7 May 2009
You watch the movie you enjoy the act,you see the actors play on a background that sometimes has more impact on you than the actor himself. The set , the scene or the background is something that a director uses to convey a message to you.
That is the job of a "Location Manager", Take Kokayi Ampah for instance. He was the location manager for such films as Soloist and The Shawshank Redemption. It was Ampah who helped the filmmakers pick all the alleys and underpasses that give the Soloist its distinctly gritty look or that glorious tree in The Shawshank Redemption, the one where Morgan Freeman finds hope and a letter from his friend? Ampah and his crew helped pick that. He also scouted the black sand beaches that stood in for Iwo Jima in Clint Eastwood's Flags of Our Fathers.
Kokayi Ampah has been a part of the entertainment industry for over thirty-two years. His career began as a member of the Black Voices Training Program at a PBS affiliate television station in St. Paul, Minnesota. While in St. Paul, he met Gordon Parks, Sr. who directed "Shaft’s Big Score" and "Leadbelly." Mr. Parks allowed Kokayi to visit the film sets and to observe filmmaking first hand and ask the technicians about the work they did. Kokayi later relocated to Los Angeles to pursue filmmaking. With the assistance of his friend, Ted Lange, (who played Isaac on the "Love Boat" television series) he was hired as a Production Assistant on "Roots II television mini-series. Kokayi would later become an Assistant Location Manager for "Roots." His career in television continued for the next eight years as he served as Key Location Manager for a variety of television series including "The Fall Guy," "The A Team," "Knightrider" and "Cagney and Lacey." His entry into the feature film arena came when he was asked to interview for a Steven Spielberg film. After the interview Kokayi walked away as the Key Location Manager for the "Color Purple." Since that time Kokayi has headed the location teams for such feature films as "White Men Can’t Jump," "In The Line of Fire," "Shawshank Redemption," "Mars Attacks," "Amistad," "Space Cowboys" and "Bedazzled." In 1995, Kokayi was honored as the first recipient of the California Film Commission’s "Location Professional of the Year in the Feature Division".
Source: npr.org, towerofyouth.org