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Posts Tagged ‘film landscapes’

Inside the world of Chicago location scouts

In Excerpts, Thoughts on August 3, 2011 at 9:47 am

The making of The Dark Knight, much of which was filmed in Chicago with the help of the city's location scouts

In the Tribune today, a profile of Chicago’s location scouts—men and women who look at our built environment with very different eyes and can see the kinetic energy of ordinary things like traffic circles, trees, and town homes. A portrait of Joe Amari was especially intriguing:

Amari started as a scout for John Hughes; today, he maintains thousands of location photographs, digitally archived, but also kept as hard copies in green filing cabinets on the third floor of the James R. Thompson Center downtown, sorted by zoos, homes, parks, banks, gymnasiums, heliports, ad infinitum. 

If you’re part of a big-deal production, chances are he’ll give you the official state treatment — which means he’ll send you scores of location pictures, then drive you around in a blue Illinois state van with about 118,000 miles on it, showing off every location to consider.

He’s given that tour to director Christopher Nolan, the Wachowski brothers when they were making the The Matrix sequels, and the producers of the upcoming Iron Man 3.

But the most fascinating detail of all was the fact that Amari is a state employee, working for the Illinois Film Office. The state does have an economic interest in drawing filmmakers so it’s only logical it would employ such a team, but it’s the type of thing I’ve never really thought about.

The crux of the article was the news that the new Superman movie would use Chicago as Metropolis, challenging the assumption that New York would always be home of The Daily Planet.

Al Cohn, a Chicago location scout, takes pictures at North Avenue Beach. Photo: William DeShazer.

“Counter-gravitational cities tattooed on walls”

In Excerpts, Thoughts on April 4, 2011 at 10:20 am

Part of the appeal of horror movies and apocalyptic video games is certainly the ruined environments they offer. We adore abandoned buildings, burnt-out shells, disintegrating infrastructure. In film, a ghost town fascinates us regardless of the potential for real ghosts. The visual of it is enough.

So the paintings—if they can be called mere paintings—of Gerry Judah will resonate with nearly everyone, at least on that level. As described by Geoff Manaugh:

“Gerry Judah’s paintings are massively and aggressively three-dimensional, piling up, away, and out from the canvas to form linked cities, ruins, and debris-encrusted bridges…so covered in white it’s as if nuclear winter has set in.”

“Judah embeds entire architectural models in each piece, affixing small constellations of buildings to the canvas before beginning a kind of archaeological onslaught: layering paint on top of paint, raining strata down for days to seal the landscape in place and make it ready for wall-mounting. And then the paintings go up, sprawling and counter-gravitational, like ruins tattooed on the walls.”

Judah’s process, complete with a haunting score:

Another installation forewent the canvas for a complete three-dimensional structure, resembling a 5,000-year-old gothic space station drifting through the galaxies, its partial destruction preserved by the non-elements of space.