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March 6, 2013

Working Magic, Occupations of the Film Industry: Introducing Matt Noonan, Location Manager

A film shoot in the Nation’s Capital is a logistical nightmare, especially after dark. Extremely bright lighting and the juxtaposition of film crew activity and D.C. iconic landmarks makes for a surrealistic view of a shoot on which Matt Noonan served as location manager. Photo by Betty Belanus

A film shoot in the Nation’s Capital is a logistical nightmare, especially after dark. Extremely bright lighting and the juxtaposition of film crew activity and D.C. iconic landmarks makes for a surrealistic view of a shoot on which Matt Noonan served as location manager. Photo by Betty Belanus

Matt Noonan is often the first on a location film set and the last to leave. He also probably has more control over what happens on the location set than the director.

When you think about the true scope of making a movie—the sheer quantities of people and equipment involved to shoot five minutes of a two-hour feature—it’s amazing that such a huge production can move off a stage set at all. But for those times when a studio shot simply won’t do—that is, when a film is shot “on location”—move they do. And Matt Noonan is the man in charge. He works in film as a location manager, which means pretty much exactly what it sounds like. He’s responsible not only for finding the right location—one that both looks good on camera and is actually functional—he’s also responsible for making sure everything goes smoothly throughout the day. No detail is too small, because even small mistakes can snowball into much larger problems. From making sure everyone on the crew has parking in the morning to directing trash pick-up at the end of the day, Matt does it all.

This is the third podcast in a series highlighting different jobs in the film industry. Matt was
interviewed by Betty Belanus and Mike West. In this episode, Matt talks about how to translate a location from script page to three-dimensional reality, the importance of professionalism on a film set, and the few simple rules that make a day on a location shoot go smoothly.

Listen to an interview with Matt Noonan. Recorded with Betty Belanus on September 13, 2010.

Read a transcript of the interview excerpt.

Find out more about NoonanFilms.

Julia Fernandez will graduate from Smith College in 2014 with a B.A in American Studies focusing on popular culture. This past year, as an intern at the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, she worked on the future Festival program on occupations in the film industry, conducting interviews with local film professionals and creating this podcast series. 

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