By Matt Bennett
In the past, when one considered a career in film they often set their sights on “The Entertainment Capital of the World” – Los Angeles, California. Home of Hollywood and major film studios like 20th Century Fox, a move there seemed paramount. However, after the Bayou State’s Motion Picture Investor Tax Credit began rolling in 2002, many in the industry found more consistent work in another L.A.
Paul Kobetz, a Louisiana native himself, successfully earned a bachelor’s degree in film and makes a living doing what he loves – all in his home state. After graduating from The University Of New Orleans, Kobetz, whether it was in casting or being a camera assistant, accepted almost any job in the field he could find. During the first film he worked on from start to finish, God’s Not Dead, Kobetz took on the role of set production assistant.
“Set PAs along with the assistant directors are in charge of essentially managing the set as they shoot,” said Kobetz. “They’re responsible for keeping track of time, all of the extras, the actors, making sure that all of the other departments know where we are and what exactly it is that we’re doing in this particular shot or that particular shot. They’re sort of the people who steer the ship so to speak on a day-to-day basis as the crew shoots.”
For the last three years though, Kobetz worked on site long before the crew set up initial scenes and even after the director yelled, “that’s a wrap” with his job in the locations department.
“Anything that is a real world place that’s not a set, the locations department is responsible for finding and that’s done via scouting,” said Kobetz.
“You go out and take photographs and make contacts and then from there, the producers and the director and all of the department heads go around and visit all of those various places that you’ve compiled and they decide ultimately which ones are going to be the actual places that they shoot at.”
The location’s job continues though even after a decision gets made. Kobetz’s department also arranges contracts and works out any special filming circumstances with the property owners. Obviously blockbuster films often feature action-packed scenes and before any destructive ones get shot the locations department must first get approval from the landlords.
“Like ‘we need to ram a car through your garage.’ Anything like that we have to try and basically convince them, usually via money, to let us do that,” said Kobetz.
Having assumed many different roles in filmmaking, and after working on movies like Oblivion and Fantastic Four, when asked about his dream position Kobetz replied, “Anybody who works on a movie or TV show for even a short amount of time will immediately understand the best job to have is being a producer.”
But for now, for those interested in just getting their start in the industry, Kobetz certainly recommends networking and internships for college students but once out of school strongly advises against working for free.
“The fact is, if it’s something that you want to do for a living you need to treat it like that.”