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That’s a Wrap!

24 Jan

This post is the first one in a very long time and I write it with a certain melancholy.

Like with all movies and TV series, after months of planning, preparation, research, location scouting and filming, comes the last day of shooting and with it, the director’s final words: “That’s a wrap!”

After writing almost every week for the first 14-15 months, 2015 was a fairly quiet affair. During the first part of the year, although some posts were ready on paper, I did not have a computer. Then, when back online and roaring to go, I was offered the opportunity to move abroad for an internal promotion… and I spent August packing. End of September, after 15 years in the UK and the last 6 in Islington, I took my suitcases and head off to Spain!

I will publish the few posts drafted early 2015 but after that it will be tricky to carry on from Spain and not being able to walk around Islington to take pictures. Talking of which, the Islington Film Locations Map will now be opened to everyone who knows and wishes to share with us an Islington film location. I hope to see this map growing and growing.

Thanks to everyone who dropped by at some point, followed the blog, enjoyed it and commented on it! You never know what the future may have in mind and maybe we’ll have a Lights, Camera…Islington! sequel in a few years time but for now, it is …So long, farewell, au revoir, auf wiedersehen, goodbye!

To Islington with Love, Xavier

4 Weddings & Funeral - Highbury Terrace - Final Kiss - FILM

 

 

 

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Judi Dench: From Highbury Place to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

7 Aug

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011) is a British comedy about a group of retirees from different backgrounds who travel to India to stay at what is supposed to be a magnificent and luxurious hotel.

Before their departure, we get to briefly know them in their UK environment and see why each and everyone of them need or want a change. This is how we end up in Islington to meet Evelyn.

In fact, this is the very first scene of the movie. As the camera zooms out, we can hear Evelyn (Judi Dench), a recent widow, trying to reach a call centre (in India) to understand her Wi-Fi from her broadband: an unchartered territory her husband used to deal with.

When the camera zooms out towards the inside of her house, we can see some grass, a footpath leading to a building and some trees.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - Highbury Place - FILM 01

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - Highbury Place - FILM 02

We are in Highbury Place, and the footpath is the one leading to Highbury Pool and Fitness Centre!

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - Highbury Place - MRX 01

After filming in Islington for Notes on a Scandal and the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Judi Dench must love our borough…She was recently spotted with Dustin Hoffman shooting around Bevin Court!

 A big Thank you to Islington resident and film producer Nicola Gallani of Greengrass Media for this tip!

Fade Out

 

How to get there?

Islington Film Locations Map

Highbury Place N5

Highbury and Islington Station (Zone 2)

Many buses to Highbury Corner

 

Enjoyed this post? Feel free to comment, share it with your friends and come to Islington to discover our locations! Don’t forget to send me your pictures.

And if you do know any Islington location used for Film, TV, photo shoot or have been involved in the process, drop me a line at LightsCameraIslington(at)gmail.com or via Twitter

Colin Firth House Hunting in Highbury

31 Jul

Barely 2 months have passed since the FA Cup final frenzy, two weeks since the 2014 World Cup Final and yet, Fever Pitch is once again brewing.  With the Emirates Cup taking place this weekend in Islington, a new Premiership season is looming. Let’s hope for Arsenal that it is as successful, if not more, than the last one.

Arsenal Fans around the borough (and worldwide) would have kept an eye on the market transfers, the fixtures calendar, and all the gossips. What would be the ultimate goal for an Arsenal Fan: The Champions League Trophy? A Premier League Title? Retaining the FA Cup?

For most Arsenal fans those would do. For Paul (Colin Firth) however, the ultimate dream is another. A Gunner since he was a kid, he wants to live his passion to the full this means live as close as possible from his family. Having conquered Sarah’s heart (Ruth Gemmell), not so keen on football herself, they look for a place to move in together and Paul has found the perfect house…on Conewood Street, opposite Highbury Stadium, where else?

Fever Pitch - Arsenal Stadium - Main Entrance - FILM 01

Having parked outside the house, they visit it.

Fever Pitch - Colin's House - FILM 02

Fever Pitch - Colin's House - FILM 01

 

Fever Pitch - Colin's House - MRX

Paul is over the moon. Even better, the bedroom windows allows him to keep an eye 24/7 on the Directors’ Entrance !

