5 Minutes With... / Lauren York / CEO of UK Locations

This month we spent five minutes catching up with Lauren, who runs our favourite Location Company, UK Locations. Lauren and her team have helped us on a number of shoots all over the UK and have always been able to help with our often very strange location requests! 

Can you tell us a bit about yourself Lauren?

Born and bred in Yorkshire my loves are my family, business and strong, black coffee!  I am the Chief Executive for UK Locations - the North’s most prolific locations partner and agency. My role is to make UK Locations the best it can be – providing first-rate customer service, unique locations and the most amazing team! We’ve grown considerably over the past year and my current focus is moving the business into new emerging markets and setting up exciting partnerships, which will develop our service lines.

How did you get into being a Location Agent?

After University, I worked in the Location Department at Yorkshire Television (now ITV) working on productions such as Fat Friends, Emmerdale and The Royal. I absolutely loved it and it gave me great experience in what a shoot location needs to be and the logistics involved in creating the perfect shoot. I had always wanted to run my own business, so to gain more insight, I moved into the corporate world and was the Marketing Manager at FTSE 100 companies managing large scale advertising campaigns.

UK Locations was already in my family and was owned by my brother in law, Nick Jones. Devastatingly, Nick died in a car crash in 2010 and it was soon after that I was asked if I could help keep this business going and I’ve never looked back. It has been daunting and scary and I admit I’ve made mistakes along the way, but I have loved stepping out of my comfort zone and I’m hugely proud of where UK Locations is now and what the team and I have created.

What’s your favourite part of the job?

The people, for sure. I think it’s a huge honour that we have access to any of our locations - from RIBA award winning modern masterpieces to cool council estates. I love building relationships and really getting to know our clients and location partners and as much as possible, I go out and see the locations for myself, as it’s what keeps me passionate about my work.

What’s the most challenging part of running a busy location company?

This year with the economic and political climate being what it is there has been a definite theme of tighter budgets and timescales. Also, with the growth online video we have seen a need for different types of locations. These changes have been challenging, however, we’re lucky to have a small and agile team and we’ve been able to respond quickly and have delivered relevant locations to match clients briefs and budgets.

What’s the most unusual location request you’ve been asked for?

A cruise ship! It’s definitely not our usual request, but we did manage to pull it off!

For anyone thinking of becoming a Location Agent do you have any top tips?

Understand your market and what sets you apart from the rest. Our USP is providing locations outside of London with the current focus being on the North of England. We take great pride in our expertise and we listen to our Clients and Location Partners. We want to help them both get the best experience and walk away from a shoot feeling delighted.

We are always striving to be the best we can and we use customer insight to improve our service and develop innovative services. We’re currently working on a project which includes using drones to present locations to the highest standards and make it easier for clients to understand the layout and logistics of the property. We’ll trial it, get customer feedback and if it’s works we’ll launch it next year.

What’s your favourite location on your books and why?

Favourite location: 2496 - this location offers so much variety and we’ve shot all types of shoots there. I also love working with this location owner - his values and work ethic is in line with ours - he’s flexible, positive and he always makes sure the client has an amazing customer experience.

UK Locations are based in Leeds, what’s the best thing about working in Leeds?

Leeds is the gateway to Yorkshire! It’s the hub for large dramas and films because of the array of production facilities, amazing locations and talented crew pool. We’re only 40 minutes from Manchester, which means we’re in the perfect spot to service shoots in Yorkshire and the North West.

And lastly, tell us something about yourself that people might not know?

I was the PA for the late, great Sir Bruce Forsyth on Play Your Cards Right. He was an absolute dream to work with and he taught me to salsa dance!