Going off-line in the Big A

Argonon has great reach now across the waters with a keen presence in both the UK, the USA & Canada, luckily for me this has meant that my job as a Line Producer, MD and now General Manager has taken me many times to locations far and away from The Angel Islington on the Group’s behalf.

For years, my family have watched as I have packed a wheelie bag and headed to the airport to go off on shoots in Dallas, San Francisco or LA, and more recently to New York. I got to see inside mansions in the Hollywood Hills, on boats with the Miami police, in top secret labs, the amazing movement sensitive toilets in the IBM building (shhhhhh), live operations, lock ups in police stations & Hillary Clinton in The White House.

More particularly in New York I have filmed sunsets on top of The Twin Towers, sunrises up The Empire State Building, Paul O’Grady in a Horse and Cart in Central Park, Cilla Black having tea on the Upper East Side and of course for Leopardrama we closed Bleeker St to film sequences with John Hurt and Cynthia Nixon and shot scenes in Brooklyn and Queens taking with us all the detritus of the movies, Winnebagos, wardrobe and makeup vans, trucks with all the lights and camera kit on them, caterers and the accompanying crew of onlookers who were just passing and fancied a snack.

So, my recent trip to New York was going to be very different to any trip I had done before. Finally after years of promises, I took Daisy my 21 year old on the trip of a lifetime to NYC to celebrate her 21st. This was not a work trip, I took 5 days leave to spend time with her in Manhattan gadding about shopping and drinking Cosmopolitans with that wonderful architecture and noise as our background

When you are working abroad you see a side of life that tourists don’t normally see, it’s like your own private tailored tour guide designed by you and peopled by the locals. When you visit as a tourist it’s a totally different experience. Your days are unplanned, anything can happen, you might bump into a gentleman architect outside The Seagram Building and have a 15 minute conversation about a stroll down Park Avenue, or meet four very drunk very loud very married Manhattenites who want to buy you drinks, or hang out with two Hong Kong socialites ‘here just for the shopping’. It was all very refreshing.

We did one tourist thing every day, A Sex and The City Bus Tour, four hours of good solid fun with a Cosmo at the end, a visit to Ground Zero, moving, extraordinary and intense, Times Square by Day, noisy dirty bright and fun, Times Square by night, the same but more glittery, pictures at the top of The Rock! Expensive and sick making after all those Cosmos, a full on American movie experience in the Regal with an audience that roared at each joke, a stroll down Broadway to Soho, a fabulous four hour visit to The Museum of Modern Art where we discovered our aesthetic differences (I still can’t be persuaded to love Picasso) and of course vintage shops, bookshops, designer shops, shoe shops, discount shops, shop shops and just plain old shopping

As we were staying in a part of town I was unfamiliar with, breakfast was a bit hit and miss. One day we had Rice Crispies and Half&Half in our room, another day we went to a little bistro near Times Square and had fabulous pancakes, one day we made the mistake having breakfast in the Waldorf Astoria! We took a doggy bag of buns out with us as a matter of principle.

When you are working, people take you out, they buy you drinks and show you nice places. When you are a tourist you either make friends or rely on old friends. We had a brilliant night with Livvy, Wendy & Rebecca from LFUSA. We went and had cocktails on a rooftop bar with a valentine pink Empire State in the background, chicken and chips in the East Village and then cocktails in white china cups and saucers at a Speakeasy round the corner (location top secret).

One night we were so exhausted we ordered room service and sat on our beds eating Waldorf Salads and watching Die Hard on the massive TV in our room. It was just brilliant.

So I do recommend taking time out of your busy working life and re-visiting those places you have only ever been to as a professional maker of hit television shows.

Next year I might repeat the treat, but don’t tell her yet, she’s never been to New Orleans so it’s gonna be a bit of a surprise!