There is nothing quite as special than stepping foot into your favorite film, whether its part of a studio tour in Burbank or a simple train station in central London. With hope, this article will allow you to swing into the role of a director in your own scene.
Portobello Road, Notting Hill
Portobello Road is a beautiful little street in west London, home to one of the best markets in the world, and well, filming locations for two very exciting films.
Who doesn’t love the little bear? A childhood favorite, parents and children alike will love Alice’s, or as it’s named for Paddington, Grubers. Alice’s is an antique shop with a cult following, I always make sure I pop in when I’m in this area! If you are familiar with the Paddington books, you can look at the illustrations which show off Portobello Road in a very dainty style.
Notting Hill (1999)
Now this is a film I can watch over and over again. Hugh Grant bumbling his way around an iconic Julia Roberts? Yes. If you are a fan of the film, you will remember the ‘Travel Book Shop Co’ Owned by Grant’s character ‘William’. It is still a book shop and you can actually go in and buy a travel book, perhaps leave out the whole “standing in front of a guy ” love speech though!
Kings Cross St Pancras
Kings cross is one of the busiest train stations into London. Mainly connecting the midlands and the northern parts of the country to the capital, I am in this station far too much and yes there are always potter fans walking round with a wand and a camera.
Harry potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001)
Although Kings Cross is used in many of the Potter films, I think the first film really captures that wonder of a stream train in the wall at Platform 9 3/4. Really the platform is a just a platform, if you really want to there’s a Harry Potter shop in the station with a fake photo scene, but ques are normally an hour long! Your best bet is waiting for them to open the barriers (usually around 7pm) and walk to the platform for that authentic photo.
A pretty special place on its own, borough market is a foodie heaven on the banks of the Thames and situated under architectural haven known as ‘The Shard’. But it is also home to Miss Bridget Jones. The Globe is the pub in the heart of the market where Bridget lives in a flat upstairs, but the market is featured more than the pub. In most of the three films, Bridget can be seen in the market, in Bridget Jones Baby however, she is pulling a Christmas tree back to the flat.
Bridget Jones’s Baby (2016)
Covent Garden, Rules
Covent Garden is a classic part of London. Home to many cafes and restaurants, including a Parisian favorite Ladurée, and of course, The Royal Opera House. Yet I know that many film buffs visiting London will want to see something to do with Bond, James Bond.
Rules was opened in 1788 and is noted as London’s oldest restaurants, so not only do you get to see where Ralph Fiennes sat and waited for 007, but you get to dine in a time capsule. Spectre is the 24th film in the James Bond franchise, and I personally loved it. Rules has also featured in the ITV drama, Downton Abbey.
Cambridge is very local to me, I’ve grown up being dragged around the museum (Now I love it, then not so much) going into all the quirky shops and parks and I’ve even been to a few events at the university. I’ve also this year been lucky to work in Cambridge on the ITV show Grantchester. It’s a historic city that I love showing off.
The Theory of Everything (2014)
This is a great film. Inspired by the incredible story of Professor Stephen Hawking, Eddie Redmayne shines in this role alongside Felicity Jones. As, Stephen Hawking’s lived in Cambridge most of his life, the city fills the screen. The scene I choose for this post is ‘winding back the clock’ filmed on location on the banks of the river cam next to the Bridge of Sighs.
Grantchester (2014 -)
Grantchester is the pride of Cambridge. A little village just outside of the city, but with all the charm, Grantchester village is a mere 30 minute walk into the centre, but retaining all the magic of the countryside. Series 5 will be coming out next year, and I am in it! A minor role but it was fun, for one scene, we filmed outside of Kings Collage in central Cambridge (Can you spot me in the photo!) but we also moved to the actual village and shot in the church and at other collages in the city.
THE PALACE OF VERSAILLES, PARIS, FRANCE:
Versailles was the palace belonging to the royal family of France until the revolution in 1789. It’s last resident was King Louis XVI and his Queen, Marie Antoinette. The Palace was stripped of its furniture and decor in the revolution, but it has since been restored and many of the furniture returned to the original states and rooms. Located an hour by train from central Paris it is really worth a visit aside from the filming locations.
