It also helps that, besides owning such a beautiful home, the Goodens are well-versed in what is — and isn’t — acceptable in negotiations. As Mr. Alpert recalled, sometimes homeowners can make a location manager’s job extra difficult with extreme demands.
In one story line in “Big Little Lies,” Celeste plans to leave her abusive husband, so Mr. Alpert’s team went searching for an apartment that she could move into. They found a place they thought would be perfect, at least until “the homeowner started requesting all sorts of bizarre things from us,” he said.
“Some I won’t share,” he added. “But one ask included adding wording into the contract itself that he could take a picture with Nicole Kidman. I stated that I could not agree to that on paper, but offered up that I would ask Nicole. Knowing Nicole she most likely would have done it.” But the homeowner demanded a promise on paper.
“At that point I said ‘Thank you, I’ll get back to you,’ and I walked outside, called my team, and we immediately started scouting for a new apartment,” Mr. Alpert said.
That experience affirmed something that Mr. Alpert firmly believes: When searching for a perfect location, on the waterfront or not, it’s often the owners — not the places — that are the most crucial factor. Unlike the cast and crew, who might shoot at a location for a few days, a location manager can be on site for weeks.
He said that forging friendships is key to a successful shoot. One of the most critical things to manage, Mr. Alpert said, is not what you’re seeing onscreen, but everything that you’re not.
“Even if we’re shooting in someone’s house and we’re only shooting in the living room, we’re in every other room, and we’re three blocks down the road,” he said. “That’s where you have to really go out of your way to ingratiate yourself and become friendly with the area where you shoot so you don’t get into a situation where they want to kick you out.”
Despite his title, his real job, Mr. Alpert joked, is not location management. “I call it location mothering,” he said.