"There's not an official name for it," says Brummie Daniel Jones. "I've it heard called 'In scene photography' or 'film tourism' a few times." Moseleyite Danny has a very cool hobby. With his Instagram account, FilmsOnLocation, as his documenting hub he likes to visit film and TV locations around the world — and closer to home — splicing still images of famous (and less famous) moments back into the exact locations they were shot.
Born and raised in Great Barr, Danny, 30, is a video producer for a social media publisher. Essentially he produces short films/sketches/adverts, he write scripts, sources locations, dabbles in casting, and oversees editing for a company based near Erdington.
"I lived away in Canada for a while and it was when I was in Calgary that I started doing this. I realised that parts of the TV show Fargo [below] were filmed in the hotel I was working in at the time. And off I went from there."
As well as in Canada Danny has grabbed scenes in France, England, Scotland and Wales. "I normally try and and do the photos when I'm already in that area," he says. "But on occasions I've gone especially to a place for this purpose. The main one was Barry Island for Gavin and Stacey [below]. That was always high up on the bucket list so I made a special trip to just do that."
"Most of my adventures finding film locations tend to require a fair bit of research, but this house actually comes up on Google Maps as "Gavin and Stacey’s actual house", he laughs. "The lady who owns it welcomes visitors throughout the year, and there are lots of signs in the window saying photographs are welcome."
"I do get funny looks, occasionally. Sometimes, for the angle of the photo, I have to crouch down or sit on the floor or pavement to get the right shot. Whenever I've shown people why I'm doing what I'm doing, though, they tend to find it quite interesting. I was taking some photos outside a house near Small Heath for Man Like Mobeen [above] and the guy who owned the house came out pretty angry asking me why I was taking photos of his house — which you can understand. Once I explained and showed him the photos, he ended up following me on Instagram."
If pretty much anything is filmed in Brum chances are Danny has recreated it. "I've done Di Ray [top], Line of Duty and You Don't Know Me [above]. I also did Enola Holmes which is nearer Bewdley.
"I do it because I love it. I'm quite sad," he adds with a chuckle. "I really like the research that goes into finding the locations and getting to that exact spot. Sometimes the research is easy, someone's written a blog and I just type the postcode in. Other times I'm watching a film or programme, frame by frame, to try and spot a landmark or road sign, and then I find the location that way. Those ones are more satisfying because I always feel like I'm the only person who knows about that location. I also do it because I enjoy the photo lining process. I was really bad at it at first, but now I'm getting better and it's really satisfying when I get it right, as with these two from Killing Eve and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets...
"I've got a few rules: I never do a film or programme that I haven't watched. And I only do locations of films and tv shows that I've actively enjoyed. I went to Dubrovnik last month but didn't do any Game of Thrones content because I just couldn't really get on board with the show. It was hard sacrificing lots of potential engagement for my principles, but a man's got to have your principles, right?"
One of the more surreal shots Danny experienced taking was in Paris where he grabbed this photo [above] from Inception. "I really felt like I was in the movie at that point because it's all about the architecture," he recalls. His favourite shot to date is the one below of About Time, in Maida Vale tube station. "There were so many things to line up in the photo, and it's one of my favourite films, so I was really pleased with the outcome.
And what does Dan make of the Brum film industry? "I think with Channel 4 and BBC being mostly in the north and all the big studios being in London, it can feel like we get left behind a little bit. That's why it's nice to visit some of these Brum locations when possible. Basically every Brummie is disappointed that there isn't more of Peaky Blinders filmed here." The exceptional shot below is a Peaky Blinders scene filmed in Liverpool, for example.
And what for the future? Well Dan's only just got started. "Pretty much the first time I sought out a location was in Bruges for, erm, In Bruges, but that was just to scratch my own curiosity — I wasn't doing scene photography then, just having a look. I'd love to revisit and capture some of the moments from the movie but, moreover, I'd like to go to America. It would be great to capture scenes from Home Alone or even visit Monument Valley, one of the many places Forrest Gump found himself running through. Tricky though, because my girlfriend keeps reminding me it's a long way to go for a photograph."
You can follow Danny and his FilmsOnLocation account, on Instagram, here
EIGHT REASONS WHY DIGBETH IS ABSOLUTELY WORTH THE EFFORT
The Digbeth roadworks have been well documented. Anyone that's been in that part of Brum in the last few months will have been confronted with a Celebrity Cyclone-esque onslaught of fencing, barriers and tram line-related headachery which has made reaching the independent bars, restaurants, cinemas and other aceness somewhat un-appetising. But as the light at the end of the tunnel begins to glow much brighter (the works are starting to clear and Gibb Street is open again, thank all the gods!) it's worth remembering that a little struggle right now is absolutely worth it, and could save venues from closure. Having swung by the area last Friday, when you would have thought a train strike would have made matters all the worse, I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to reach Heath Mill Lane, and the hospitality gems that surround it, while Christmas gridlock shut down more central parts of Brum. There remains no better part of Birmingham to bring in the festive cheer than Digbeth, and if it means adding a minute or two to your journey time to help the venues therein, surely, so be it. Here's just eight offerings from eight independents for your kind Christmassy consideration...
