I never thought much about how movies create an imaginary place out of a real one. The first time I saw this sort of artificiality I was in Boston, staying in a BnB in an older part of town. It was after dark and they were setting up for a shot. They had watered down the street so it would sparkle in the lights, an effect I have since noted in scores of movies. Nothing was happening, I didn’t know who the actors were, so I went back to the BnB and forgot about it.
But, I have noticed the town of Las Vegas, New Mexico cropping up in movies, and it is a thrill to see a place I know standing in for somewhere else. Years ago I was watching “No Country For Old Men” with M when I recognized parts of Vegas (Yes, I know there is another town with the same name, but I have only been to that one once). Now I have been watching a television series “Longmire” for this reason. The show is set in a mythical county in Wyoming, but it is quite clearly filmed in and around Vegas.
The fictional sheriff’s office is right on the plaza, and the fictional sheriff is played by an Australian actor. He does a convincing job of being a laconic American.
And then this sign for an imaginary hotel and coffee shop set in the fictional town of Holt, Colorado.
The hotel is catty corner from this alleged pharmacy. It’s actually a pizza place, and since they weren’t filming that day, they could put their sign out front.
Across the street from the hotel is the imaginary bank. (It doesn’t look fortress like enough to really be a bank. It was probably a store in it’s former life). But brief glimpses of these places establish the reality of the fiction.
It also makes me think of the gritty crime dramas that they film in the allegedly mean streets of East London. East London is not imaginary, but one is more likely to find a Starbucks instead of a pub, a banker instead of a crook (maybe they are the same person now).
They often include a shot of this iconic Spitalfields church. But this is getting harder and harder to include as the area gets more and more gentrified. They will have to find another spot to stand in for the area. But they won’t find it in New Mexico, it has too much sunshine. 😉