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Location, location, location

Rome? Lisbon? Pah. Tom Mason thinks Manchester is where Hollywood ought to pitch their tent.

Published on November 13th 2006.

Location, location, location

In a darkened room, three television executives are discussing where to film their latest crime drama. “It needs to be somewhere dodgy looking,” one says. “Somewhere with an edge of danger,” another adds. “I’ll book my train tickets to Manchester then,” the third replies.

Believe it or not, we live in a city struggling to haul itself out of an acting pigeonhole. It would appear that Manchester, a city famous for its culture and Maybelline-esque aesthetics, is suffering from a spot of typecasting. Frankly, we’re unhappy at wandering down dark alleys, only to find them brightly lit by the latest Robson Green drama. What must the general public, nay the world, think of our fair city if we’re reduced to hosting gritty cop shows that require only the dankest and darkest of Northern Quarter alleys? We’re not just a city of dark streets and funny accents, and to prove it I’m boldly offering up a selection of alternative locations for Hollywood’s perusal.

High-octane action films need not look to the busy metropolises of New York and Los Angeles for their backdrop. Take Tom Cruise’s Mission Impossible films out of the glassy skyscrapers of America and bring everyone’s favourite pint sized hero to the streets of Manchester. Our straight roads are plentiful, and Mr. Cruise could run from here to Bolton without even having to turn a corner. Indeed, the impending threat of being taken out by an articulated lorry on the A56 would add a further element of danger to any motion picture.

Why, the next picture in the James Bond series could take full advantage of our city centre. Who would not be gripped by Bond’s attempts to infiltrate the group of emo teenagers loitering outside Urbis? What sinister plans do they have? – only Daniel Craig and his Q issued black eyeliner can find out.

We even have a wide range of locations for kiddies’ films. Fish Finding Nemo out of the Pacific Ocean and set it in the fountains of Piccadilly Square. Toss in a couple of trout and watch them valiantly flop through the flumes in order to be reunited. Yes, some children may weep if their favourite fish makes an unfortunate dash towards the tramlines, but loss is a part of growing up too. Perhaps it was trying to find another fish in Salford.

Other franchises could take advantage of our diverse settings – Babe: Pig in a Rusholme restaurant, The Pirates of the Caribbean: Orlando Bloom Falls into Platt Fields Lake and Herbie 3: Herbie gets his tyres stolen in Fallowfield, being some examples.

We’re not just a city capable of giving children nightmares though, and Manchester could be the setting for many a commercially successful television programme. Indeed, whilst we can see the advantages of filming a series such as Lost on the sun kissed beaches of Hawaii, perhaps the creators of this aforementioned drama overlooked the benefits of bringing their cameras and boom mikes to Manchester. Take away the mysterious desert island setting and place a selection of overpaid actors in Moss Side. Those of you fearing that this would subtract from the plot need not fear as filming in Moss Side would retain the enigmatic vibe of the show – how did we get here? How do we get out? Replace the roving enemy, the Others, with a group of hooded scallies. What did they want with Walt and why is he missing his Rolex?

The student community need not feel left out of this entertainment resurgence. Friends could easily be set in some description of student accommodation. Although admittedly, episodes titled ‘The one with the leaking roof’ or ‘The one where Joey steals all the milk and sleeps through his lecture’ may not be easily embraced by the entertainment seeking public.

Now all we need is a large Hollywood sign. Although if the incident with the B of the Bang monument is anything to go by, perhaps we’d best get some better screws.

Tom Mason

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