I had a flat, WE had a flat, Ron and I. It was a nice flat. A VERY nice flat. I found it, I picked it above all others. It was devoid of black leather couches, it had Timorous Beasties wallpaper, it was unfurnished. I was pretty unimpressed with the state of most short term corporate rentals. Perfectly suited, I supposed, for a traveling business man who perhaps LIKES a black leather couch to watch sports on.
Not me, so much.
I had asked our housing coordinator if it would be possible to not look at flats with leather couches. She looked at me with puzzlement and suggested I just throw some fabric over it.
I really did not want to explain what a freak I am about housing. It has to be right. It has to give me pleasure, and above all it must provide sanctuary. A film production provides no sanctuary. It is a harsh existence. Long hours and dreary environments ( except my office, which I always decorate). We all work 12 – 14 hour days, and go home only to sleep. It becomes an unforgiving and stingy life. I discovered years and years ago that I HAD to have a sanctuary. I had to be able to close the door behind me, breathe a sigh of relief that I had come home once again.
Plus, I like the adventure of living in a new place, living local. Most people on a film crew live in hotels or more recently corporate housing. I have come to HATE hotels. Doesn’t matter how posh they may be. There is no personality in a hotel, it is an anonymous environment. I need to make a cup of tea and sweep a floor to feel like a whole person. So I gave up hotels 20 years ago. As a result, I have had some incredible sanctuaries over the years. Houses perched on cliffs, on inlets off of the ocean, a loft in Soho, apartment in Paris, a converted storefront in Vancouver, it’s a long list. It’s something I got from my mother.
We moved a LOT, but she never accepted anything ordinary. She would look and look until she found something incredible. Thus we lived in a string of really amazing homes, not expensive homes, but definitely out of the ordinary. We once lived in a 1930s house that was designed to look like an ocean liner. It had a teak lined dining room and a secret mirrored bar that popped out of the wall when a button was pushed, and a stainless steel spiral staircase that only lacked a Busby Berkeley Revue. Finding those houses required hard work and diligence. I remember we would wait outside of the newspaper office on Fridays so she could get the housing listings before anyone else. It paid off, and I am grateful for that gift of diligence and perseverance.
My sanctuaries are often off the beaten track and require a long drive to work. Other crew members think I am nuts. But that drive is part of the experience. I leave work behind, process the trials and tribulations on the drive home, and by the time I pull up to my home, my mind is clean.
Anyway, the flat. It was empty, it was all design-y, marble bathrooms, nice floors, brand new everything. Walking distance to all the shops and restaurants. Beautiful neighborhood, great view. It was like a very posh hotel.
I power shopped a day at Ikea and furnished it all. Two bedrooms, living room, towels, bedding pots, pans, dishes glassware. A trip to the nicer shop provided a rug, />a drama lamp and a couple of pieces of cool art work.
Very nice. If I had been a young graphic designer, it would have been perfect. It required nothing from me. That was the problem. It had no soul, and thus did nothing to feed mine.
One day while shooting at Doune Castle, I was standing in the middle of a field and looking around. It was beautiful, the light was amazing, the trees were a million incredible colors, ambers, gold, green, there were cows.I am passionate about cows. Some of you may have seen photos from that day, of our cast in the garden. And the garden was just the kind of garden I would have. An 18th century garden.
I said to someone. “why can’t I live here, I’d be happy here.”
So I started looking for a little house in the country…