I often asked myself when I lived in Los Angeles what type of job I would have if I were forced to be in the film/television industry. Being the planner and lover-of-public-places that I am (is there a word for that?), I decided I would like to be a location scout. And working with Neutrino the other day got me thinking about camera shots and visualizing only what is captured in the shot instead of the entire context that buildings/street/parks, etc. are in. As planners we think about the whole, but location scouts look just inside the frame.
On my walk to work this morning, I decided to look through the frame and see what types of locations I could find. DC has some fabulous (and not so fabulous) architecture that could pass for other spots, making it a great place to film. Here were some of my thoughts as my overactive imagination got carried away.
This one looks like New Orleans for a few reasons: the buildings are right up against the sidewalk, the windows are extremely high (you know how I love tall windows!) and the house is slightly elevated over street level but the store is not. It’s also a little bit shabby, but not in a neglected way. To make this more like NoLA, I’d rough up the infrastructure and figure out a way to get a porch in the shot.
This reminds me of a trip I took to Yankee Stadium about 8 or 9 years ago, so it may not even look like this! Or I may be confused. But I remember seeing a part of NYC that looked very similar….wide boulevards, flat faced buildings of about 4-5 stories without much character. Does anyone know what part of town I’m thinking of?
I associate Philadelphia with lots of parks and historical monuments on every corner. The Liberty Bell is in a great park with lots of trees, so Logan here could by stretch of the imagination be in Philadelphia. I guess this could be any historical city or even a small town in middle America.
Ahh, Savannah. This house could be located on any one of those gorgeous squares (this one happens to be on a circle). I am instantly taken to scenes from “Midnight in the Garden of Evil” with this house, though it could use some good ol’ spanish moss hanging in a tree.
Chicago used a lot of bricks and arches so this could look like Chicago. Chicago looks like so many other parts of the country that really there isn’t one thing that defines the city – except it has such great architecture! Because they have a range of architectural styles, it’s a little hard to pinpoint one. Guess I would be siting this one for a specific historic movie. Which is really a question of the culture of each city and the identifying characteristics have vs. what we imagine and associate them to have.
Boston is such a lovely historic city, but so is NY, Philadelphia, Baltimore and DC. This shot reminds me of a family trip to Boston we took long ago and specifically of a certain street that sticks in my memory. No clue where we were, but I remember it looking a lot like this with a wide tree median with lots of shade. I love this street on my commute because I know I’m near New England and the east coast.
Welcome to Miami! Now, I know Miami has some great buildings and architecture, so it’s really sad that I associate that horrible 80s style and art deco with the city to this day. It is what it is. I halfway expect Don Johnson to walk out in the morning with his white sports coat and hop in an early 80s Corvette convertible. But I digress.
This reminds me of some of the beautiful buildings along 5th Avenue on the Upper East Side across from Central Park. The buildings are not usually the absolute most spectacular you’ve ever seen, but you know because of the location, historic value and wealth that resides in the building that there are some fabulous, jaw-dropping places inside. And note, this building must be across from Central Park since there is so much sunlight on the upper floors – most places in NY are identifiable because of the adjacent building shadows.
Once the playground for the wealthy, Newport RI can be seen in many embassies around town. If I knew more about architecture, I would tell you that these stone buildings in Newport, embassies in DC and other spots in New England were built around the same time then tell you what the influence was. But alas, I have no clue only hunches. Funny thing is, today this building is the American Coatings Association and they’ll never be able to coat/paint/side their building!
In case there is any doubt, yes, we are in Washington. When I walk to work I pass by the White House and even after a total of six years living here, that’s still pretty cool.
Since most of this tour was a domestic tour, I figure I’d better give a shout out to Europe who influenced the rest of this country so much. Well, the east coast more so than the west coast. I don’t think Europe built their beautiful churches with brick, so I wouldn’t use this in a movie. By the way, this is where Kennedy’s funeral mass took place in 1963 (Cathedral of St. Matthew).
The least favorite part of my journey to work is getting downtown (not because I’m getting close to work, I promise). This reminds me of downtown Houston, though I doubt there would be so many pedestrians…maybe it’s a winter shot. I’m just not a fan of this architecture, or of Houston in general, so I’m putting the two together.
And this is the view once I get to work. I love it. This one reminds me more of Chicago than the previous one. I overlook Connecticut Avenue, and that’s very much a part of the city that feels like Washington.
So, what did we learn? Planners see things in context so it’s good to step outside (or inside) of that from time to time. I have a beautiful commute. Cities are branded and marketed in ways that our images/memories of each can be vastly different from the truth. I am well traveled as I have been to all the places mentioned. I should stick to my day job for sure.