Marie Antoinette (2006)
My sister and I adore this film. It leads up to the unrest in the palace and the eventual storming of the carriages leaving it with the family inside. Although you never see the arrest of the family, the unrest is there from the start. Marie Antoinette was filmed on location so the palace is featured in most of the scenes par the opera. If you find yourself there, take a look around the grounds as well! You will notice a lot of little scenes from the film.
NEW YORK, USA:
Grand Central Station, NY
Grand Central Station opened in 1913 in New York City. Home to trains moving across the east coast and beyond, it is featured in numerous films and televisions shows. This may not be the best example of cinematic amazement, but it is actually one of the main reasons film buffs head to this station XOXO GG.
Gossip Girl (2007 – 2012)
Adored and beloved by elite teens across the world and well, every teenager that subscribes to Netflix, Gossip Girl begins its journey at Grand Central where lonely boy first encounters Serena Van Der Woodsen. I am for a fact not as glamorous as Blake Lively, but I still stood there like a film buff and enjoyed it!
Rockerfeller Center, NY
The art deco beauty of the Rockerfeller Center is considered one of the main attractions of New York. Well adjusted into cinema, it has been featured in a huge amount of films! But I’ll stick to the fun seasonal Christmas films for this list as it *is* getting near to this time.
Home Alone: Lost in New York (1992)
Aside from the fact that this family let Kevin go missing TWICE, the second installment of Home Alone is fun and lighthearted (minus the Trump moment we skip). It is by no means a good film, but we have accepted that as a society and it continues to be played and enjoyed every year, and I even recreated that photo for you when I was there in December!
Okay, this is class. Elf is the love of my Christmas life. I can quote the film from start to finish and I know I’m not alone (I’m not am I?…) Will Ferrell is a comedic genius as Buddy the elf facing the bright lights of New York City. In an adorable scene alongside Zooey Deschanel, they stand in front of the 1939 building and take in the sights.
The Brooklyn Bridge, NY:
Okay, you know this is an impressive bridge I don’t have to tell you this. It is also long and very cold in January as we found out when walking across it! But all worth it for the amazing views across the city skyline and above. Very few films actually film on the bridge, and many that include the bridge are usually action films using it as a battleground in the films, so this film is a little fun family addition.
A Disney classic? No. But a film that is creative and fun? Yes. Enchanted is a little silly in parts but I remember watching it when I was 9 and loving it. As it’s filmed in New York, it was all I could think about while crossing the Brooklyn Bridge and singing *that* one song…
The Empire State Building, NY:
Aside from the Statue of Liberty, I would argue that this is a huge attraction to New York. It is a little pricey to go up it, but if you have the chance I would take it! From my New York guide you can read all about it there (https://screentoseen.com/2019/01/13/a-little-guide-to-new-york-city/) One film jumps to mind here though…
Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks plan to meet at the top of the Empire State Building for the first time after falling in love over the phone. When you think it’s not going to happen, at the last minute they come together in the form of a backpack left behind. A really happy scene that you can recreate! (If you can actually move once you get up there, we got lucky) Honorable mention is King Kong (1933).
Hook and Ladder Company 8 - Tribeca, NY
This historic building is home to much more than a brave fire department, it is the headquarters of the Ghostbusters. Opening in 1903, and serving New York City till today this firehouse has seen New York through some tough times, the team was one of the first units to the September 11 attacks in 2001.
There are spooky symbols to this firehouse all over the area connecting Tribeca to Soho. The 1984 film uses the exterior of the firehouse, while the interior was shot in an LA studio. In fact filming for Ghostbusters took place all over New York, but this location is a bit of a tourist hot spot, and well it is the headquarters isn’t it? Who you gonna call to bring with you? (sorry, I had to somewhere).
