Location, location, location: A close-up with Mark Podolski at Pacific Palms Resort
Location, location, location Images
For many films, the setting is as important to the scene as the characters, dialogue, and action. Location managers spend hours scouting the perfect setting at the perfect price and our own Mark Podolski, CMP Director of Sales & Marketing, knows the ins-and-outs of the film production business with over 30 years of experience in the industry.
Now, Mark’s sharing his best advice and tricks of the trade to finding the perfect location for your script and why when looking for filming locations in Los Angeles Pacific Palms Resort should be at the top of your list.
What information do you need from a location manager to make sure Pacific Palms Resort is a good match for their film?
One of the great things about filming at Pacific Palms Resort is the variety of venues and styles we have for location managers, so when I get called about a project that needs a modern looking set for a scene as well as an old-fashioned feel for another scene, I know we can meet the director and producer’s expectations. I like to understand the specific feel they’re looking for as we have a vast array of looks to choose from and that way when they come to check out the resort, we can save time by showing them exactly what they’re looking for so they can report back to the director and producer.
What are three common questions location managers have for you and how do you respond?
Three things I think location managers focus on are, film-friendliness, availability, and affordable pricing. I strive to be the #1 film-friendly location within the 30-Mile Studio Zone and from what my location manager friends tell me from reviews on Locolist.com we’re doing a great job. My goal is to be flexible, both with advance planning, on-set changes, and letting the film crew control the appearance of their set. Next, is matching the venue they need and available dates. The third item is pricing, which varies based on the size and type of the project. We don’t have fixed pricing because we need to be accommodating and flexible. We work with managers to figure out what’s best in each case.
About how long does it take to scout a location?
It depends on whether the scout is focused on only seeing a few scene options or wants to tour the whole property. If they’re looking at one or two specific scenes, it may take 20 minutes whereas looking at and photographing all 18 holes on the golf course may take a couple hours. As long as the location manager gets what they came for, I’m happy to tour the whole property with them to showcase the variety of options.
How far out in advance do you like to meet with location managers?
That depends on the project, as commercials are on a shorter production schedule, it may be one to two weeks in advance whereas a big-budget movie may know a few months in advance.
Which scene setting on the property is most popular?
I’d say our hotel lobby or either the indoor or outdoor restaurant vie for most popular as it’s a setting that can easily be manipulated. With the tropical look from our palm trees, it’s easy to make it seem like it’s being shot in Las Vegas or Hawaii without the extra cost of filming there. Our golf course has also seen its fair share of camera equipment.
When is your busiest time of year for filming?
There is no pattern in this industry, with the difference in schedules of TV shows, commercials, or movies. TV shows have more consistency, but commercials and movies are purely project-based and can pop up anytime, which is why it’s so important that we’re flexible.
What’s the best filming experience you’ve had at Pacific Palms Resort?
That’s a tough one! I’ve enjoyed working with all the crews we’ve had here, but we had a great working relationship with CBS’s "The Mentalist," as they filmed here almost every season. We also had the pleasure of hosting the Call of Duty® commercial and that was an excellent experience and very fun to see our lobby completely redesigned for their needs. One thing I would love to see happen here would be a long-term recurring scene relationship with a television series.
Check out the Call of Duty®: Ghosts live-action trailer filmed partly at Pacific Palms Resort:
Do you have any advice for location managers scouting Los Angeles?
I’ve heard my share of filming experiences turned into nightmares from location managers, mostly due to lack of communication during the planning phase or even worse, during the execution. Location managers are definitely at the mercy of the property representative and I’d suggest double checking the reputation of the site rep and seeing what experiences others have had at that location. I think communication is extremely important for both sides to help everyone stick to a schedule and the budget. Along with the rep’s communication style, I’d look at how film-friendly the property is and how flexible they can be to making your filming experience a success. I think location managers are also attuned to looking for any obstacles to filming at a specific location, and we’re not always an obvious choice since we’re not in downtown Los Angeles or other common destinations. Thankfully, all the managers I’ve worked with have assured me that filming here was a great option according to their directors and producers and it wasn’t a problem to get to or figure out budgets.
We thank Mark for the great work he does at immortalizing Pacific Palms Resort in film and television. It’s always been a pleasure hosting crews and cast, and very fun for our staff to watch!