Matt Graver: The Queen’s Gambit

Location Manager Matt Graver on the locations of The Queen’s Gambit.

DGC Ontario Production The Queen’s Gambit is one of the standout series of 2020. Since its release on Netflix in October, the series reached #1 on Netflix and has a 100% Certified Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The series was shot in Cambridge, Toronto, Hamilton and Aurora before moving to Germany, and we caught up with Location Manager Matt Graver who shared his favourite location of the show and why he thinks The Queen’s Gambit is such a hit!

How did you get involved with The Queen’s Gambit?

I had worked with Line Producer Wanda Chaffey on several shows in the past and she reached out to me to me along with Production Manager Catherine Lang, whom I also had a great history of working with. 

A scene from The Queen's Gambit
THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT Episode 104 of THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT Cr. KEN WORONER/NETFLIX © 2020

What was your favourite location on The Queen’s Gambit

A scene from The Queen's Gambit
THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT Episode 104 of THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT Cr. KEN WORONER/NETFLIX © 2020

For myself and the crew, it was great to have our last location days in Cambridge on the peaceful street of the hero house, especially after some larger multi-location days in downtown Toronto and Hamilton. The hero house was captured so magically by Director Scott Frank, Cinematographer Steven Meizler, Production Designer Uli Hanisch and Art Director Brendan Smith, with terrific scouting by Fred Kamping and Aidan Dunstan.

A scene from The Queen's Gambit
THE QUEENÕS GAMBIT (L to R) ANYA TAYLOR-JOY as BETH HARMON in episode 105 of THE QUEENÕS GAMBIT Cr. KEN WORONER/NETFLIX © 2020

My favourite shot is the exterior New York Street outside the King Edward Hotel when Beth is viewing a store display and pondering her reflection. Our downtown days were bookended by the accident scene on our first shoot day over Little Rouge Creek and our last day at the hero house in Cambridge. Big thanks to the film offices in Toronto, Hamilton, and Cambridge for helping Scott Frank and Netflix achieve their grand vision.

A scene from The Queen's Gambit
THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT Episode 102 of THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT Cr. KEN WORONER/NETFLIX © 2020

What do you love about working in Toronto/Ontario? 

The annual Toronto International Film Festival and the fact that you can see almost every good film here year round on a screen, even if it has a limited release. The dynamism and diversity of the ever-growing and changing multicultural population. As a sports fan, the representation in four of five major sports leagues (soon to be five, fingers crossed).

A behind the scenes look of the set of The Queen's Gambit

What is your reaction to the show’s growing popularity?

I knew it had a very strong chance at garnering a large following given the universal appeal of chess and the team at the helm but being number one on Netflix in 27 countries so quickly was not something I expected! It is a welcome surprise to be a part of hit series based on a novel by Walter Tevis. Walter’s novels The Hustler and The Color of Money have both garnered multiple Academy Award nominations and wins for their screen adaptations. I had witnessed firsthand the brilliant cinematography of Steven Meizler, having worked with him on The Girlfriend Experience in 2015, but he took his skills to another level on The Queen’s Gambit. Also, the riveting acting and commanding screen presence of Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon. Anya has a lot to do with the show’s popularity and bodes well for her having a long and successful career. 

A behind the scenes look of the set of The Queen's Gambit

What are some of your favourite locations in Ontario?

The Royal Ontario Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the intersection around the Flat Iron Building and Berczy Park where we did the department store scene. Period urban locations always look great on screen but being downtown can take a toll on you. Anytime we can get out into Caledon, Hockley Hills, Aurora or Uxbridge into farm and horse country is a great location for me. 

Photos courtesy of Ken Woroner/Netflix and Matt Graver

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