Fever Pitch - Arsenal Stadium - Main Entrance - FILM 03
Fever Pitch - Arsenal Stadium - Main Entrance - MRX

Sarah is less than impressed and is adamant that, had it been possible, Paul would have moved in Highbury Stadium. Just as well for her that Arsenal Football Club had not yet moved to the Emirates. No doubts that Paul would be looking for a flat in Highbury Stadium Square!

Fade Out

 

Related Fever Pitch posts

Highbury: It’s Fever Pitch around Here

Fever Pitch rises again around Arsenal Station

Night Stroll in Camden Passage for Colin Firth 

 

How to get there?

Islington Film Locations Map

Conewood Street N5

Arsenal Tube Station: Piccadilly Line (Zone 2)

Drayton Park Train station

Many buses to Holloway Road station and Highbury Park Road

 

Enjoyed this post? Feel free to comment, share it with your friends and come to Islington to discover our locations! Don’t forget to send me your pictures.

And if you do know any Islington location used for Film, TV, photo shoot or have been involved in the process, drop me a line at TheUnbelievableMrX(at)gmail.com or via Twitter

 

Joseph Fiennes and Heather Graham’s Naughty Games in Highbury New Park

24 Jul

This week, Lights, Camera…Islington! is particulary pleased to take you to an area of the borough we have not yet visited. Something quite surprising considering the strong connection to the movies this road has.

In British drama Killing Me Softly (2002) Alice (Heather Graham), is a young American who lives with her boyfriend in London and is happy in her secure and steady job. One day on her way to work she meets Adam (Joseph Fiennes), a well-known mountain climber. A passionate encounter follows that same day. Once back at home she realises that she cannot replicate the same feelings with her boyfriend. Dropping everything for Adam, the two initiate a torrid affair. Adam proposes to Alice and although she is over the moon, she starts receiving a series of calls and notes warning her about her husband’s past.

The film was mainly shot in London, and to our knowledge, there is only one Islington film location in it. Such location can actually be seen a few times in the movie but only for a few seconds each time and from close ups, making it hard to spot it. We are referring to Adam’s house where Alice comes time and time again for their intense encounters.

Killing Me Softly - 59 Highbury New Park - FILM 01

Killing Me Softly - 59 Highbury New Park - FILM 02

We will probably never know if the interiors of Adam’s house were filmed on location or in a studio but the steps and front door of his house can be seen at the South end of …Highbury New Park!

Killing Me Softly - 59 Highbury New Park - MRX

In fact, this quiet and leafy Islington street looks beyond suspicion. Who could possibly imagine what Joseph Fiennes and Heather Graham were up to behind closed doors (if you forget the  20+ crew around them that is!)

More interestingly maybe is the fact that Adam’s house is only yards from what was once the home of Highbury Studios.  Film and TV Studios since 1933, they were acquired by the Rank Organisation in 1945 but would eventually be demolished in 1960. Next to those, in a disused church hall, was a training school, The Company of Youth, also known as the Rank Charm School.

If the studios and school are no longer here, many of the young actors who trained at such school made a name for themselves…Christopher Reeve or Joan Collins to name but two. So when a twenty-year-old Joan Collins stepped out of Holloway Women’s Prison in 1953’s Turn the Key Softly she was only minutes away from her school!

Fade Out

 

How to get there?

Islington Film Locations Map

Highbury New Park N5 2ET

Canonbury Overground Station (Zone 2)

Highbury and Islington Station (Zone 2)

Buses to Grosvenor Avenue, Highbury New Park and Highbury Corner

 

Enjoyed this post? Feel free to comment, share it with your friends and come to Islington to discover our locations! Don’t forget to send me your pictures.

And if you do know any Islington location used for Film, TV, photo shoot or have been involved in the process, drop me a line at TheUnbelievableMrX(at)gmail.com or via Twitter

At Highbury Corner, Keep Your Lane! #Enraha

3 Jul

This week we are staying in the same neck of the woods than last week, literally yards from it.