There is no restaurant like it and certainly not at such outstanding value. Fine-dining the Digbeth way from Kray Treadwell, Michelin Young Chef Award-winner 2021. Even the crockery deserves awards. More
The perfect mix of skilled cocktail makers and a beautifully relaxed atmosphere, Passing Fancies isn't just home to one of the city's best mixologists, but three of them. A huge asset to Brum. Insta
Ridding & Wynn
Purveyors of finery and curiosities, this is one of those places that when you enter you struggle to leave — a bit like a black hole but it won't stretch your body into a thin ribbon. In fact you'll absolutely bloody love it. An Xmas shopping goldmine. More
Pizzas, tequilas, mezcal and margaritas, Crazy Pedro's is an absolute must. Those NYC style doughy discs are so utterly moreish and wild in their invention, they'll put a smile on even the most cynical of kissers. Book your works do here. More
Show me a live music venue with a better pre-Christmas line-up and I'll eat that microphone. This Saturday (December 3) Back To The Nineties looks every bit as good as it sounds then, forgive me, but the Christmas ABBA Experience (Dec 9) is going to GO OFF. Full schedule
Right in the mixer when discussing Birmingham's best burgers pictured is their festive special, the Filthy Animal: Dry Aged Smash Patty, American Cheese, Herb Crusted Camembert, Maple Streaky Bacon, Tater Tots, Champagne Slaw, Cranberry Mayo, Fig Relish, Demi Brioche Bun. Bloody hell
Digbeth, so often at the forefront of sustainability, is leading the city yet again, this time with sustainable eyewear. You'll find Dr Oculus in the middle of the Venn diagram of style and substance. But also on Gibb Street.
Strand & Lock and Kutta
Linked only by the fact they cut hair and both do a blindingly good job of it, Strand & Lock is more likely one for the ladies and Kutta more likely one for gents. But there are no rules. Get Christmas coiffured!
Head here to read up on plenty more amazing Digbeth venues
DYLAN, WOZ, HERE.
There aren’t many comedians you can quote as if you’re turning to the greatest writers in history. But Dylan Moran is a different breed. As the great Irish stand-up once said, potential is like “your bank balance, you know – you always have much less than you think”.
PG Wodehouse would have taken the day off had he come up with that.
One of the most iconic comedians of the past 30 years is a must-see at Live At Christmas at the Town Hall, December 13. Charisma, swagger and fury combine to make for a magical and mercurial talent, and the star of Black Books appears on a positively shimmering bill alongside Mike Wozniak (pictured), adopted Brummie Celya AB, Rosie Jones and John Robins.
Taskmaster has helped many careers, but surely no one has benefited from the Bafta-winning smash-hit quite like Wozniak. Woz – long beloved on the comedy circuit – truly embraced the Taskmaster madness and is proof that the show’s true winners are, in actual fact, those who don’t go home with the gold. The public couldn’t get enough of the dapper, down-to-earth English gent – think Terry Thomas meets David Tomlinson with a dash of David Niven – and, if you miss out on tickets for this, then please for the love of god go see Wozniak on tour in 2023 with his sublime one-man show Zusa.
Rosie Jones is one of the most sought-after acts on telly, and if she isn’t fronting her own vehicles, she’s crashing someone else’s with show-stopping turns on the likes of The Last Leg, Love Island Aftersun, Hypothetical, The Jonathan Ross Show and many more. You’ll find yourself in the palm of her hand within moments. The same can be said for Celya AB, whose deft writing has seen her hugely in-demand across TV. Celya might hail from Paris, but has now very much swapped Saint Chappelle for St Martin’s in the Bullring, with this very much a home fixture for a comedian who is very much one to watch.
Edinburgh winner John Robins is an all-round powerhouse, using personal despair for our amusement. His style might differ from the great Spike Milligan, yet one is reminded of the beloved Goon in that Robins also mines his innermost demons in exchange for laughter. You truly feel his fire. It will be sad day for us all should the mighty Robins ever cheer up. Tickets
TATTU GOES ALL IN ON XMAS
Never exactly shrinking violets when it comes to interior design or food and drink theatre, Brum's modern Chinese Instagram-heaven, Tattu, has gone 'all in' on Christmas.
Their already wow-zy pink Japanese blossom that bedecks the main dining area have turned an icy blue and, I might be wrong, but seemingly swelled in size. Despite the chilly appearance the sheer mass of the thing provides the same muffled cosiness that snow sometimes can, while a colossal space of wall above the kitchen has been clad with a digital display that shows gently falling snow and, at certain points, Aurora Borealis as seen from Mohe, the only spot in China where people can witness the Northern Lights.
