' Cinema Romantico: Countdown to the Oscars: Film Location Awards

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Countdown to the Oscars: Film Location Awards

It’s been almost ten years since I arrived in Chicago and set off into the wilds of downtown for a job interview and emerged from the office building cozied up between a few much more towering edifices and looked up and did a double take and mentally gasped and internally cried: “OH MY GOD! THAT’S THE ‘ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING’ BUILDING! AM I GOING TO WORK NEXT TO THE ‘ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING’ BUILDING?!” For several years, I very much did, and as a zealot of the film de cinema, the rush never really dissipated for me.

Film locations, in other words, are all around me. Yet it’s not simply the “Adventures in Babysitting” building nor the Cameron Frye painting at the Art Institute (which totally has its own name, FYI) or the Jewelers Building where Batman stood aloft looking down over a twinkling Gotham that looked so much more dazzling than when it was Pittsburgh or that other city somewhere on the east coast. No, there are so many more, so many you might never suspect, so many that are so small but so crucial. Locations like the Black Rock, the bar just a couple blocks down from me where bits and pieces of “Drinking Buddies” was filmed, or The Double Door, where “High Fidelity” ended and where I was less than a week ago, or the St. Vincent de Paul Parish where Kelly Macdonald in my beloved “The Merry Gentleman” visited and which I pass by, oh, say, twice a month during my favorite walk in the city.


It was my friend and film blogger and/or filmmaker extraordinaire Alex Withrow of And So It Begins... who brought to my attention the existence of the Location Managers Guild of America (LMGA) and, even better, the LMGA Awards, scheduled this year on March 7 at The Wallis Beverly Hills. Film Location awards! Of course! It makes so much sense! Let’s say “Birdman” wins Best Picture. You will, whether consciously or not, remember the St. James Theater as much as the bird costume. Sure, you’ll remember the visual effects of “Interstellar” but also lingering in the back of your mind will be the locales of Alberta, Canada.

The LMGA recognizes Outstanding Feature Film and Outstanding Achievement By A Location Professional and Outstanding Film Commission and, heck, despite only having had an awards show for two years they have a Lifetime Achievement Award! The vaunted Eva Monley Award, bestowed last year upon Alexander Payne, no doubt for this. We here at Cinema Romantico felt there was no choice but to hop on the bandwagon.

1st Annual Cinema Romantico Film Location Awards


Night Moves. Aidan Sleeper, Location Manager. It’s not simply the radiant foliage of Oregon standing at attention throughout but the barn functioning as a sort of eco-friendly Studio 54 where club-hoppers drink out of mason jars and listen to fiddles as well as the bouts of pro-environmental pissed off poetry that director Kelly Reichardt captures whether in the fleeting image of apocalyptic timber or a white collar home with a fake waterfall in the backyard whose real-life owner must not have realized Ms. Reichardt employed it to give said owner the middle finger.


Only Lovers Left Alive. Chris-Teena Constas (Detroit). The Tangier locations as managed by Mohamed Benhmamane are spectacular in their own right, no doubt, but what Jarmusch’s vampire film does for the Motor City is beyond reproach, eliciting a vibrant apocalyptic air through its locales, a nostalgia that makes it seem like modern America’s version of a fallen Rome. Maybe the ruined Michigan Theater was an obvious choice, maybe not, but, God help me, that sequence’s romantic doom is taken up to eleven because of its setting.


Beneath the Harvest Sky. Josh LaJoie, Location Manager. Admittedly part of this stems from my own whimsy. Though “Beneath the Harvest Sky” was filmed in Maine’s Aroostook County, nudging up right alongside the Canadian border, its look and feel is nonetheless akin to the rural Midwest, and that always arouses fondness in my oft-homesick mentality. The opening shot features kids tossing rocks at a ramshackle water tower because what else do they have to do? That water tower is more beautiful than any iron latticework on the Champ de Mars.


Boyhood. Peter Atherton, Robbie Friedman, Steve White, Jose Luis Hernandez, Location Managers. For Antone’s alone. What other place could so perfectly capture a father's heart-to-heart with his son in advance of the son on the precipice of becoming “a man”?

1 comment:

Alex Withrow said...

I LOVE that you saw this post through. I think it's awesome. I too was stunned that the LMGA was even a thing, but hell, everyone deserves props, right? Loved the locations in Night Moves so much. Great location work there.