In our last Happy-Go-Lucky (2008) post, On Holloway Road Mind the Driving Instructor, we left Poppy (Sally Hawkins) and Scott (Eddie Marsan) in the middle of a major discussion while at one of Islington’s busiest junction: Tollington Road, turning right onto Holloway Road towards Archway.

Logically we would be spotting them on their way to, or nearby, Archway… Maybe they did go towards Archway. Maybe they didn’t. Only Mike Leigh, his crew and the actors would be able to enlighten us here.

The truth is that, in the next shots we can still see Scott driving on Holloway Road, but going towards…Highbury Corner!

Then, while he explains to Poppy how to keep in lane in roundabouts we can quickly spot:

Local businesses Mc Donald’s and The White Swan pub,

Happy Go Lucky - Highbury Corner - FILM 01

a car waiting to exit Highbury Station Road,

Happy Go Lucky - Highbury Corner - FILM 03

and the pedestrian crossing between the Highbury Corner Post Office (now gone), and Highbury Place.

Happy Go Lucky - Highbury Corner - FILM 02

Scott then turns left heading back to Holloway Road.

Not from a car but…here is a picture of Highbury Corner soon to be improved.

Happy Go Lucky - Highbury Corner - MRX

Fade Out

How to get there?

Islington Film Locations Map

Highbury Corner N1 1RY

Highbury and Islington Station (Zone 2)

Many buses to Highbury Corner

 

Related Happy-Go-Lucky posts

Mountgrove Road: A Vintage Sally Hawkins Lived Here

On Holloway Road, Mind the Driving Instructor 

 

Enjoyed this post? Feel free to comment, share it with your friends and come to Islington to discover our locations! Don’t forget to send me your pictures.

And if you do know any Islington location used for Film, TV, photo shoot or have been involved in the process, drop me a line at TheUnbelievableMrX(at)gmail.com or via Twitter

 

 

The Estorick Collection brings La Dolce Vita to Islington

15 May

This week, let’s forget about Islington film locations for a moment. Worry not, we’ll still be talking film stars and Islington. Indeed, movie stars galore in this post, and of the highest calibre: Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Joan Collins, Jack Lemmon, Rock Hudson, Cary Grant, Launren Bacall, John Wayne, Jayne Mansfield, Robert Wagner, not to forget Marcello Mastroianni  and Anita Ekberg. All of them, and many more, are waiting for you in the heart of Islington, at the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art.

Estorick Collection

Estorick Collection

Located in Canonbury Square, the Estorick Collection’s latest exhibition, The Years of La Dolce Vita opened on 30th April. We are invited to travel back to 1950s and 60s Rome, where many Hollywood producers and filmakers went to, to shoot at its Cinecittà studios for a fraction of what it would have cost them in California. Those were Cinecittà’s golden years with epic films such as Ben-Hur (1959) and Cleopatra (1963) being made, and young Italian directors producing some of their finest movies.

At a time where the Internet and social media seemed light years from us, and where most people could not travel long distances, how did people know about what was going on in Rome? Thanks to gossip and people magazines, thanks to photographers, thanks to Paparazzi

In fact, the name Paparazzi comes from Fellini’s La Dolce Vita itself. In it, Mastroianni plays Marcello Rubbini, a journalist writing for gossip magazines who works with a photographer friend, whose name is… Paparazzo! Marcello Geppetti (1933-1998) was one those photographers. It is mainly from his archive that the 80 pictures on display at the Estorick Collection are. Here are some of them to whet your appetite.

Audrey Hepburn who shot to fame and won her first Oscar for Roman Holiday (1953) was no stranger to Rome.

1. Estorick La Dolce Vita - Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn, Rome, 1961 MGMC & Solares Fondazione delle Arti

Neither was Rock Hudson, seen here with Cary Grant, who filmed in Italy A Farewell to Arms (1957) and the romantic comedy Come September (1961), which is at the heart of our Hollywood on the Italian Riviera project.

4. Estorick La Dolce Vita - Hudson and Grant

Rock Hudson and Cary Grant at Cinecittà, June 1961 MGMC & Solares Fondazione delle Arti

British actress Joan Collins, whom Lights, Camera…Islington! came across in her early career exiting Holloway Prison was by now rubbing shoulders with Jack Lemmon and Robert Wagner.

