So my London friends are always teasing me for recognizing location shots on TV and in movies. Most of you know that I grew up in Burbank, and that a lot of the entertainment industry is based here (I'm there as I write this). So many popular shows, even if they pretend to be based in New York or Chicago or some other such place, are actually taped on stages that are just a long walk from my house. Last summer my son-in-law, who works at Warner Bros., took me on a great tour of the sets for ER, Gilmore Girls, Friends and a bunch of other shows. In that 12 days after Julie and Ian went ahead to LA for Christmas, I watched a handful of movies by myself in London. It was uncanny how many used the streets of Burbank for location shooting. I was watching the psychological thriller, Memento, one day, and one shot passed right by the Winchell's Donut Shop near my home that I used to visit, er, rather frequently.
So why rehash all of this right now?
On the flight to LA on Christmas Day I enjoyed my usual binge of movies--five altogether, with an episode of 30 Rock as a chaser. Ocean's Thirteen was good; Run Fatboy Run was bordering on great; Shoot 'Em Up set a new body count record but was clever anyway; The Darjeeling Limited was strange and wise all at the same time (the whole movie was written to point to one scene near the end where three dysfunctional brothers threw their father's luggage [read: baggage] off a train).
But the kicker was an average English romantic dramedy (there's a dreadful word) called Someone Else. Why reserve special place for an average movie? Because the entire film was shot in my neighborhood in London. Haverstock Hill, Belsize Park, Chalk Farm and Primrose Hill were all clearly visible throughout the movie. The streets of my little corner of London looked beautiful, even on the tiny airplane screen. Every little recognizable thing made me smile.
I suppose we all have things that have identified 'home' for us. Family homes, schools we attended, sports teams we've supported and the like. For me, alongside all of those things, it's always been that my neighborhood was in the movies. How strange and fun all at once, then, to see my new hometown, 5500 miles away from where I grew up, appear on the the screen as the background for a movie. If God is trying to get me to see North London as my home, even for a season, how creative to do it through the movies that I talk about so often.
Christmas in Southern California is great--I'm having a great time with my family and friends and the places I love to see. But I'm also looking forward to getting back to London next week. Who knows, maybe I can get some work as an extra...