We spoke with Raquel Barrigana at Alternative Venues, London, to discuss their role, how the venue hire department has helped facilitate productions, and Raquel's personal filming highlights.
What does your role consist of at Alternative Venues London?
I am responsible for managing and strengthening AVL’s relationships with our Key Accounts, our long term hire clients, and our main partners. I also attend a lot of networking events and conferences to get the word out there about who we are and what we do and build new relationships. I work very closely with the rest of the AVL team and usually end up being involved in different projects to strategically help grow the business.
What has been your most challenging film experience?
Quite often in the film industry, productions want to build sets and adapt spaces and, due to the nature of our buildings, we have some restrictions when it comes to changing the fabric of the building. Therefore, it can become challenging when clients ask to drill things into walls and ceilings and build permanent sets — although drilling is not normally allowed, we always manage to find a solution to keep the client happy.
What has been your most exciting or rewarding film experience?
Between 2018 and 2019, we had a big production filmed at one of our locations for the film Misbehaviour (2020) and it was fascinating how they completely transformed simple areas like a large hall and classrooms to spectacular dressing and makeup rooms, a kitchen, a jail cell and glamorous toilets. When the production left, it was like nothing ever happened as they returned the areas to their original state!
What is the most recent feature or TV drama that has filmed at one of your locations?
Our location in Kingston was one of the base locations for the film Military Wives (2019), released a few months ago. They primarily used our hall and bar areas to shoot choir rehearsal scenes and several conversations that take place throughout the film. This was a particularly exciting project as the plot is very relatable to many colleagues of mine.
What is your favourite part of the venue and has anyone ever filmed there?
One of my favourite locations is the one at Chancery Lane, Lincolns Inn, 10 Stone Buildings.
It was constructed between 1770 and 1775 and is a Grade 1 Listed building. When you walk all the way up to the Officers Mess Suite, it feels like you are inside a palace and it’s very glamorous. The walls are covered in beautiful paintings and the wallpaper is exquisite. A frequent visitor was Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother who was the Royal Honorary Colonel of the Inns of Court Regiment from 1961 to her death in 2002. She used to spend time in the Mess and there is a portrait of her over the fireplace, next to an old, grand piano.
Which part of the venue is most-favoured by productions?
All of our locations have several versatile areas, which are great for productions to play around with and transform, but the most-favoured are the large halls and spacious outdoor areas. We regularly book Unit Bases and productions usually like using our halls as a crew base.
Is there anything unexpected or surprising about the venue, that people might not be aware of currently?
Some of our locations are claimed to be haunted! Fulham House, one of our locations available for hire that is also our headquarters, is a famous one. It is one of the oldest properties in Fulham and there has been a building on the site all the way back to the 14th century. There have been reports of ghost sightings throughout the years and I personally have noticed a few of the items on my desk to change places overnight and some issues with electronic items.
What is your favourite film/TV show of all time?
I’ve probably watched thousands of films and series throughout my life. I grew up being very exposed to American and Hollywood culture and my parents used to rent Blockbuster DVDs all the time. I am partial to horror and terror and it’s difficult to impress me anymore but I have to say that the Haunting of Hill House (2018) is one of my all-time favourites.
Who would play you in a film bio of your life?
A few of my colleagues have previously said I look like Liv Tyler when I have red lipstick on so I guess I’ll take the complement and she could play me as long she’s wearing glasses and red lipstick, ha!