Chris Martin, Peter Boboras, Michael Campbell and Chris Dunn are all responsible for Location Management (LM) on Queer As Folk. They are in charge of finding the places where the show will shoot when a particular set has not already been created in the studio. A location manager's direction comes primarily from the Production Designer and the Director. Officially, they work five days a week, but it's usually closer to seven, and fourteen hour days are not unheard of. Luckily for the crew, QAF is very well organized and he usually receives the scripts well ahead of time, so they can begin scouting locations early. In television, that is not always the case... some crews go into the first day of prep with no draft script at all.
A typical day of work for an LM begins with showing photographs of various locations to the powers that be, hoping that one or two of them will be selected. The real preparatory work starts with getting clearances from the city, which are the permits for filming on the street, and negotiating for the use of various locations with the owners of particular homes or businesses being used in the shoot. The LM must also deal with the various government bodies that are involved for any city permits that are needed (for example, paid duty from the police).
Finding a location that matches a scene in the script can often be difficult. For example, Peter Boboras and his team scouted countless mansions when looking for the George Schickel character's residence. When they finally found one, it had a fantastic look but it was empty on the inside. They thought it was worth it just from the look of both the interior and the exterior. Even with the bare walls, it was beautiful -- including a huge Orson Welles fireplace and pillars off the main hall, right out of Citizen Kane (hence Emmett's exclamation, "Holy Xanadu!" in the script). Unfortunately, it turned out that the property was involved in litigation and the owner couldn't rent it to them. They were very disappointed. That led Peter to the small town of Oshawa, and the R. S. McLaughlin estate (also known as the Parkwood Estate, see below) to finalize the deal. R. S. McLaughlin founded the McLaughlin Motor Car Company and created the Buick, which General Motors eventually bought. That's where they ended up, and it was fully furnished.
The strangest location Peter has had to search for was the bathhouse. "It's not every day that you go into these places!" he exclaims. "I scouted a couple of places, took photos of the various bathhouses. Based on the photos that I took, from two or three different places, a composite was created on the stage. We created a bath house on the set because as we got into it we realized that there were going to be certain difficulties with filming in any one of these bathhouse spaces." (No kidding...)
The Location Manager pays attention to the relation a certain location will have to another when looking for it. In speaking with the producers and writers, how much they want to get away with in terms of how often they're going back to the same location. Peter likes to find 'groupings.' For example, when they are shooting down on Church Street for Liberty Ave., they have a central place to park; the gym that is used for shots is close to that location and Brian's loft exterior is about two minutes in a straight line from the gym. Things like that make it easier and quicker to shoot exterior shots.
The Toronto Film & Television Office (TFTO) promotes Toronto's production industry and coordinates location filming throughout the entire city. Their site offers access to state of the art facilities and services from pre-production to post-production. "On Location" is another great resource for a TV series like QAF. It's a guide to Ontario's Film & Video industry, which includes Warehouses, Studios and Sets available for production. It's also an interesting surf for those who enjoy a 'behind-the-scenes' look at the process.
Liberty Ave is like no gay strip the crew has ever seen. According to Peter, it's a bit of both the fantasy Pittsburgh and the real Pittsburgh, mostly because of the way the show is. Liberty Ave., even though it's shot on Church Street in Toronto's gay village, and looks similar to the real Pittsburgh, doesn't even look like the "real" Village. Also, the art department has research done and has obtained as many photos and references from Pittsburgh that they can. Peter will go online from time to time to check out what he can in Pittsburgh.
[source: Showtime Web site]