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Friday, 08 January 2016 21:07

Profile: "Straight Outta Compton" Location Manager Alison Taylor

Written by  Dyana Carmella
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Location Manager Alison Taylor recently took home the California on Location Award for Location Team of the Year - Features for Straight Outta Compton.

The edgy biopic tells the story of NWA, the iconic rap group from California who rose to fame in the 1980s and revolutionized hip-hop culture. Directed F. Gary Gray. 

When Taylor initially read the script, she knew that the project would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. “My initial reaction was excitement,” says Taylor. “I knew exactly who NWA was and the story behind them. I knew it was going to be [shot] all over L.A. and I knew it was going to be hard, but it was exciting to me because I grew up with that music and I was a huge fan.” Below, Taylor shares her thoughts about the film industry, crazy demands from directors, film reboots, and what she would be doing if not working as a location manager. 

Quality you most like in a director?

I love when the director clearly communicates his or her vision for the project. A well-prepared director is able to share their thoughts and ideas with both the production designer and location manager while also being open to entertaining suggestions that may be slightly different but are still in keeping with the overall vision.

Quality you most like in a producer? 

My favorite producers understand and respect the unique challenges that come with the location department. They have realistic expectations and help problem solve rather than focusing on blame.

Favorite place in California to shoot/work? 

Los Angeles

Three favorite films? 

Friday, The Fugitive, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (by the way, I also love Les Miserables in all formats).

Most memorable work moment to date? 

During the filming of The Soloist we had several homeless people from shelters working as actors in the film, one of whom was a woman named Lee Ann. Lee Ann refused to take us up on an offer of a hotel room and wanted to sleep near the set. As I was down on my hands and knees at 4 a.m. asking Lee Ann to please come out from under the craft service truck (where she had slept all night) so that we could move it, I felt completely confused about the fine lines between art and life, exposure and exploitation, and happiness and sadness.

Place you go to unwind? 

Sedona, Arizona

Craziest demand someone has asked of you? 

When F. Gary Gray, the director of Straight Outta Compton, stood on the sidewalk and said he wanted to completely close Laurel Canyon Blvd. right by the freeway onramp to re-create the L.A. riots.

Your biggest inspiration? 

Nature. I’m not a camper, hiker or any sort of nature buff. However, I am fascinated with oceans and mountains and forests, etc. and how they continue to “be” and “do” no matter what is going on our exhausting lives. Nature makes me feel as though nothing that I see as a problem is really that deep on the grand scale of things.

Favorite movie scene? 

Al Pacino in Sea of Love. His character goes home with Ellen Barkin’s character and thinks he sees a gun in her purse, so he believes that she is the killer he’s been chasing.  His erratic behavior while he tries to decide what to do as he waits for her to come out of the bathroom has always been a favorite scene of mine.

Film reboot you would love to work on? 

I’m not a fan of film reboots. I wish that I could have worked on The Talented Mr. Ripley because the locations were beautiful, but I wouldn’t want to see it redone.

How would you describe the entertainment industry?

“Exciting” and “a trip.”

Best life advice you were ever given? 

“Don’t sweat the small stuff.” My father has said this to me my whole life.

Most influential person in your life? 

My father Robert Taylor. He taught me how to keep things in perspective and the importance of using good judgment. He along with my mother also taught me to enjoy life and to live it to the fullest all while being mindful and understanding of the circumstances of others — to be considerate in my joy.

In this business how do you keep your sanity? 

I keep my sanity by focusing on my children. I have worked on a number of projects that have taken me to the edge, and I always bring myself back by thinking about that which is most important to me — my children.

Person in your life you could thank over and over? 

I could thank my mother Bettye-Ann Taylor over and over. She is not a perfect parent but she has been the best mother in the world. I believe that I got my coping skills from her.

What is your motto? 

“Put it in writing.”

If you weren’t location managing, what would you be doing? 

If I were not location managing, I would be working in travel and tourism.

Your dream for 2016? 

Once my daughter graduates from high school in June, I would like to go “on location” outside of Los Angeles. While I love working here, I am ready for a change — an adventure.

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