As a Unit Manager/Location Manager for film, TV and Commercials, Alex Tridimas has searched out abandoned warehouses, palatial private residences and deserted playgrounds. Now, nine years after graduating from Edge Hill University, he has found a new location– working for a commercial production company in Chicago.
“It was a bit like starting again as I had spent a long time building up my contacts in the UK, “ says Alex, “but social media was a huge help. I joined several locations forums and within half an hour someone had sent me a list of contacts in Chicago.
“I spent my first few months in the US working for free as a volunteer while waiting for my visa, and this gave me a good insight into the American TV industry which helped when I came to apply for proper jobs.”
Liverpool-born Alex also found that it wasn’t just his impressive CV, which includes credits on Doctors, Jonathan Strange and Fresh Meat among many others, that opened doors for him in America.
“People were intrigued by my accent,” laughs Alex, “although they don’t always know where it’s from. Once they know I’m from Liverpool, it’s an instant conversation starter. If you’re trying to get someone to do something for you, it helps to build up trust and win them over. Also, when you’re trying to establish yourself in a new place and in a competitive industry, having a memorable accent is useful.”
As a Location Manager for Chicago-based company 41EightySeven, Alex was responsible for finding the perfect location to shoot commercials for a range of high profile clients.
“People often think the Location Manager just sits around on set doing nothing,” says Alex, “but all our hard work happens before shooting starts. As well as researching dozens of potential locations, we are also in charge of the liaison and logistics side of the shoot, making sure all the necessary permits and parking are sorted and ensuring the location is ready when the crew arrive. Sometimes you might have to manage a big explosion or something, but usually you’re just dealing with any problems that arise on set.”
Before becoming a Location Manager, Alex worked his way up in the UK film and TV industry as a runner, production assistant and unit manager. It’s this willingness to try anything and accept jobs that might not be your first choice that he thinks is key to a successful career in film and TV.
“When you graduate you’re full of grand ideas, but the reality is very few people are going to walk straight into producing or directing. You have to be prepared to start at the bottom, to do the worst jobs on set and work your way up. You have to be patient and realistic about what you can achieve.”
Keen to get back into filmmaking, Alex flew back into the UK recently to work on the critically acclaimed ITV crime drama DCI Banks.
“I’ve previously directed and edited a short film that was shown at the Cannes Film Festival, and worked on the BAFTA-winning film Marvellous, so I always wanted to get back into filmmaking. I arrived off the plane on a Saturday and was straight back into work on the Sunday at DCI Banks on a dreaded night shoot! I’m currently Unit Managing on an Imax documentary ‘Bates of the Amazon’ in Macclesfield and if a movie comes to town, I would definitely like to work on a feature film again.”
“The good thing about this industry is there are lots of different routes to the top. You might not always work on things you like, or even in the area you want, but if you work hard and make the right contacts, you can make your own pathway.”