London is a very clean city. Almost too clean, actually. And I was surprised at how hard it was to find a tiny lot somewhere in this huge city that could spend one morning, one morning, doubling as a post-riot Kiev. Is that so much to ask?
We’re shooting promotional photos this week for ‘The Point of No Return’, and it’s been my job to hunt for some of the more essential pieces: location, costumes, props. I did some research online when Tommy asked me to find somewhere for us to shoot, and each blog entry about this abandoned lot and that derelict warehouse made me more excited. I love scavenger hunts, especially when they send me around a city that has only just become my home.
Well, I did learn a lot about London, but not in the way I expected. At this point, let’s just say I know the sequence of DLR stations by heart, have figured out how to operate Barclays Cycle Hire, and can no longer trust Internet bloggers who search for deserted parts of London. After a day of following lead after lead (and cycling on the left of the road—help!), only to end up staring through the fence of the next construction site, I was struck by the state of the Docklands. London is so full of people—and their money—that it just keeps growing, and even for me it feels like many of the surprises that places like the Docklands once held are on their way out. Coming from San Francisco I’m no stranger to expansion and gentrification, but when I see firsthand that a city’s once forgotten treasures are being taken over by new high-rise residences, I can’t help but cringe. This effect is not lessened when I’m forced to compare this prosperous metropolis with the struggling and ever-changing Ukraine I’ve been sent to depict. The juxtaposition is stark: an area that once would have looked eerily similar to our subject is now a centre of frightening wealth.
Don’t get me wrong, I had a great time this weekend. I got to explore a new part of London, I eventually found the perfect place and it is going to work perfectly. But I’m also considering the realities of being part of a culture where personal freedoms and government are taken lightly (perhaps too much so), and I’m wondering how much longer we can keep being blissfully ignorant of the fact that instead of building luxury homes, many people in the world are trying to rebuild societies that have been ravaged by revolution.
Yep, I’d say this weekend was a great lesson, and it’s made me excited for all the conversations that I hope ‘The Point of No Return’ will generate. But in the meantime, we’re off to shoot some photos! Stay tuned!