Speaking of Aurora, that's also the name borrowed by Tattu's wildest cocktail to date, in my opinion. Crafted to reflect a luminous night’s sky Aurora is an indulgent blend of Grey Goose, white chocolate and sparkling cherry, served in an elegant closh which, when lifted, reveals a wintery nutmeg aroma. The bubble on top (pictured) isn't just a wobbling blob of social meeejah gold but, when popped, spills a cherry aroma across the table.
The cherry theme continues into dessert where the Mount Heng Flambe hits with both style and substance. Combining baked Alaska with Maraschino cherry, hazelnuts, coconut and meringue, the entire mini mountain is set ablaze, briefly, with Calvados, which just so happens to be my absolute favourite digestif — so I was beaming from ear to flipping ear when a lazy slug of the good stuff was added, ensuring you could still taste it long after the flames had come to rest. If there's a restaurant in Birmingham that offers more of a multi-sensory, astonishingly immersive experience, then I don't know of it.
One of my absolute favourite things about the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra is that it doesn't take itself too seriously. I mean, it's a serious business, of course it is, this is one of the world’s great orchestras. At its centre is a team of 90 outstanding professional musicians and over a 100-year tradition of making the planet's grandstand-iest music, in the heart of our city. They discovered Simon Rattle for Pete's sake.
But if there's one thing 2022 showed, when it comes to the CBSO, it was its accessibility. From regular performances at Hockley Social Club, where flutists performed yards away from sizzling tacos, to inviting the general public to conduct the entire ensemble at New Street Station — it's an orchestra that's Brummie in all the best ways — and one that's future-proofing itself with aplomb.
The pinnacle of their willingness to mix things up comes at Christmas when they park the Mozart in favour of the Mariah. A Swinging Christmas — which is a right good family-friendly tuba-fest — plays out at Symphony Hall on December 21, in that wintry sweet spot where work is winding down and festivities are in fifth gear.
Expect roof-raising renditions of bangers like Santa Claus is Coming to Town (if he can navigate the German Market), Baby It's Cold Outside, All I Want for Christmas (there's your Carey fill) and Frosty The Snowman as well as some of the more gentle classics like Winter Wonderland, Let It Snow and White Christmas. It's a combo of skill and silliness that'll have you beaming all the way home. Santa hats: semi-compulsory. Book
BULLY FOR YOU
Your laptop looks boring. There, I said it. When you leave a meeting room the people left in there all turn to each other and say "good presentation, but did you see how boring that laptop was?" Sorry but it's true, everyone knows it. Hush now, don't cry, our Raging Bull pin badges were so popular (over 500 sold) we decided to extend the range to these holographic stickers. They measure 3 inches by 2.52 inches and they will transform your laptop / fridge / sketchbook / birth certificate from something moribund to something magnificent. £4
A creative collab that casts its love of Brum in solid recycled silver went live this morning. 'Yes Bab' creator Punks and Chancers and local jeweller Cross and Dot have made a range of solid silver jewellery in the heart of the JQ. Each piece has been hand carved from wax by Lily of Cross and Dot, before being cast in silver and hand-sanded and polished resulting in tactile, substantial pieces. The 'Yes Bab' pendant is £55 while the earrings (pictured) are £28.
Kings Heath pizzeria Poli continue their extraordinary run of collab nights by welcoming the aforementioned 670 Grams on December 6. More —
Stirchley Cinema have announced another Pop-Up Picture, this time at Artefact (also in Stirchley). On December 6 they'll be showing a "sinful and godless romp" called The Old Dark House. The poster alone is too much for me. £6 —
Here come the MARKETS! Ikon Gallery's Winter Craft Market is today (Dec 1) 5.30pm to 8.30pm, while Stirchley Community Market is on Saturday (Dec 3) from 10am to 3pm at Stirchley Baths. On Sunday (Dec 4) Harborne Handmade Market runs 10am to 4pm at Moor Pool Hall and there's still ticket availability for this Saturday's Seasonal Markets Christmas Feast at Digbeth's The Bond. —
The Polar Express steam train departs from Moor Street and terminates, presumably, at the North Pole. Okay, I don't really know the ins and outs but it does look annoyingly magical. Four trains run almost daily throughout December. More —
Dudley Canal Trust are running a Christmas Through Time barge journey that'll take you, Goodnight Sweetheart-style, back in time. Not sure Gary Sparrow was paying £15 a pop but, with hindsight, maybe he'd have been less reckless if he had. Details —
Luminate — that lit up walk thingummy with bright wotchamacallits — has returned to The Botanical Gardens and runs until Jan 2. I've explained that terribly but it's late and I need to schedule this damn email. Jeez man, do I have to do everything round here? Book
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