An Interview with Lee Haven Jones, Lead Director of crime drama The Bay, which was filmed in and around Morecambe.
How did you become involved with The Bay?
I was sent a script back in April of last year and it was a rather wonderful first episode. It has fantastically strong characters; very believable and a really strong narrative drive as well which kind of takes you through to the end - I just couldn’t put it down. It was a real page turner.
What is the process that you go through to bring these scripts to life?
Well, there are, I guess, two elements. It was called The Bay, so it was set in Morecambe and that’s the first place where one kind of starts; the location of the drama and fortunately Morecambe Bay is an incredibly evocative place. It’s a huge estuary with vast plains of sand with a little seaside coastal town that has seen better days. So, that’s your initial starting point.
Then I started to think about depictions of the British seaside over the last century which led me, first of all, to those rather classical vintage travel posters and then from there to the work of John Hind, who was a postcard photographer. He made a series of postcards, for example, for Billy Butlin and for the holiday camps. That took me to the work of a photographer called Martin Parr who did a sequence of photographs of New Brighton which is just down the coast from Morecambe. The collection was called The Last Resort and I synthesised all these depictions and found that actually there were themes running through them all. Some of the themes, for example, were a real sort of strong graphic element which I think we’ve tried to incorporate within the framing of the piece. There’s a really bold use of colour and then when you contrast that with the greyness of a sandy Morecambe, it brings a really nice contrast of grey, gritty realism with splashes of colour.
Read this: Everything you need to know about why ITV drama The Bay was filmed in Morecambe
What did Morecambe bring to the scripts?
The light is quite incredible in Morecambe and so changeable and unpredictable. One morning will be grey and grim and then the clouds will clear and then it becomes rather fantastic and the drab sand kind of reflects the light and it just looks incredible. The other thing that’s noticeable about the area is the sky seems bigger than it does elsewhere and that’s one of the aspects that we try to incorporate within the framing of the piece as well. The viewers will see that there’s quite a lot of headroom about the characters and that helps in terms of a crime story where it makes the characters look small in the frame.
Did you film any scenes on the sands?
The sands in Morecambe Bay are treacherous with the water disappearing very quickly and it comes back in just as quickly. There’s a sequence at the end of Episode 1 which is a night scene on the sands in Morecambe and we had to check the tide times and work with the RNLI to ensure that the tide wasn’t going to come in sweep us all away and, of course, that night… as it happened, we had wind of about 25 to 30 miles per hour, we had rain sporadically so, yes, it’s a real challenge to kind of work in that environment.