North West England

Heart of the City

by Louise Tutt

Crackle’s energetic black comedy Snatch is an original 10-part series based on Guy Ritchie’s 2000 film of the same name, and tells the story of a group of charismatic would-be hustlers who become entangled in London’s dangerous Cockney gangster scene. It is a world of street markets, pubs and broad London accents shot entirely on location in Manchester, 160 miles to the north west of London — testament to the versatility and diversity of the UK’s filming locations.

“We were looking for the rough, gritty aesthetic of the original Snatch film and parts of Manchester do that very well,” says John Orlando, vice president of development at Crackle, the online US streaming service owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment.

“We had conversations with the British Film Commission, as well as our local producers and scouts, who made us feel comfortable with the aesthetic we could achieve in Manchester,” he continues. “Our biggest concern was being able to capture the authenticity of the tone and look we needed in order to satisfy the loyal fans of the Snatch movie.”

Crackle brought on Helen Flint and Jean Holdsworth of London-based Little Island Productions (Galavant, Close To The Enemy) to line-produce the series. “Choosing a location for a series is a big decision,” says Orlando. “First off, the location must work creatively. Once that determination has been made, the financial implications and logistics in terms of crews, sets, ease of access, tax credits, etc, are all part of the decision- making process. The UK tax credit proved to be very valuable.”

City tour

Using mostly local crew, the production shot all over Manchester, including in the city centre, the Northern Quarter and in the suburbs. It also did some work at Old Granada Studios, where the production offices were based, and spent two days on location in Liverpool. One of the biggest logistical challenges was recreating a busy market scene set against a big city skyline, a scene that was shot in the studio backlot and completed by Bournemouth-based Outpost VFX.

“Our producers and design team ended up building a brilliant market set and then used VFX to fill in the skyline,” Orlando explains. “It was no easy feat, but we think it was accomplished with great skill and results.”

Snatch is created and written by former music video director Alex de Rakoff, who also has an executive producer credit. He has crafted an entirely new story with new characters, played by a charismatic cast of young UK actors including Rupert Grint, Stephanie Leonidas, Phoebe Dynevor, Luke Pasqualino, Lucien Laviscount and Ed Westwick. The UK’s Nick Renton, whose credits include The Musketeers, directs.

“I’m a huge fan of the original film,” says De Rakoff. “[Guy Ritchie] opened up a whole new genre of films in terms of how to approach criminality and what can be done with tone and style.” The new series shot for six months from September 2016 to February 2017. It is Crackle’s first production to shoot in the UK, and Orlando for one is keen to return.

“Manchester is a great city,” he says. “It reminds me a lot of Brooklyn in that it’s a city that’s evolving, that’s moving up. It has great crews, a variety of looks, and we had a very good experience. We would certainly consider returning.”

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