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THE ALTERNATIVES | 15 MINUTES WITH ...

Todd Christensen

March 18, 2004|Leslee Komaiko

Location scout and manager Todd Christensen has worked on films from "Pearl Harbor" to "Stuart Little 2." He recently scouted locations for a feature set in 1950s Los Angeles.

People imagine location scouts just drive around the city photographing buildings and knocking on doors. Is this accurate? Once you look at a location, you have to find out what the other neighbors are like. You have to understand where to park the company to keep them in close proximity. You have to deal with whether you can close roads down ... and restrictions that any business area might impose.

You must get yelled at on occasion. I've never been yelled at scouting. Sometimes during the filming process people get upset. Maybe it's the number of people who show up. Maybe a truck parks in front of their place, or someone walks across their yard.

Do you keep a wad of bills in your pocket to placate people? That used to be the case. Not so much anymore. In most neighborhoods, people just want to know what's going on and they want people to be courteous. We do make monetary settlements but we don't like to be taken advantage of.

Would you let someone shoot in your home? Yes. Without hesitation.

Things must go wrong. That's why there's insurance. I've had to refinish a floor and fix nicks on wall. It's always been minor. I've never blown up a house -- yet.

Are there cities Los Angeles can't play? New Orleans would be tough. But there are homes that look like New Orleans. What they do is get as much as they can here and then shoot establishing shots in those cities.

If you gave an Oscar for locations, which 2003 film would've won? I like "Big Fish" a lot and [location manager] Robin Citrin. It was sort of a magical film and it had great-looking locations.

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