Bethesda Terrace, Central Park
Constructed in 1867, along side the fountain finished in 1873, this is a famous and respected part of Central Park for locals and tourists. They do say, its the backyard of the city and they are right, it is a beautiful place. It also happens to have hosted some superheros…
The Avengers (2012)
Thor brings Loki to the wrath of the Avengers in this scene from the 2012 movie. They have to deal with him, they are super hero’s, enough said. It’s bad ass and a good use of an iconic landmark.
LOS ANGELES, USA:
Warner Bros Studio, Hollywood
Warner Bros studio tour in Hollywood will not disappoint you. It is around $50 to get into, but heck was it worth it. There’s a lot to see so I’ll be quick!
Gilmore Girls/ Stars Hollow (ended 2007):
The backlot is used for a lot of films and program’s, but a lot of people will instantly recognise this setting of a Connecticut town. Here is the Gilmore house, and the famous gazebo!
Full/Fuller House (ongoing)
This lovable 1990s family series with two uncles and a dad parenting their way through the ups and downs that life throws at them is a US national favorite. Despite the annoying intro music that makes you hit skip fast than a sale at Selfridges, I watched this show over and over again and probably would again. what can I say? Uncle Jesse. While the intro was shot at a real house in San Francisco, the rest was shot on the Warner Brothers backlot.
La La Land (2016)
Yes this film is a beauty. I actually went to a lot of locations from this film, but this one is a paid location and its also one of my favourites. It has a certain charm about the building, like Emma Stone says in the scenes, they really did film Casablanca across the way from the ‘Cafe’ which has been almost everything in other productions.
Paramount Studios, Hollywood
Opening in 1912, Paramount Studios is the fifth oldest studios in the world. This studio tour costs around $45 to get in, there are of course upgrades, but the ‘economy’ tour was good enough for me! we saw loads and it felt very special. This was the first Hollywood tour we went on and I fell in love with cinema all over again.
Sunset Boulevard (1950)
This isn’t just a famous road in LA. It is a brilliant 1950 golden noir film. If you’ve heard the saying “I’m ready for my close up now” – Then you’ll be pleased to hear that it is from this iconic piece of cinema (thank me for the pub quiz answers later). The film uses a serious part of Paramount history; the Bronson gate aka what used to be the main entrance to the studio. As legend would have it, dreaming actors would touch the gate to get good luck on their way into the auditions.
Forrest Gump (1994)
I have never met anyone that doesn’t like this film (If this is you then make yourself known!) It is lovable, wholesome and sad. Now, if you have ever been to a Bubba Gump restaurant across the world and in America you will have seen the mock benches with the shoes that you can sit in, but have you sat on the real deal? Well we did! And it was not comfy in the slightest, the bench was made at an angle so Tom Hanks could sit upright during filming. Alas the bench resides at Paramount and you can sit in this rather iconic prop.
The Truman Show (1998)
I’ll confess. I’ve never fully seen the Truman Show… as a film graduate this is a problem that I will change asap. I do however know that the sea scene is very famous and for a reason! It is empowering where Truman finds the reality of his situation and the fake wall at the end of the studio. This studio was in fact an outside tank that is also a car park when not in use! Named B Tank, it is used in a huge amount of productions, but this is the most notable for fans.
The Griffith Observatory, LA
This was my favorite part of Los Angeles. It is magic at night and in day. Taking around an hour to hike up from Hollywood, it is not just an Observatory anymore it is a beautiful filming location!
La La Land (2016)
This was one of the biggest musicals ever in history. If you have seen it a million times you will know of the scene filmed in the observatory. It is frothy and frilly with its clouds and dainty music!
Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
Perhaps one of the most bad boys movies ever made this scene gets a little dark. It did however put the observatory on the map to people all over the world. A lot of it is recreated in La La Land like the famous scene of deans car driving up the the big doors, but in fact most of the observatory was used in this 1955 classic Hollywood convention.
The Anaheim Convention Centre, LA
I was at the centre for WonderCon with my University. It is a partner of Comic Con so naturally the new Amazon Prime original show Picard was doing a panel. When I saw the trailer I instantly knew they had filmed there! The show is not yet out but when it does you can see the new Star Fleet location!