There's more to making a movie than just great acting or directing.
In the old days, movies — even the big epics — were shot on studio back lots. Tara, that iconic Gone With the Wind plantation, was made of plywood and papier maché.
These days, movie locations are mostly real, though. And they're found by location scouts, who are often the first people hired for a film.
Should be easy work, right? You drive around town, spot a house you think could work for a film, drive back home? Not quite.
Each year, NPR's Susan Stamberg profiles behind-the-scenes pros who help make the movies happen. This is the second of two stories for 2011.
In downtown Los Angeles one recent afternoon, location manager John Panzarella was working on a bridge he'd found, staging a car chase for the Justin Timberlake movie Now. It's one of a long list of locales he had scouted for the film.
"In many scripts you get about 40 locations," Panzarella says. "In this picture, there are over 100 locations."
And he has to find them all — bridges, tunnels, office buildings, apartments, beaches. Then, once shooting starts, he has to manage every aspect of every location.
On Location With Doug Dresser
Credit: Courtesy Doug Dresser (except as noted)
His job includes "setting up parking, making arrangements with all the neighbors, making the deals with the places we're going to be filming, and then sort of babysitting the whole crew and make sure everybody plays nice together," he explains.
A period film presents particular challenges. On 1997's L.A. Confidential — set in the 1950s — Panzarella was responsible for what's called "anachronism removal."
Take the stripes on the road: Today's are yellow. In '50s L.A., Panzarella says, "there were no double yellow stripes.
"So everywhere we went, we had to get permission to change the yellows to double whites."
They took down satellite dishes everywhere they went, took garbage cans off the streets, crime bars off the windows.
"Everywhere we went, we had to make it perfect period '50s," Panzarella says.
The full story can be read on NPR's website (http://www.npr.org/2011/02/25/134032333/for-location-scouts-its-all-about-making-the-scene).