/News 02.04.24

Location Manager Jeremy Peek on why Sydney was the ideal location for hit rom-com Anyone But You

Based on William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, romantic comedy Anyone But You has become a global box office smash since its release in cinemas, grossing over $200 million worldwide.

The feature film, which has resonated with audiences all over the world thanks in part to a playful credit sequence at the end of the movie which sparked a viral TikTok trend, was shot and largely set in Sydney, Australia. Featuring an all-star cast including Sydney Sweeney, Glen Powell, Dermot Mulroney, Rachel Griffiths and Bryan Brown, Anyone But You was supported by Screen NSW through the Made in NSW Fund and showcases some of the most beautiful landscapes and locations Sydney has to offer.

Off the back of its box office success, Screen NSW spoke to Location Manager Jeremy Peek, whose previous credits include Mad Max: Fury Road and Alien: Covenant, about scouting Sydney’s iconic landmarks and why he thinks audiences can’t get enough of Anyone But You

When promoting Anyone But You Director Will Gluck spoke enthusiastically about his love for filming in Australia and how he decided to set the film in Sydney to showcase the city. Can you talk to us about some of the advantages and challenges you have as a Location Manager working on a project which aims to spotlight a specific location like Anyone But You?

I have been fortunate enough to have worked with Will Gluck on all three of the films he shot in Sydney – Peter Rabbit and Peter Rabbit 2, and now Anyone But You. We have scouted all over but this was a special one as Will has such a fond love of Sydney, it was almost his passion project to show off all the best bits of the city to the world. Which then of course lead us to hitting all the landmarks, including Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Bondi Beach and Palm Beach, but the challenge was that these are all major tourist landmarks in the city and we needed to be able to have full control over these spaces to film there! Particularly when it came to the Sydney Opera House, Will Gluck couldn’t just have a simple romantic gesture happen there, he wanted to go big, so that meant there was a number of meetings and negotiations that had to happen, but for the most part everyone in Sydney is incredibly accommodating with an attitude of ‘if we can, we will’.

Still courtesy Sony Pictures Entertainment

As you mentioned, Anyone But You features some key landmarks like the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Can you talk us through the logistics of securing those locations for filming?

The Sydney Opera House is a unique one as there is a generic approval process you can go through for filming there – however there is no check box for having an actor jump out of a rescue helicopter onto the Sydney Opera Steps! So as you’d imagine there were many varied governing bodies that needed to approve it to get filming there over the line. However, I’d worked with the team at the Sydney Opera House in the past on another film called Bleeding Steel where we had Jackie Chan fighting on top of the sails, and recently Screen NSW Location Manager Lisa Scope and the team from The Fall Guy shot an incredible sequence there as well, which helped the management team realise what is possible, even though there is no standard procedure for approving some of the wild requests we have to ask.

Still courtesy Sony Pictures Entertainment

Much of the film is set in a beautiful beach house. I imagine as so many scenes were shot there, it was quite a process to choose the location, given it would be so heavily featured. How did you go about finding the right location for this?

We scouted an endless number of houses, and it ended up becoming the ultimate Goldilocks search – we found a house with a great beach view, but the rooms were too small, the rooms in another house were too big, or there was not enough view of the beach. We had a team of people scouting all across Sydney and at one point we were even looking at potentially filming the house scenes at Byron Bay or on the South Coast of NSW. But we had to keep looking.

Then one afternoon when we thought we had enough and were only a couple of weeks away from filming I remembered a house I had driven past years ago in Sydney that was a bit left field of the brief but I decided to go visit it anyway. I walked up their driveway and it was chaos – there was a kids birthday party on, the neighbour’s dog was chasing chickens around the yard. They asked me to wait while they caught the dog, caught the runaway chickens and put away the piñata. I then walked around, photographed the house, showed it to Will Gluck, Catherine Bishop (Executive Producer) and Steven Jones-Evans (Production Designer) and they all knew instantly this was it. We contracted and started prep work a week later.

Still courtesy Sony Pictures Entertainment

What were some of your favourite locations in Anyone But You?

My two favourite locations were Marks Park at Tamarama (the wedding location) and, of course, the Sydney Opera House. Elsey Israel was the film’s other location manager and she managed the Marks Park location. It was such a stunning location with incredible views, but the wind that comes off the headland is incredible so, they had many procedures in place where if the wind got too much they’d move to one of the other scenes off the headland. In the film you’d never know that they were dealing with gale force winds at times – it looked like just another beautiful, sunny day at Bondi Beach.

And as for the Opera House, as I mentioned, there’s nothing quite like filming in such an iconic building. You’re walking through the hallowed halls and spaces, and while you have lunch you can hear the Sydney Symphony Orchestra rehearsing. There’s ballerinas eating chips from a vending machine or playing pool in full costume, while we are trying to land a helicopter on the steps – the show literally goes on for these guys while we are flying multiple helicopters over Farm Cove.

GIF courtesy Sony Pictures Entertainment

What are some of the things you keep in mind when location scouting for a rom-com like Anyone But You?

For this particular one, as it was a love letter to Sydney, we were always striving for beauty in every location. Really show Sydney how much you love it, show off all its best bits, even in the city scenes – find the beauty of the city.

Anyone But You is set to become Australia’s second highestgrossing romcom ever. Why do you think it has resonated so strongly with audiences?

I think the timing of this film’s release was perfect. It was at a time where audiences wanted a sweet lovely romantic story that was fun to watch. The added bonus of picking a brilliant song with ‘Unwritten’ for everyone to sing along to also helps in terms of being something that everyone connected with and people all across the world were sharing their videos of them singing the song during the credits, so it unified people all across the world by just having 90 mins of good, lovely and happy fun.

Watch the trailer for Anyone But You now.

Anyone But You was supported by Screen NSW through the Made in NSW Fund.

For information about filming in New South Wales contact Mark Lazarus, Senior Manager, Destination Attraction and the Screen NSW team here.

Photo credit: Jeremy Peek on set of Anyone But You at the Sydney Opera House. Source: Supplied.