Later this year, Netflix is due to release the third series of its popular historical drama, The Crown. Supervising Location Manager, Pat Karam, tells us about his role finding locations for the series
What does you job involve?
My job is divided into two parts. The creative part which comes first where we go through the script with the director and the production designer and we identify what is likely to be a location and what is likely to be a set. On the Crown it’s predominantly locations. The designer and director will tell me what they want from a particular location, it might need a certain character to it or it might need a certain geographical layout or it might need to look like something. We go through a lot of reference photos. There’s quite a big research dept on The Crown. We look at what the reality is to a lot of these places and then we decide whether to stick to the reality. Sometimes it’s not strictly necessary that a certain house looks exactly like the certain house did in real life. It’s got to reflect the character as well. My job is to find the locations and then we show them to the director and designer. Once all the locations are found my job becomes more logistical. Making sure everything can get to the locations and be run efficiently.
How do you choose the locations for The Crown?
We are half way through shooting season 3 now. Quite a few of the locations we’ve used are locations we’ve used for every season. When we started we had to decide which locations we wanted to use. A lot of the places we portray in the show there aren’t many options for them. We have to recreate Buckingham Palace and there’s probably only a hand full of buildings in the country that are grand enough to do that. We had to work out how our Buckingham Palace and our other locations, our Sandringhams, our Windsor Castles how they all fitted together. Quite often one location won’t provide you with everything you need. Our Buckingham Palace is made up of three stately homes. It’s an amalgamation of five different locations if you include the sets. We’ve used Lancaster House in every season. There’s the huge state rooms which everyone wants to see which we do at Lancaster House, then there’s Wilton House near Salisbury, then our audience room in a smaller stately home. The private quarters are all sets. We used Greenwich Naval College as the exterior on seasons 1 and 2.
What is filming in the UK like?
We’ve got a vast range of locations that are very attractive to filmmakers. The Crown is a very good example of that. The Crown’s a very good showcase for some of the best of British locations. People do tend to assume that filming in the UK is an endless parade round stately homes which in the case of The Crown it is , but there’s a lot more to it than that. In the case of The Crown, the sort of locations there are in the UK are very useful for the world we’re trying to recreate.
What is it like working on The Crown?
You can get a bit blasé about it. I mean Lancaster House is one of the grandest buildings in the country. It’s fantastic. That’s one of the best things about being a location manager. The access to going and seeing places and different worlds that as a lay person you might not get access to. In the case of The Crown it’s particularly rewarding because they tend to be such fabulous locations. There seems to be a never-ending supply of them.
What are your favourite locations from the series?
We always enjoy filming at Lancaster House because it is one of the centres of the story. It’s the grandure that people want to and expect to see at some point in the story. I always really liked the coronation and the wedding of Philip and Elizabeth in Ely Cathedral, which is an incredibly beautiful building which doubles very well as at Westminster Abbey. I’ve always really enjoyed the filming we do in Scotland. Our version of Balmoral which is the Ardverikie Estate. Those are the highlights for me.
What do viewers have to look forward to with Season 3 of The Crown?
It’s going to be very good. One of the great things about The Crown is it moves through the ages. The royal residences stay constant. There are loads of beautiful locations to look forward to.