The often quoted line “location as character” is a cliché but definitely true. Location is such a key component of good work. And particularly in music video and commercials, it can act as a great visual shortcut to mood, tone and feel.
I always start with location and cast, often trying to combine them. If we shoot in a barber, cast the barber, if we shoot in a pub, cast the patrons.
Just as I dislike the use of extras agencies for talent and prefer street casting, I don’t like locations which are on people’s books already. The staples of last-minute music video or commercial shooting. Those websites are depressing.
Where possible I try and find fresh locations that haven’t been filmed before. I like filming up North for this reason.
Manchester Pets and Aquatics:
I’ve always been slightly repulsed by the place. When I was a kid, there were rumours that they had an alligator and a jaguar in the basement. As a teenager I went in first thing in the morning on LSD. I remember the feeling vividly. Maybe that’s why I’ve ended up filming back there twice. The negative atmosphere in there is palpable.
Dalston, Moda Barbers:
I love pale green. We’re in the process of painting our house pale green. I also love proper barbers, particularly within immigrant communities. Moda is a good Turkish barbers that is also painted pale green. I love the simplicity of this location for the scene in The Shoes “Time To Dance”.
Barcelona, Billares Monforte:
Snooker Hall. I love Snooker Halls. I like the feeling of quiet and escape. I spent much of my teens in Rainbow Snooker Hall in Manchester, and have filmed there since, and in other ones. In Barcelona, for a San Miguel commercial, we shot in a great snooker hall, casting local players. It was a perfect location because we also managed to shoot a number of vignettes there; a back room doubled as a boxer’s changing room, the staircase became a lovers’ hallway, and a doorway became a 60s concert venue. It made production happy. The place had a lovely atmosphere, steeped in history and the echoes of many lives.