I get really excited when a film or TV show is set in Sydney. For me, it becomes a game of identifying the locations, and then going there. Why do I want to visit the places concerned? Because it is kind of cool to understand how they add to the plot. A location is not just a dot on a map; the culture and characteristics define it too.
One great example is the first film of the Matrix series. Martin Place was used because it could portray the idea of a ‘perfect’ city (Trust me, it was more like that back in 1999!). In case you have not seen the film, the Matrix is a simulated reality of a perfect city used to fool humans while machines harvest their body heat for energy. As a Sydneysider, walking the length of Martin Place sometimes makes me feel like I am living in the best city in the world.
Let me cite another example. The recent ABC TV series Rake, centres on barrister Cleaver Greene who lives in Kings Cross, and has a ‘seedy’ lifestyle. Greene’s flat above a café does exist (in a quiet side street near the Cross), and one scene is shot at the El Alamein fountain (which I did not know existed; shows you how much I go there!). I am yet to find where Greene’s ‘lawyers bar’ is though (I think it is somewhere along Elizabeth St).
Sometimes the wrong connotation can be given to a location. Take Julia Leigh’s film Sleeping Beauty (Go see it, a great film). Lucy, a university student takes a high-paying job being a fantasy for old men. Leigh probably wanted to use a ‘generic’ university location, but several scenes are shot at the University of Sydney. For those that are interested, they take place in and around the Carslaw building, and the lawns outside the New Law building. I could immediately identify the location (I go to USyd), but to a casual moviegoer, it would be aesthetically pleasing architecture at a university.
What is interesting is that recently the SMH wrote about a large brothel (Stiletto), about to open opposite the university’s campus. A coincidence, or art imitating life?