Traces is centred around protagonist Emma Hedges, who returns to her hometown in Dundee to solve her mother’s murder. The female led crime drama came to our screens earlier this month and has featured filming locations around the north west. We spoke to the Assistant Location Manager Laura Power about the challenges and excitement around the production.
What was the biggest challenge on Traces?
One of them was a location in Partington, because obviously the scale; the communication that I and the team had to do, just to get everyone prepared prior to filming. We had to let a certain radius of residents know what was happening, and when, weeks in advance. We had to carry out a couple of letter drops and interact with local residents in this time, before we could even think about filming there … (partly because of) environmental health issues as we were going to be filming after 11pm. Because we were including emergency services in the scene so it looked like a real fire, the passers-by, local residents and businesses couldn’t be alarmed. It was quite a big set-up, as there was also the build itself on location which was going on for several weeks prior to filming and the de-rig for several weeks after as well. The location was used for different scenes – the team only had a week to make the location look like a real fire had happened, and then go back again so they could film the scene where the fire started; there was a challenge with the daylight scheduling at this time too.
A list of the locations: a nightclub, a university, an old retail building, bars, hotels, gardens, villages halls – quite an involved location shoot?!
Yes, it was really full on – I can’t remember exactly how many locations there were all in all, but we did move location at least every single day. There was a section during the middle of the shoot where we were in one building but had set moves and builds in the location, in the middle of Bolton and there are many things you need to take into consideration when filming in the middle of a town centre. Local businesses and residents of course, but also being in a secure environment is essential, so we could control what was going on and not impact those around us. With a studio and set build there, you have that control and security, but the locations are so good!
Plenty of places to build in the North West at the moment, aren’t there?
Yes – we found some fantastic places, especially in Bolton, where we used an old retail space and then also council buildings that were opposite each other. We weren’t restricted with scheduling or anything – we could just come and go as we saw fit because the buildings were empty, so we had that control again. We also used the old Magistrates’ Court, we built a couple of sets with that – office space was one… and we also used the old police cells in the actual courtroom. It was great for us – you can do so much with it, it’s multi-faceted.
What can viewers expect from Traces?
… Oh God! Erm… Loads of drama! They’ll certainly give the viewers what they want, everyone will be on the edge of their seats with what’s going on. As it’s about an unsolved murder case (unfortunately someone passes away as of the result of the fire), and an investigation under way – but there’s many routes and paths that the viewer can follow before they find out who it was.
We also had the opportunity to talk to Bobby Cochrane from Screen Manchester about the production:
“It was great to facilitate Traces (Red Production Company for Alibi) in Manchester and we worked very closely with the locations department to support and permit their requests across the city. Key locations included city centre bars, restaurants and hotels, as well as residential properties and park locations to the south and north of the city. With Manchester doubling as Dundee, it shows the fantastic diverse range of locations that the city has to offer for urban, suburban and rural scenes. I am really looking forward to watching the series!”
Traces will be shown on BBC until early 2020. You can find out more about the production on their website.