Courtesy: Universal Studios Florida location image 4, New York Delancey Street, courtesy of Laura M. Blair.
ORLANDO, FLA. – (Feb. 9, 2021) – The following interview with Line Producer and Location Manager Laura M. Blair was conducted by the Universal Studios Florida Production Group (USFPG).
Born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida, Laura’s high school introduction to TV production put her on the path to success in show business. After earning her B.A. in Film and Media Arts at the University of Tampa, she landed her first job on writer/director Laurie Collyer’s feature “Sunlight Jr.” – and she has never looked back. Diligently working in the art and location departments on numerous film, TV, and commercial productions between Tampa, Miami, and Jacksonville, she is now focused on locations and line producing from her Central Florida home base. Currently, the Assistant Locations Manager for season two of Warner Bros. Television’s critically acclaimed series “David Makes Man” based at Universal Studios Florida, Laura’s TV credits in locations management also include “The Right Stuff,” “One Strange Rock” and “Trailer Park Boys: Out of the Park.” Her growing credentials as a producer and production manager span features, TV series, and commercials.
Q: What do you feel is the biggest value for productions that shoot with us?
Laura: The convenience. Universal Studios Florida is the largest option for sound stage space in Central Florida, that includes full-service amenities upon request. And it’s situated close to dozens of hotels to accommodate any traveling cast, crew, and clients. It’s simple to get quotes, take tours, and work out terms. The staff is amazing and knows every inch of all the properties, along with what can be accomplished. Sometimes they know the answers to questions I haven’t even asked yet.
Q: What is the very first production you were involved with here, and what is the most recent?
Laura: The first project I was on which took full advantage of the Universal backlots and sound stages was season one of “David Make Man.” The company based its whole local production office in the dozens of available office spaces on the backlot. We built our sets in various sound stages and even popped into the theme parks on occasion. The USFPG team worked with us, navigating around their events and other productions happening at the same time, and it always worked out seamlessly. After that show, I have worked on several big and small productions on the Universal property, including season one of “The Right Stuff,” a few commercials, and currently, season two of “David Makes Man.”
Q: Which of our locations or stages have you worked on the most?
Laura: Mostly stages 19-22, all of which have their specific advantages. But I always think it’s great when we get to pop into the theme park. I may just be saying that because the Universal support team, especially when filming in the guest areas, takes on a lot of the hard work I would normally be doing out at a location elsewhere. They make everything safe and controlled, and it’s fun to see people walk by and get excited by what’s going on.
Q: Is there a USFPG location that’s a personal favorite?
Laura: My favorite location is Schwab’s, which is inside the Universal Orlando theme park. While filming in the park can be a logistic challenge, Universal team members do a spectacular job at making it as convenient as it can be. Schwab’s is great because it can play as a retro diner or a current-day ice cream shop/cafe. And I’m a big fan of practical locations that can read as different things.
Q: Any other major benefits for productions to shoot with us?
Laura: Because I work in Locations AND Production, I think there is a massive benefit in Universal being located so closely to hotel accommodations, food services, and stores. It is very convenient for departments to make last-minute runs for items; you have malls, hardware stores, groceries, etc., within 5-10 minutes. On top of that, any type of location you may need that you can’t get at Universal is within 20 minutes. Orlando is a very diverse area that can pull off the “anywhere USA” look, and that’s why productions come here. Pairing some “real world” locations with short company moves to your controlled sound stage builds is a huge deal.
Q: Can you think of any USFPG resource which “saved the day” on one of your projects?
Laura: There are ALWAYS fires to put out in production, and I have to say that the Orlando Film Office, ALL of the Orlando gear vendors, and the local crews have “saved the day” for me at least once on something. I’m so in love with the local film community here, and that includes the USFPG facilities, services, and team members. I can’t say enough good things about them.
To learn more about USFPG’s offerings, including its extensive support services, please visit https://www.universalstudios.com/studio/florida.
About Universal Studios Florida Production Group
The Universal Studios Florida Production Group is made up of production professionals whose role is to assist all productions filming in the soundstages and on the Universal Orlando properties. USFPG is also responsible for booking and maintaining the production offices, support spaces, stages, and crew parking to ensure everything is operating to a client’s satisfaction. The Universal Studios Florida stages have hosted thousands of film, TV, and commercial productions since inception in 1988. Please contact us at 877-612-3737, visit https://www.universalstudios.com/studio/florida, and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram at @usfpg.
For more stories like this, Florida Insider is your source for all things Florida. From business to nature, to sports and more, we have it all. Easy to read content at the palm of your hands and covering stories that matter.
Chris began his writing as a hobby while attending Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida. Today he and his wife live in the Orlando area with their three children and dog.