I’m currently on a big DVD fix – I started with good intentions but it might have got a little out of hand… You see, I thought it would be fiscally prudent to try and watch all my DVDs with the intention of selling some. I have sold a few but I have also wasted hours on old favourites which I am never going to sell and yet ‘need’ to watch.
My DVD collection is a very odd thing – lots of perfectly credible classics (Shawshank Redemption, Godfather box set, Annie Hall, Howards End etc…), indie greats (Sideways, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Dogma etc…), embarrassing chic flicks (Funny Face, An Affair to Remember, Julie & Julia etc…) and MANY TV box sets. Yet there is one thing I’ve really noticed over the last few weeks and it seems to apply regardless of genre – location is key to the development of your story and never more so than with single people.
You see, Kirstie and Phil are on to something with their Location, Location, Location mantra; have you ever noticed that all intelligent single people, especially the neurotic over-thinkers, are based in city centres? Capital cities – especially Manhattan – seem crammed with them. Are capital cities in fact ghettos full of single people or do they simply provide the most visually arresting backdrops for the cinematographers and directors? Of course, the sheer number of people in these relatively small areas also means that some creativity can be dropped from the plot…
The trouble with this is that we start to associate places with a certain type of people and I guess ultimately those types of people end up in those places and fiction gets a little closer to reality. Mind you, based on that theory Paris and Manhattan will be full of outwardly sophisticated but inwardly neurotic singletons, market towns in the UK – say, Bridport and Stowe on the Wold – will be full of yummy mummies and older atmospheric places – Whitby and Bath, perhaps – will be full of romantics in Victorian corsets?
But here’s my point – there must be single people everywhere, even if their daily backdrops and careers are less glamorous. I, for example, am single in Southampton and I don’t mean the summer hot spot of the US version. I’m a spinster sandwiched between the Isle of Wight and the M3 – the most dramatic visuals here are the transitory cruise ships which, I suppose, retain some of that 1950s glamour of travel to the rest of the world. We don’t have enough boutiques or lovely places for the yummy mummies, we lost too many buildings over the years for any costume dramas and (despite the best efforts of the strikers) we’re not quite ready for a gritty working class drama. So, here I am seeking a plot cliché to fit my location.