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"Over the Years, the Excel Table with the Locations Became Bigger and Bigger, and Then it was Not Just a Table, But More”

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Abroad Films chats with Gergo Bakos, location manager, who might know Budapest better than the palm of his hands

"Over the Years, the Excel Table with the Locations Became Bigger and Bigger, and Then it was Not Just a Table, But More”

Gergő Bakos started his career in 2005-2006, at the beginning of his twenties, when location searching was not yet a separate task in Hungary for either feature films or advertising. The visual and set designers, along with the production team, searched and selected the locations, and then the production arranged and signed them. And Gergő, as a novice and a young production manager still searching for his career, was happy to photograph them. This was also necessary because there was not much of a site catalogue, let alone a database.

We have now reached the point where the demand, especially from foreign productions, has already arrived. There are three positions in this profession. Two of which are almost identical: location scout, who organizes, takes photos, and deals with the owner, and the location manager, who deals with the contracts, and mostly deals with background work.

Today, thanks to his accumulated knowledge and experience, Gergő is asked to be a location supervisor, which is mostly a consulting position. He doesn't consider himself as a member of the production crew, but as outside help with creative ideas for the foreign designers and location scouters. Perhaps the most important thing, in this case, is that he precisely  knows the domestic relations, legislation, and of course the associated loopholes, too. His accumulated knowledge is of more than 30,000 locations.

His role in domestic film production is often still a grey area. The question often arises as to why the designer and the recruiter need an in-between person or team, which, of course, means extra cost. The answer is very simple: because the accumulated knowledge and experience he and his team have "Over the years, the excel table with the locations became bigger and bigger, and then it was not just a table, but more, grouped by size and style of the properties. Besides, I do not throw out pictures of locations that are no longer there, because in a few decades, if you look at these pictures, you will get a view of what Budapest was like in the early 2000's” - Gergő gave insight into the secrets of his database.

This field is surrounded by a multitude of unexpected or unsolvable tasks, as was the case with a commercial with Bruce Willis. Two days before the shooting, in August, early afternoon, they arrived at the scene of the shoot for their last technical field trip, with the ultra-cool American director, seven kilometres north of Hajógyári Island, to an office building. Suddenly, the music began to play loudly. The Sziget festival’s main rehearsals were in full swing, and in two days, on our filming days, the festival would start.  "We stood there, and we began to think about how to soundproof this house, and, of course, very quickly, it turned out to be impossible. But in the meantime, those hundreds of square meters of public property permits were filed. There was a moment when I felt it collapse on me. We would need to build an open space office with 80-100 people at a new site that was then unknown. It can't be a studio, nor public space. We can't get a license in this short amount of time. There also needs to be enough space for 50 cars, trucks, and the star trailer. Also, we can be there in 15 minutes to continue our tour with the super-important crew. Oh, and be immediately chartered." - he says. "At that moment, it's a terrible feeling, and it crushes everyone: production, visual designer, producer, everyone, because it's a giant American commercial with a Hollywood star, and there's a lot of money at stake. But somehow I remembered that in the Corvin district, that was under reconstruction, there's a new office building, and there's a lot of construction sites around it. And there was this guy – and I'll always be grateful to him – who handled the lease. Half an hour later, we were back in the Corvin district, and in 48 hours, the decorating team turned the empty floor into a working office, with family pictures, desks, and elevators,” – and we found our happy ending.

The answer to the question of whether it is worth looking for someone to be responsible is that, of course, the responsibility belongs to the location manager, but you also have to accept that you cannot be prepared for everything. We had another surprise before shooting in a cave in Tata. When they had already spoken to the Forest Service, the army, the highway patrol, with all the organisations that could carry out loud activities in the area from target practice to chopping wood, road construction to freight transport. Half an hour after the start of shooting, Attila Pataky, the leader of the popular Hungarian band Edda starts singing "Come here, crazy", and then their other hit songs. They would have recorded sound, a dramatic scene, and it was obvious that it was impossible to do in the noise. What happens now? The director yells, the foreign producer goes crazy, and if anyone here has a responsibility, it's got to be him. They had no prior information about the beer festival in Tatabánya, where Edda performed. There is simply a limit to how many things can be modelled before.

And speaking of rage, filming is always a heightened state of excitement, a tremendous amount of stress and a desire to comply. But for his part, instead of going crazy, he chooses and recommends a good laugh.

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Abroad Films, Fri, 01 Oct 2021 08:46:31 GMT