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Filming location


Filming location

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A filming location is a place where some or all of a film or television series is produced, in addition to or instead of using sets constructed on a studio backlot or soundstage.

On location is a term used to describe the filming on such a real site. The term is often mistakenly believed to mean that the production is being filmed on the actual location in which its story is set, but this is not necessarily the case.


Pros and cons

Location filming has several advantages over filming on a studio set:

  • It can be cheaper than constructing large sets
  • The illusion of reality can be stronger - it is hard to replicate real-world wear-and-tear, and architectural details

Its disadvantages include:

  • A lack of control over the environment - passing aircraft, traffic, pedestrians, bad weather, city regulations, etc.
  • Finding a real-world location which exactly matches the requirements of the script
  • Taking a whole film crew to film on location can be extremely expensive

Location filming can provide significant economic development benefit to an area, including local cast and crew and the use of facilities such as catering and accommodation.


Location filming usually requires a "Location Manager", and locations are usually chosen by a "Location Scout". Many popular locations, such as New York City in the United States, and the Isle of Man in the United Kingdom, have dedicated film offices to encourage location filming, and to suggest appropriate locations to film-makers.

In many cases a second unit is despatched to film location scenes, with a second-unit director and sometimes with stand-in actors. These locations shots can then be edited into the final film or TV program alongside studio-shot sequences, to give an authentic flavour, without the expense or trouble of a full-scale location shoot. NYPD Blue, for example, was filmed primarily in Los Angeles, but used second unit footage of New York City for colour, as well as featuring a small number of seasons filmed on location with the cast.

Substitute locations

It is common for films to be set in one place, but filmed in another, usually for reasons of economy or convenience, but sometimes because the substitute location looks more historically appropriate.

Some substitute filming locations include:

Almerķa, Spain - Pacific South West USA (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, as well as numerous other Spaghetti Westerns)
Bath, UK - Boston, Massachusetts (Sleepy Hollow (1999)
Berlin, Germany - Paris, London (Around the World in 80 Days (2004)), Moscow, Russia (The Bourne Supremacy)
Birmingham, UK - New York City (Velvet Goldmine)
Brent Cross, London, UK - Berlin (Tomorrow Never Dies)
Budapest, Hungary - Berlin (Spy Game), Paris (Maigret - UK TV series (1993))
Chicago elevated railway - New York elevated railway (Spider-Man 2)
City Chambers, Glasgow, Scotland - The Vatican (Heavenly Pursuits)
Fort Hunter Liggett, California - Vietnam (We Were Soldiers)
Glasgow, Scotland - Moscow, Russia (Gorky Park), New York City (The House of Mirth)
Hawaii - West Africa (Tears of the Sun), Brazilian Amazon (The Rundown)
Helsinki, Finland - Moscow, Russia (Gorky Park)
Hedsor House, England - A beautiful english film location (Most Mysterious Murders)
Isle of Man, UK - Ireland (Waking Ned)
Lincoln Cathedral, UK - Westminster Abbey (The Da Vinci Code)
Liverpool, UK - Moscow, Russia (Yentl, The Hunt for Red October)
Madrid, Spain - Moscow, Russia (Doctor Zhivago)
Malta - Ancient Sparta (Troy)
Manchester, UK - New York (Alfie (2004))
Melbourne, Australia - London, New York City (Queen of the Damned)
New Zealand - Japan (The Last Samurai)
Oxford, UK - The Republic of China (Spy Game)
Prague, Czech Republic - Geneva, Paris (The Bourne Identity (2001))
Romania - Los Angeles (Seed of Chucky)
Royal Horticultural Hall, London, UK - interior Berlin Tempelhof Airport (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade)
Seattle, USA - Cicely, Alaska (Northern Exposure)
Seville, Spain - Havana, Cuba (Die Another Day)
Slovakia - California (Ravenous)
South Wales - North Korea (Die Another Day)
St Pancras Hotel, London - Arkham Asylum, Gotham City (Batman Begins)
Saint Petersburg, Russia - Berlin, Germany (Der Untergang (Downfall))
Sydney, Australia - Metropolis (Superman Returns (2006))
Thailand - Various locations around Thailand have been used for many films depicting the Vietnam War era , including The Deer Hunter, The Killing Fields, Casualties of War, Air America and Operation Dumbo Drop.
Tilbury Docks, Essex, UK - Gotham Harbour (Batman Begins)
Vancouver, Canada - Various locations in many films, but often Washington state.
Vienna, Austria - Bratislava, Czechoslovakia (The Living Daylights)

External links

Home | Up | Backlot | Breaking down the script | Cameo appearance | Camera dolly | Clapperboard | Closing credits | Development hell | Feature film | Film budgeting | Film crew | Film finance | Film industry | Filming location | Filmmaking | Footage | Front projection effect | Greenlight | Hollywood accounting | Movie ranch | Option | Pan and scan | Post-production | Pre-production | Previsualization | Principal photography | Screen test | Screenplay | Second unit | Shelved | Shot | Sound stage | Stand-in | Storyboard | Take | Test screening | Voice-over | Script breakdown

Movies, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.


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