Location of the Month 2009
December 2009 - Pinner High Street
Nowhere Boy is the directorial feature debut of artist film-maker Sam Taylor-Wood.
Set in Liverpool, where the majority of shooting took place, the production also made use of many period locations in North West London which doubled for 1940's Merseyside - Pinner High Street was amongst them.
The film is based on the book 'Imagine This: Growing Up With My Brother John Lennon' by Lennon's half sister, charting Lennon's teenage years and his first steps to stardom. It focuses on the influence his Aunt Mimi (played by Kristin Scott Thomas) and mother Julia (Anne-Marie Duff) had on his early life, as well as his friendship with future fellow Beatle, Paul McCartney. Aaron Johnson takes the lead role as this enigmatic figure.
Location Manager, Jason Wheeler, recalls the shoot: 'We filmed a number of key scenes on Pinner High Street which showed John at his youthful and mischievous best - surfing on a bus roof, flirting with pretty girls and goading other young lads. For us, the High Street also had an uncanny resemblance to one of the streets in the area Lennon grew up in, so it really did fit the bill very well.'
Pinner is a commuter suburb in the London Borough of Harrow. The oldest part of the village sits around the 14th Century parish church of St. John the Baptist, but it is the garden estates that sprung up rapidly during the 1930's - at the encouragement of the Metropolitan Railway - which give the area its present-day suburban character.
'It's really lucky to have a lot of very well preserved architecture', Jason continues, 'much of its fine preservation is down to the conservation orders in place and when you see these locations on film it makes you appreciate how important their protection is.'
Mike Liddall from West London Film Office recalls how the production succeeded in spellbinding the public: 'They seemingly managed to turn back the hands of time and transformed Pinner High Street to a leafy Liverpool suburb in the 1950's. All traffic was halted and what in ordinarily modern life may have caused complaints, resulted in nothing more than smiles and giggles. That's the power of movie making.'
Jason agrees - 'it worked very well indeed and despite all we had to do, in terms of additional dressing and holding the roads and traffic, the people of Pinner were incredibly supportive and helpful. We also made a donation to a local trust towards causes specific to the area, so everyone benefited from the filming.'
'Like all location filming, if you approach the authorities and residents with appropriate respect and appreciation, you almost always get great help and support back. Generally people enjoy going to the movies and making period films is good fun and great to see. We thoroughly enjoyed our time filming there and our thanks go out to all the residents of Pinner.'
Nowhere Boy received its world premiere at the closing night gala of The Times BFI 53rd London Film Festival and will go on general release on 26 December.
To film on Pinner High Street, or anywhere in Harrow, please contact Mike Liddall or Ewan Willmott at the West London Film Office on 020 8825 7575. Visit the website for further information: www.westlondonfilmoffice.co.uk.