compared with the same role in the Anglo film world.
I’m not an expert on the Anglo film system. My impression is that the main difference is that in France the location scout’s role depends on the Assistant Director’s department, whereas in the Anglo-Saxon world, the location scout’s role depends on the location management’s department.
In France, other than having to think of locations in terms of practical possibilities for the shoot, we also have to consider all technical aspects the location offers to facilitate the director, cinematographer, set designer, and sound engineer. To my knowledge, Location Scouts in the Anglo film world, are more subdued to the Location Manager and are more concerned by the practical aspects of a shoot.
In practice, the location scout’s process is made up of the following steps: we go on site alone at first, and take pictures that we send to other members of the crew. When the crew pre-selects some locations we then take them to visit these places, and on site the rest of the crew validates or not a location.
Once a location is validated by the all members of the crew, the Location Manager then takes over for all technical aspects such as negotiations and all other details concerning the shoot’s efficiency.
What do you love most about being a Location Scout ?
The location scout’s role is one that tackles all aspects of a film production. I get to interact with the director, the set designer, the cinematographer, and the production manager. I love the omniscience of my job.
I enjoy the fact I can work alone at certain given times. Seeing as I intervene early on in a production, sometimes there are only the director and the casting director already involved, therefore there is time for researching without the hectic environment that surrounds a set later on in the making.
I also love that I get to become the link between real people living in real places with real lives, and fictional characters from fictional universes.
Lastly, it always gives me great pleasure to help the director give birth to his film, being amongst the first to help transmit the director’s vision. From the scripted idea, to the real world, to the concreteness of the shoot.
Who have been your favourite directors to work with and why ?
I very much enjoyed my collaboration with Mikhael Hers on Amanda (pictured right). One of his aims was to depict contemporary Paris. Hence the Paris I too live in, post-attacks Paris. So it was a project close to me, and it also was the first time I felt I had a real dialogue with a film director.
I just finished working with Thierry de Peretti for his new film Undercover - a five month collaboration! (pictured above) - and I very much enjoyed it : because he is in constant search, because he is open to out of the box suggestions. People who work with him are not simply executing their technical duties. We are also taking part in the creative process which changes constantly to ensure the liveliness of the project.
What was the most extraordinary location scout brief or director request and why?
I will always remember the first request that was made of me as a location scout.
I was asked to find a submarine that hosted rave parties underwater near Paris in the early 90’s. No one could find it and I was really excited to look for it. I felt like I was on a treasure hunt!
I was able to trace it down by tracking its original builder - a bit of a crazy inventor type who’d built it in the outskirts of Abidjan. After Paris, it had been sold and eventually abandoned.
Thanks to some Dutch friends I’d met during my exchange year at McGill University, I was able to trace it down. It had been disassembled, reassembled, and repainted, and it had become a brothel located in the suburbs of Amsterdam.
What would you say were the most extraordinary on-location experiences and why?
I worked on Bruno Podalydès’s last film Bécassine! On this occasion I had to search for an old farm in the countryside in a region I knew nothing about (pictured below). I got to meet people who have a very different lifestyle to my own, that - on occasions - invited me to dine at their table, and permitted me to discover hidden places I would not have been able to discover otherwise…
It’s something I like about this job, that it allows you to meet people you would never meet and/or interact with otherwise. Meeting people living in the underprivileged northern suburbs of Paris by morning, getting to know some of the richest villa owners on the western side of Paris by night, having a random dinner with a farmer of the French countryside a few days later…
It gives you an interesting transversal point of view of society as a whole.
You’re very active in the industry. Please tell us about the ADR and your role as the ADR Focus coordinator.
ADR is an association that was founded six years ago and that is made up of twenty-two experienced location scouts. Seen as - as I told you before - I see this profession as somewhat of a lonely one, I see the association as a useful space to share experiences, methods, and of confronting ourselves with different ways of working. Each one of us with our different talents and specificity.
We also use the association to keep our methods up to date concerning the constant evolution of the digital tools we serve ourselves from.
Administratively, the location scout’s job isn’t clearly defined: this sometimes makes our position in the work world somewhat more fragile. Having an association strengthens our credibility and position within the cinematographic world.
As for me, I am the youngest and newest member of ADR, and I volunteered as coordinator for Focus. It is the first time we part-take at this meeting in the Destination France division. We participate with the aim of exposing our name internationally, to possibly get to work on a more international level.
FOCUS the meeting place for international production will take place in London on the 3rd & 4th of December. Click here to receive your free delegate badge.
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