We connected with leading London based Video Production specialist Luke Cairns of Hightower Video about the rich variety of filming locations that are used regularly in London based video and film productions. Luke had this to say:
London has been a hub for film production since the advent of cinema. It seem pretty much every angle has been exploited over the last 100 years and more of cinema. Thanks to London’s famous sites, it’s film friendly attitude, tax breaks and its proximity to the incredibly busy film studios of greater London including Pinewood, Shepperton and Leavesden.
This fame only seems to ramp up, with particularly the London Olympics meaning it’s almost inevitable to see London in any large feature film going.
Here are some examples.
28 Days Later (2002)
In the film: Cillian Murphy’s rage-plague survivor Jim strolls through chillingly deserted London streets at dawn after waking in an empty hospital.
The reality: Jim walks through the heart of London’s political patch, strolling over Westminster Bridge and up Whitehall. The filming took place in the summer starting at 4am which accounts for the fact the scene was completely deserted. This scene would have been a NIGHTMARE for the crew of assistant directors having to make sure this part of central London was empty of early birds and clubbers wanting to go home.
Children Of Men (2006)
In the film: A grand but heavily guarded checkpoint passed by Clive Owen’s bewildered Theo as he’s driven through dystopian future london to the Ministry Of Arts.
The reality: It’s Admiralty Arch, the imposing office building completed in 1912 and situated close to Trafalgar Square. Admiralty Arch is currently being converted into luxury flats.
In the film: Nicolas Roeg’s psyche-shifting art-rock drama kicks into gear when Edward Fox’s sneery gangster takes a room in Mick Jagger’s bohemian shack to hide from some unwanted attention.
The reality: The then-run-down row is actually the now-very-desirable Powis Square in Notting Hill, full of gleaming white town houses and a renovated park.
Sleepy Hollow (1999)
In the film: With the scary headless fuss of Sleepy Hollow behind them, Ichabod Crane and his new beau Katrina arrive in their new home of New York to begin their lives together.
The reality: It’s actually not New York at all, but Somerset House in The Strand. A favourite movie location, the courtyard inside the building’s walls also doubled as St Petersburg in Goldeneye. It has also featured in further Bond films Tomorrow Never Dies and Skyfall.
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
The reality: Vicious gang-leader Alex is imprisoned after a spree of crimes, with a looming aerial shot showing us the intricate star-shaped building in which he’s to be detained.
The reality: And the building is a prison in real life too – Wandsworth prison, the largest in Britain.
Bridget Jones’ Diary (2001)
In the film: Our romantic spongecake of a heroine Bridget goes on a smoochy date with bastard boss Daniel Cleaver.
The reality: The secluded and gentrified-industrial spot in which the pair lock lips is actually Shad Thames near Tower Bridge.
Mission: Impossible (1996)
In the film: On the run IMF agent Ethan Hunt walks through the rain to make a phone call at a clean, brightly light London train station.
The reality: It’s Liverpool Street station in Bishopsgate. Before it was renovated the station was also used in David Lynch’s The Elephant Man, for the scene in which John Merrick arrives in London.
In the film: On-the-run Jon Finch and his trusting beau Anna Massey are spotted meeting in the park from a hotel balcony in Hitchcock’s underrated murder mystery.
The reality: The distinctive tower block hotel is the Hilton Park Lane, one of two Hiltons to appear in the film (the other being the Hyde Park, although it was called The Coburg at the time).
The Dark Knight (2008)
In the film: The Joker is brought for interrogation at the Gotham City Police Headquarters.
The reality: The restaurant is actually the Farmiloe Building in Farringdon, a studio space which has also been used frequently in films like Eastern Promise.
A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
In the film: Some low-key outfit called The Beatles dream up a reason to leave Liverpool and head to the capital for hijinks.
The reality: The Liverpudlian train station the foursome are shown entering is in fact Marylebone station in West London – the same station they’re shown emerging from once they’ve reached their destination.
My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)
In the film: The titular laundrette – the redecorated, neon sign-boasting Powders, run by Omar and his alcoholic father.
The reality: Powders was located in a strip of shops in Wandsworth – you can still see the high-rise estates behind – and is now a shop called Tastes Of Portugal.
The Long Good Friday (1980)
In the film: Bob Hoskins’ big-time mobster Harold Shand is outplayed by his Irish enemies as he makes a celebratory visit to a top London hotel in this classic British gangster movie.
The reality: The hotel is the Savoy in the Strand. The famous metal frontage appears in the film itself, but it’s worth a wander around the corner to see the Savoy theatre, which the hotel was built to service using profits from Gilbert and Sullivan musicals.
An American Werewolf In London (1981)
In the film: Luckless American tourist David succumbs to his lunar lycanthropy and goes on a flesh-tearing bender, wreaking havoc across London and causing at crash at Piccadilly Circus.
The reality: John Landis’ horror classic was the first film to shoot in Piccadilly Circus since Michael Winner spoiled it for everybody in 1967 by setting off a smoke bomb and running away during the production of The Jokers.
Mona Lisa (1986)
In the film: Scuzzy nobody George drives high-class working girl Simone to expensive hotels and addresses all over London, but none more glamorous – or dangerous – than this brickwork mansion.
The reality: The distinctive house is actually a private residence on Maze Hill in Greenwich, and probably never plays host to top-dollar prostitutes at all.
The Imaginarium Of Dr Parnassus (2009)
In the film: The creakily piled bus-come-travelling-stage of Dr Parnassus and his outlandish troupe sneaks through London’s streets and sets up in its shadows. Here it sets up in on one the biggest shadows of all – that cast by Tower Bridge.
The reality: And here’s the real location, smuggled under the bridge in a corner of St Katherine’s Way. The film also finds Heath Ledger’s Tony hanging from Blackfriars Bridge – famously, the place where Roberto Calvi was also found hanged.
In the film: Mark Renton makes a clean break from his skag-addled life in Edinburgh to sell real estate in glamorous London – including this cosmopolitan charmer, where he would later hide his hopeless friends.
The reality: The flat is located on a busy intersection of Talgarth Road in West Kensington, just opposite the tube station. It’s as horrible as Renton suggests.
The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
In the film: Paddy Considine’s refreshingly terrified Guardian hack leaves his central London office to meet up with rogue agent Jason Bourne.
The reality: Although they look a little like The Guardian’s newish fancy King’s Place HQ, the building here is actually the Thomson Reuters offices in Hatton Garden.
V For Vendetta (2006)
In the film: Juiced up by the promise of fireworks and the fact the government are a bunch of rotters, anonymous ranks of V-supporting dissidents storm parliament wearing black robes and white masks.
The reality: The mob emerges from Trafalgar Square, before making its way down Whitehall and to Westminster. Geographically sound, although it would probably have taken them a little longer in real life.