9. Estorick La Dolce Vita - Lemmon, Collins and Wagner

Jack Lemmon, Joan Collins and Robert Wagner at “Caffè dell’Epoca”, Rome, October 1961 MGMC & Solares Fondazione delle Arti

Mr Universe 1955 and actor Mickey Hargitay and his wife Jayne Mansfield were having the time of their life.

10. Estorick La Dolce Vita - Mansfield and Hargitay, Rome 1962

Jayne Mansfield and Mike Hargitay leaving “Piccola Budapest”, Rome, October 1962 MGMC & Solares Fondazione delle Arti

From one curvy blonde to another: Brigitte Bardot, Bardot…la la la la la lalaaaaa

2. Estorick La Dolce Vita - Bardot

Brigitte Bardot in Spoleto, June 1961 MGMC & Solares Fondazione delle Arti

In the meantime in Ischia, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were enjoying a break from shooting Cleopatra.

5. Estorick La Dolce Vita - Burton and Taylor

Richard Burton and Liz Taylor kissing in Ischia, June 1962 MGMC & Solares Fondazione delle Arti

We truly enjoyed discovering those Marcello Geppetti’s snapshots on display in The Years of La Dolce Vita. For an hour or so we were mingling with the stars in sunny (and warm) Rome, wondering along Trastevere, Via Veneto, la Fontana di Trevi… I guess the miserable weather made it all the better, not to mention the 3 D experience offered by the Estorick Collection.

The 3-D experience??? Yes, la ciliegina sulla torta (the cherry on the cake as the Italians say). While you go trough the rooms looking at the pictures of the stars having a coffee, enjoying a drink or a meal in a Trattoria, an incredible smell comes from the Estorick Caffè and tickles your nose. How clever! So clever that we ended up extending our stay in Rome for a Frittata of the day, some Gnocchi Sorrentina and 2 Espresso.

No pictures of Marcello? Anita Ekberg? John Wayne? Federico Fellini?

Oh yes. Plenty of those. At the Estorick Collection.

The Years of La Dolce Vita is on until the 29th June.

Fade Out

Enjoyed this post? Feel free to comment, share it with your friends and come to Islington to discover our locations! Don’t forget to send me your pictures.

How to get there?

Islington Film Locations Map

Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art

39a Canonbury Square N1 2AN

Essex Road Train Station (Zone 1)

Highbury and Islington Station (Zone 2)

Buses to Canonbury Road, Essex Road, Upper Street or Highbury Corner

Love or Disaster at Islington Town Hall

24 Apr

At the end of March, Islington Town Hall hit the headlines and front covers for being the first one to celebrate a same-sex marriage. Today, the spotlight is once again on our Town Hall, again for a wedding and again for a ceremony involving a gay man…or maybe not.

Love and Other Disasters (2006) is a romantic comedy partly produced by Islington based Ruby Films, in which Emily, also known as Jacks (Brittany Murphy), works as an assistant at Vogue UK and shares a flat with her gay friend Peter (Matthew Rhys), a screenwriter. Both worry about serious relationships. Jacks spends her time with her friends Peter and Tallulah (Catherine Tate) and sleeps with her ex, while Peter lives and falls in love in his dreams rather than real people. Enter Paolo Sarmiento (Santiago Cabrera – Aramis in the BBC’s Musketeers to you and me), a charming photographer from Argentina.

Convinced that Paolo is gay, Jacks introduces him to Peter. At the same time she receives him at home in her underwear, when not in her bath. Both Peter and Jacks fell under Paolo’s charm…

All seems going well until Paolo announces that he is packing, going back to Argentina. Someone reported him to the UK authorities, his visa has expired, Paolo must leave.

With a promising photographic career ahead of him, Jacks offers Paolo to get married so that he can stay. And where best to tie the knot than Islington Town Hall!

When Paolo wakes up in finds a note from Jacks saying ‘Meet me at the Islington Registry at 11 a.m. sharp’.

Love and Other Disasters - Islington Town Hall - Film 01

Then we can see Paolo arriving Islington Town Hall.

Love and Other Disasters - Islington Town Hall - Film 02

Love and Other Disasters - Islington Town Hall - Film 03

Love and Other Disasters - Islington Town Hall - MRX 01

Seconds later Peter rushes out of a black cab.

