One of Pia’s earliest childhood memories was watching her father (Ted Emery) in the control room of the ABC Ripponlea studios directing a multi-cam music show. She was hooked from that moment. In 1992 Pia gained work at Network 7 and spent five years working as a runner on various shows. She credits this time as essential to her becoming a location manager as she learnt to commit the roads of Melbourne to memory. She would always travel with a Melways, yellow pages and white pages in her car (pre-internet) to find last minute production requests from the road. She still uses a Melways.
A mediator, negotiator, traffic controller and everything in-between, Pia has specialised as the on-set location manager for many large-scale US projects that filmed in Melbourne. These include Ghostrider, The Starter Wife, The Pacific and Knowing, which was her biggest day to-date, managing logistics for the closing sequence. With 330 crew, 16 essential trucks and 1,500 extras, that day kept her very busy.
Working in a male dominated role, Pia recalls early on in her career being told by a crew member that location managing was “A man’s job.” She laughed and reminded him she was in charge of parking his truck at each location and how far did he want to take that tone? She learnt to stand her ground without taking anything personally.
For Pia it has been a delight to watch more women join the ranks including Mel Dunstone, Donna Harvey and Nicci Dillon. She credits location manager Fran Lugt and First AD Pauline Walker as having huge influences on her career.
Pia considers it a privilege and a joy to show off Melbourne to fellow Victorians, Australians and those around the world. Though film crews can be one big dysfunctional family, she has laughed herself to tears more times than she can remember.
Pia’s advice to women wishing to become a location manager – get to know Melbourne and its many diverse looks. Learn to drive a manual car and reverse park. Check any attitude at the door – location managing is a service job, and the job is to service the crew’s filming needs despite how tired and grumpy they get. The job has it challenges but every day is different and you will never be bored.