If you are part of a current fandom – no matter whether it’s Sherlock, Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, Supernatural, The Walking Dead… the list goes on, – and you follow it somewhat online, you will probably have come across Fangirl Quest’s Sceneframing pictures.
Sceneframing is the brainchild of Tiia Öhman and Satu Walden, two girls from Finland who love to visit filming locations. Together they have travelled around Europe (mainly UK, Ireland and Finland) and the US. Their photos show an iPad with a screen capture from [insert fandom here] in the exact location it was filmed. And the concept has proven so popular, it has become a worldwide phenomenon that left its creators in shock and awe.
(I got to interview the lovely ladies a year ago*. The interview was intended for a publication which ultimately decided not to use it. As I am now free to publish it elsewhere, I didn’t want to deny you this any longer.)
All photographs by Tiia Öhman / FangirlQuest.com
It all started in 2013 with a road trip across the United Kingdom. Tiia and Satu, both originally from Finland and in their thirties, decided to drive all over the country to visit some of the locations they had seen on TV shows Sherlock, Doctor Who, and Merlin, as well as a movie called Third Star.
“Originally, those first sceneframing photos were supposed to be it, but once they got so much attention, we figured this is maybe something we should keep on doing.” The attention they speak of are shares on social media like Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. They launched their official blog in late 2013.
But sceneframing is much more than simply taking a pretty picture in a somewhat famous location. It requires a lot of preparation and a fair bit of sleuthing. Not only do they have to find high quality screen captures, they also need to find the location. “For shows with big, active fanbases, working out the filming location is easy, because there are sites that list the locations and even specify the episodes and/or scenes they were used in,” the two explain. “Sometimes, though, it can require some detective work. Finding the exact location can take going through the scenes in slow motion and comparing the images to Google Street View.” One of the trickiest locations for them was from Pretty Woman. Over the last 20 years, Rodeo Drive changed too much and they could not find the exact spot.
By now they have been to so many locations, that they find it hard to pick a favourite. In the UK, it’s a beautiful beach called Dunraven Bay, which was used as a setting for both Doctor Who and Merlin. In North America, it’s the entire city of Atlanta. “Atlanta was an amazing experience because of all the Walking Dead locations.The atmosphere of these places really is the same as in the show, so you half expect Rick Grimes or Daryl Dixon and a bunch of walkers to come running around the corner. And then we have to mention Vancouver, since it was something of a pilgrimage to get to go where Supernatural is filmed.”
In 2014, Tiia and Satu took a crowd-funded road trip across the US and Canada. Starting in Vancouver and leading them down to San Diego, across to North Carolina and finishing in New York, they were on the road for six weeks and 7,000 miles. “We got to see Supernatural filming in Vancouver and The Walking Dead in Atlanta, and also spent some time on the set of Sleepy Hollow, not to mention having breakfast with one of the show’s cast: Orlando Jones.”
Despite having had several on-set encounters, including meeting Misha Collins and Tahmoh Penikett (Supernatural), and Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead), the breakfast with Orlando Jones was their favourite. “Technically, this wasn’t even an on-set encounter. Tiia contacted him when we were heading to Wilmington, NC, to ask if they were filming and if it would be okay to visit the set and come and say hi. He wasn’t filming at the time, but offered to buy us breakfast instead! He’d actually followed our trip on Twitter, so instead of getting to pick his brain about acting and Sleepy Hollow, we spent the meal regaling him with stories of our adventures,” Satu explains.
The two things the girls never travel without are Tiia’s camera – she is a freelance photographer – and Satu’s iPad. “Other than that, it’s pretty much what any traveller would bring, like good shoes and a bottle of water, as often the locations can take some walking to get to. Then again, Tiia did travel across the US in flip flops.”
A while ago, the two friends moved from Finland to Cardiff in Wales. “If we said that the fact that Doctor Who, Sherlock, and several other favourite shows are filmed in the area had nothing to do with the decision, we’d most certainly be lying…”
Tiia and Satu are well aware that they have started a trend many fangirls and fanboys try to copy. Their advice is: “Just go for it! Most of these places are easier to find than people think. Google some of your favourite shows or films, or if you’re travelling, google what’s been filmed there. The results may surprise you!”
For the future, they are planning to sceneframe Game of Thrones, so Northern Ireland, Croatia and Iceland are high up on their list. “At some point, we’d also love to visit New Zealand. Visiting locations from Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit would be an amazing dream come true!”
Sceneframing may not be as easy as it looks, however. You need to get the angle just right, and there is a pesky little problem fans encounter: the sun reflects so much off the iPad (or other tablet PC, or even printed out pictures), that the glare makes the screencapture almost unrecognisable, even if you use a glare protector. Which is hard if you try to line up a shot and can’t see what you’re trying to recreate. However, the girls mentioned a work-around on Twitter:
* Since my interview with Tiia and Satu, major news outlets have done stories on them, and the girl have visited Game of Thrones locations (among many others). They have taken part in US chat shows via Skype link and in July 2015, they have been flown to New York by Netflix, and invited to go on one of Netflix’ sets!