Love and Other Disasters - Islington Town Hall - Film 06

Love and Other Disasters - Islington Town Hall - MRX 02

 

Will Jacks and Paolo get married or will Paolo dare to tell her that he is not the man she thinks he is? More scenes of Love and Other Disasters were shot across the borough so, you’d better watch it to get the answer!

Fade Out

Enjoyed this post? Feel free to comment, share it with your friends and come to Islington to discover our locations! Don’t forget to send me your pictures.

And if you do know any Islington location used for Film, TV, photo shoot or have been involved in the process, drop me a line at TheUnbelievableMrX(at)gmail.com or via Twitter

How to get there?

Islington Film Locations Map

Islington Town Hall N1 2UD

Highbury and Islington Station (Zone 2)

Many buses to Upper Street

Fever Pitch rises again around Arsenal Station

17 Apr

Ever since Gillepsie Road Tube station was renamed Arsenal (Highbury Hill) in 1932, football fans across the world have been able to pinpoint where the home of Arsenal Football Club was.

Gillepsie Road Sation  pre November 1932

Gillepsie Road Sation

As we saw in part one of our Fever Pitch (1997) franchise, Highbury: It’s Fever Pitch Around Here, as a kid Paul (Luke Aikman) discovers Arsenal Football Club with his dad (Neil Pearson). As you would expect, in the same way that the old Arsenal Stadium features a number of times, so does Arsenal Tube Station.

On his way to the stadium, we can see him exiting the station on several occasions, here with his dad…

Fever Pitch - Arsenal Tube Station - FILM 01

and returning to it after the game.

Fever Pitch - Arsenal Tube Station - FILM 03

Towards the end of the movie, while looking for Paul (Colin Firth), Sarah (Ruth Gemmell) can be spotted on Highbury Hill with the station in the distance.

Fever Pitch - Arsenal Tube Station - FILM 05

Finally, all is well that ends well. After the celebrations, Sarah & Paul can be seen strolling down Highbury Hill making their way towards Arsenal Station.

Fever Pitch - Arsenal Tube Station - FILM 06

Arsenal Tube Station - MRX

Fade Out

Enjoyed this post? Feel free to comment, share it with your friends and come to Islington to discover our locations! Don’t forget to send me your pictures.

And if you do know any Islington location used for Film, TV, photo shoot or have been involved in the process, drop me a line at TheUnbelievableMrX(at)gmail.com or via Twitter

How to get there?

Islington Film Locations Map

Arsenal Tube Station (Zone 2)

Many buses to Blackstock Road and Holloway Road

Mountgrove Road: A Vintage Sally Hawkins Lived Here

23 Jan

From one Islington boundary to another and yet again it is with our Hackney neighbours that we are getting cosy. No surprise here when this week’s film was mainly shot in North London between Camden, Hackney, Islington as well as Southwark.

In Mike Leigh’s sparkling comedy Happy-Go-Lucky (2008), Poppy (Sally Hawkins) is a cheerful and cheeky primary-school teacher whose happiness and exuberance irritate in no small measure her bitter driving instructor Scott (Eddie Marsan). Screenwriter and director Mike Leigh and his actors went on to collect countless awards and nominations for their work.

Once again ladies and gentlemen, we can proudly say that the main character of a movie ‘Lived in Islington’.

Happy Go Lucky - House - FILM 01

Or can we? Did she really?

Poppy’s house is on the corner of Finsbury Park Road (Hackney) and Mountgrove Road (Islington). Technically speaking the house’s door is the last one on Finsbury Park Road but the living room and its 3 windows overlook Mountgrove Road!

Since Poppy is taking driving lessons and getting in and out of the flat, you can spot it, the street and the area many times throughout the film. In fact, this is likely to be a familiar corner to many Islington residents. What in the film is an empty orange corner shop ‘To Let’ has since Happy-Go-Lucky become the popular Cafe Vintage.

 Happy Go Lucky - House - FILM 03

Happy Go Lucky - House - MRX o

On another occasion, when returning from a day out to visit her pregnant sister, Poppy and her flatmate Zoe (Alexis Zegerman) can be seen driving down Canning Road, at the corner of which Scott is standing, looking at their flat. When Poppy spots him, he shoots off, up Canning road.

