I’m in the strange (and semi-sleepless) situation of having our apartment rented out for the day while a Ewan McGregor film is produced in our building. The industry of urban film location scouts seems particularly fascinating to me, I have to say; you put out some flyers in a certain neighborhood, say, asking for something really quite specific (in our case, south-facing windows on the fourth floor or higher) and I suppose you then just hope that someone in a specific building will respond or perhaps you just deal with what you get (and I wonder if there are films out there whose screenplays, or whole characters, were actually adapted based on location availability). But the idea that, out there somewhere, there is a little black book, or a huge three-ring binder, a whole mythic cabinet, full of hand-me-down insights about buildings and rooms and rooftops and halls and stairwells scattered throughout the city is amazing to me, a collection of first-hand urban research that architects would do very well to access and study. Advanced film location as an esoteric science of the city. Architects could rent these binders by the hour, interviewing film set installation professionals about the lived reality and emotional impact, the narrative demands and implications, of increasingly precise spatial parameters. Rooms with wall-to-wall carpet on the Upper West Side, with east-facing windows, are apparently perfect for divorcee clients… Meanwhile, location scouts drive lonely around the city, maps in hand, looking up through odd-angled windows at barely glimpsable pieces of punched tin ceilings, imagining the internal lives of yet-to-be-acted future characters. Taking notes. Filing photographs. Assembling a dossier on this unpredictable constellation of rooms, charting the human impact of the city to a degree that no other industry can ever quite have.
(Note: This is actually the first blog post I’ve written entirely on an iPhone, out for breakfast, typing very slowly with one finger… a method that seems to require more practice!)