The work takes its starting point from cinematic and televisual content set either in Northumberland or Gothenburg. Each scene has been exchanged and reimagined in the opposite location; iconic scenes from Gothenburg have been reimagined in Blyth and vice versa.
The material is taken from popular fiction set in both locations, specifically short, non-dialogue, outdoor scenes, inhabited by fictional characters that encapsulate the location, landscape, atmosphere, and architecture of each place. The footage created comes together as non-verbal, fractured narratives allowing the viewer to make up their own story.
Parallel explores how popular culture can act as bridge between countries, generate an interest in a place as well as create preconceived notions of respective cultures, both true and false. Using substitute locations (shooting in different locations from where the original story is set) is common practice within film and television often motivated by cost or political situation. In Parallel I am changing one setting for the other, re-imaging one place in the other. Looking at the cinematic treatment of the landscape and built environment, how it transforms the mundane and everyday into something spectacular.
The work explores similar aesthetics of the two locations; ports, sea, beaches, and landscape, whilst subtly subverting the expectations of the material by framing and dressing the locations and characters differently.
Parallel was shot on locations in Northumberland and North Tyneside in the UK and Gothenburg and Falkenberg in Sweden.
Parallel was originally commissioned by Active Northumberland, with support from Arts Council England.
Alien3 (1992), part of the of the science fiction horror film franchise, was mostly filmed at Pinewood studios but some scenes where shot on locations in the North East including Blyth Power Station and Blast Beach in Seaham, utilising the wild open landscape and industrial structures to create an alien world. The landscape scenes where shot ‘day for night’; a set of cinematic techniques used to simulate a night scene while filming in daylight. The opening scene of the 2003 re-release of Alien3 was re-imagined and filmed at Kvillepiren, a former railway pier part of Frihamnen next to where the Tall Ships will dock in Gothenburg.
The end of the iconic gangster thriller ‘Get Carter’ (1971) features a chase scene filmed at the former coal staithes in Blyth. Originally the plan was to film this scene at Kvillepiren as the railway pier had a similar function to the Blyth Staithes but in the end I decided to film it underneath the bridge ‘Göta Älvbron’ as it’s architecture and staircase fitted the original drama better.
The popular Swedish action film series about the fictional police officer Johan Falk is set in Gothenburg and the scene recreated is from ‘Kodnamn Lisa’ (2012). The scene, originally filmed by the lake Rådasjön near Gothenburg, features Johan Falk, infiltrator Frank and another officer Ove, Frank’s uncle. Taken out of context and stripped of its dialogue the scene appears to depict three men leisurely hanging out by the water. This scene was recreated at Seaton Sluice, the rocks revealed at low tide reminded me of the Scandinavian seaside landscapes.
‘Göta Kanal’ (1981) is a popular comedy about a boat race from Stockholm to Gothenburg through the canals of Sweden. The scene is from the end of the film where the three main protagonists, having lost the race, sits down at a pile of straw bales contemplating their loss. It is never clear in the film why these straw bales where there.
The ITV police drama ‘Vera’ (2011-present) set in Northumberland is an important employer of the film and television industry in the North East of England. A number of episodes have featured seaside locations including ‘Changing Tides, (Episode1 season 5) filmed on a variety of beaches in Northumberland. For the location in Sweden I decided to go to Falkenberg, an hour south east of Gothenburg to film at Skreastrand; a beach destination for many Gothenburg residents. It’s 250-metre long, recently renovated wooden pier echoes British seaside architecture.
Billy Elliot (2000) about a young boy an aspiring ballet dancer set against the backdrop of the coal miners strike in North East of England earned critical acclaim, earned 72 million pounds at the box office and has later been turned into a musical. The biggest challenge was to find a location in Sweden as the architecture featured in the film, mainly Victorian terraced houses are unmistakably British.
The Swedish miniseries ‘Upp till Kamp’ (How Soon is Now) from 2007 chronicles four friends road to adulthood in Gothenburg in the 1960’s and 70’ at the backdrop of the left wing political movement in Sweden. The Gothenburg region, like the North East, have seen the demise of its heavy industries, mainly the ship building industry, in the last 50 years dealing with similar social and economical readjustments. The scene recreated is from the intro to the first episode where the main character is looking out over the inlet to Gothenburg. This scene was shot at in North Shields overlooking the ferry terminal where ferries used to depart for Gothenburg.
‘Hamnstad’ (Port of Call) from 1948 is written and directed by Ingmar Bergman, his fifth feature film. Ingmar Bergman is undoubtebly the most respected and wellknown director from Sweden and even in this early film his distinct aesthetics and visual storytelling is clear. The film is set in Gothenburg and its main character is Berit, a young woman. The film begins in the harbour and it’s the opening scene I decided to recreate in port of Blyth. In the end of the sequence Berit looks over at the remains of Blyth Staithes; the original location of the chase scene out of Get Carter.