Happy Go Lucky - Canning Road - FILM

Happy Go Lucky - Canning Road - MRX 01

At her next driving lesson, Poppy confronts Scott. While walking towards the car parked on Mountgrove Road you can recognise the blue front shop of Bennet & Brown, the peculiar grey double-doors next to it and the small food market store.

Mountgrove Road - Bennet & Brown FILM

Happy Go Lucky - Mountgrove Road - MRX

Once in the car, they turn left onto Wilberforce Road, back to Hackney. Where will we next spot our heroes? Yet again another movie we’ll be coming back to.

For now, and since you have made it that far, you may as well want to reward yourself with one of Cafe Vintage’s yummy treats!

Fade Out

How to get there?

Islington Film Locations Map

Mountgrove Road N5 2LT

Arsenal Tube Station (Zone 2)

Finsbury Park Station (Zone 2)

Buses to Blackstock Road and Clissold Park

 

Related Happy-Go-Lucky posts

On Holloway Road, Mind the Driving Instructor 

At Highbury Corner, Keep Your Lane!

 

Enjoyed this post? Feel free to comment, share it with your friends and come to Islington to discover our locations! Don’t forget to send me your pictures.

And if you do know any Islington location used for Film, TV, photo shoot or have been involved in the process, drop me a line at TheUnbelievableMrX(at)gmail.com or via Twitter

 

 

Highbury: It’s Fever Pitch Around Here

7 Nov

I could not start a blog about Islington film locations in 2013 and not mention Highbury, the home of Arsenal Football Club between 1913 and 2006. The Club, celebrating the 100th anniversary of its move to Islington, and its stadium, have provided the backdrop to both murder mysteries and romantic comedies.

I have to confess that when I first heard of and saw Fever Pitch (1997), many years after its release, I did smile and wonder how Colin Firth, having just dried off from that little swim of his and become the fantasy of half of the UK, had decided to take on such role. An interesting thing for me about this comedy is to see the journey made by both Colin Firth and Mark Strong, arguably two big names in Hollywood today, since sharing the screen on Fever Pitch. And if I do not know why the former made this film, you can find on youtube an interview of Mark Strong explaining how, being born and bred in Islington and an Arsenal season ticket holder himself, desperate he was to get his part!

Based on Nick Hornby’s novel, the story centres on English teacher Paul (Colin Firth) a passionate Arsenal fan who falls for colleague Sarah (Ruth Gemmell), not so keen on football herself. Inevitably, many scenes take place around the stadium.

As a kid, Paul (Luke Aikman) discovers the Gunners and the Arsenal Stadium atmosphere. We can see him and his dad (Neil Pearson) at the West Entrance Gate on Highbury Hill.

Fever Pitch - Arsenal Stadium - West Upper Entrance - FILM

Arsenal Stadium - West Upper Entrance - MRX

At the end of the movie, the last day of the 1988-89 season, Sarah looks for Paul and goes to Avenell Road, passing by the art-deco style East Stand.

Fever Pitch - Arsenal Stadium - Main Entrance - FILM 05

There, she finds him celebrating with Steve (Mark Strong) and other Gunners’ fans, the end of an excruciating season and dramatic last gasp win over Liverpool for the title.

Fever Pitch - Arsenal Stadium - Main Entrance - FILM 04

Arsenal Stadium - Main Entrance - MRX

As many scenes of Fever Pitch were shot in the borough, I’ll get back to it: Arsenal fans beware!

Fever Pitch - Firth Strong - Screaming - FILM

Fade Out

Enjoyed this post? Feel free to comment, share it with your friends and come to Islington to discover our locations! Don’t forget to send me your pictures.

And if you do know any Islington location used for Film, TV, photo shoot or have been involved in the process, drop me a line at TheUnbelievableMrX(at)gmail.com or via Twitter

How to get there?

Islington Film Locations Map

Highbury Stadium N5 1BU

Arsenal Tube Station (Zone 2)

Drayton Park Train station (Zone 2)

Many buses to Highbury Park Road and Holloway Road

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