Pedestrians wore confused expressions as a small crowd gathered on Sheffield’s Wicker looking as if they had stepped straight out of the 1970s.
The film How to Talk to Girls at Parties, starring Hollywood heavyweights Nicole Kidman, Elle Fanning and Alex Sharp, has started shooting in Sheffield.
Actors wearing high waisted flares, corduroy jackets and extra-large collars have been shooting on location at Record Junkee on Cambridge Street, La Perle Cafe in the Wicker, and private homes in Meersbrook.
Shafique Abbas, a security guard from Pitsmoor, watched the actors on the Wicker and said: “I think it’s unique. You don’t see this often in Sheffield.”
Based on the short story by Neil Gaiman, the movie is a science-fiction romance set in 1970s South London.
The film follows Enn, played by the Tony-award winning Alex Sharp, as a young punk in Croydon who crashes a party. There, he meets Elle Fanning’s character, Zan, who is actually an alien touring the galaxy.
Head of production Richard Knight said: “It’s bonkers, it’s brilliant. It’s like boy meets girl, but boy meets alien. Reading the script, you think you’ve got a handle on it, but because they’re aliens, it constantly surprises.”
Richard, a Sheffield native who knows the city like the back of his hand, is keen on bringing international talent to his home town.
The 41-year-old said small business owners are usually bemused when he approaches them with filming opportunities.
He said: “People go home every evening and watch TV, but they just never imagine that it will be made on their street or in their cafe.
“It brings a real buzz to Sheffield. The councils and local residents are getting really up for it.”
Richard, who has worked on projects such as This is England, Billionaire Boy and X + Y, finds that his job is getting increasingly difficult. He said: “The thing with Sheffield, is that the modernisation is fantastic, but it becomes harder with every project to find the stuff that will work.”
For How to Talk to Girls at Parties, the filmmakers have to make sure modern cars, satellite dishes, and sleek high rises don’t make it into the shot. Even speed bumps have to be avoided.
Despite this, Richard said Sheffield is gaining a positive reputation among other producers and filmmakers. He said: “They’ll go back to Soho, or LA, and they’ll say Sheffield was really great, we did it on budget, on time, and everyone was really welcoming. And that counts for masses of stuff, it’s brilliant.
“Sheffield culture at the moment just feels like it’s at an all-time high with everything that happens in the city. It feels like film is a part of that cultural story.
“I constantly hear about The Fully Monty, but we’ve moved on from that. We’re bringing projects in that are really exciting and building some legacy that lasts. That’s what I love doing.”