Location, location, location
"I mean, the whole idea of movies was it was special to go and see - you went to a movie theatre to see something that was magical and amazing, in a very special location." Bob Balaban.
The magic of a film can always be attributed to the location that the film is set in. A location is not just a space where the characters will play out their roles, it is more than that. A location is the space that becomes a character in its own right, a new world, familiar, but all so alien, sets the mood and the tone of the film, and becomes the overall psychological precipice for the duration of the film. In a lot of ways, it is one of the most important elements for consideration, for it becomes the canvas that the director will draw and paint on.
The photo on the left was taken on location for Lifting Clouds, a short film I directed which is in post production. It was filmed on an estate in the Warrnambool area, isolated, beautiful, dreamy, warm and cold, and quite ethereal. It had to be to all of those things to encompass the characters that were becoming embroiled in the grandmother's ailing health during the film. This particular image captures that essence. A small dilapidated cubby house, representing the past; a time when children were at play, having fun without a care in the world. I had to do a bit of research to find the right location, and the Warrnambool area provided all of the elements that I was looking for to add to the film. It allowed the film to take on a life of its own, grow, and a lot of this has to do with the fact that the location was a character in itself.
Lord of the Rings was filmed against the backdrop of New Zealand, all at once familiar to the audience, but alien as well. It becomes a new world that no one had ever seen, sweeping mountains, green expanse, vast, full of wonder.
We all know New Zealand, but never like this. New Zealand is akin with adventure and Peter Jackson having been born there knew this, but was able to provide a new vision for it. Throughout the film we see that the location is bewitching, fascinating, spellbinding, completely tantalising each and everyone of our senses.
The psychological importance of a location is paramount. How can anyone forget Bates motel? It encapsulates the state of mind of Norman Bates; a sexual deviant, disturbed, violent. Without this backdrop the film no doubt would have been very different. The house portrays all of those qualities, breathing them upon the audience.
Mad Max, (1979) was filmed in various areas of Melbourne. Myself, having grown up in the north of Melbourne some of the sights and roads were very familiar to me, so was the fact that in the late 70's the landscape was very barren, lonely, wide, isolating.
Cars were few on the roads, houses spread very far apart, and this in itself lends to Max Rockatansky's need for speed, vengeance, and doing this totally alone.
Much like a novel, the setting, being the backbone of the story, is also a character. This is the same in film. Location takes on a life of its own, growing, changing, reflecting the story at it evolves. It simply becomes another avenue for the story to be told, directors acknowledge and aspire to this, seeking to achieve the 'magical and amazing'.