London: it’s one of the biggest and best cities in the world, so it’s unsurprisingly chock-full of great video shoot locations. If you’ve ever seen one of those terrible American comedy films, where a bunch of tourists obnoxiously try to wind up those poor guards at Buckingham Palace, or one of the umpteen spy films that use Big Ben or Whitehall as a backdrop for a car chase, explosion, or exploding car chase, then you’ll know what we’re talking about.
Of course, if you’re making a corporate film, you’re probably not going to be able to film at The Tower of London. But the city has many other great video shooting locations that might not be immediately obvious. Here are just a few.
Alexandra Road Estate
A distinctive Brutalist masterpiece, the Alexandra Road Estate is an area of social housing based in South Hampstead – and one that’s appeared in a number of film and TV productions, including A Clockwork Orange, Kingsman: The Secret Service, Prime Suspect, and more.
What’s unique about this location is its versatility: the grey backdrop is ideal for simple, austere shoots, but it also provides a useful contrast to more vibrant characters, actors and props. Just look at the video for Kirsty MacColl’s “A New England”.
London Bridge and Tower Bridge have been used in movies and videos galore. Waterloo Bridge’s strength as a filming location lies in it being one of London’s less obvious bridges. Located at a bend in the River Thames, it offers stunning views of many key city landmarks, such as the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament, as well as districts such as Canary Wharf and the South Bank.
And, if you’re using a small film crew with a handheld camera, it might not even cost you anything to film there – so long as you get permission first.
Camden Town Market
If you want to capture the hustle and bustle of London life – Camden Town Market is a great place to start. As London landmarks go, it has a distinctive, eccentric appeal, combining rich history with cutting-edge modernity. Regent’s Canal remains one of the better-looking parts of the city’s famously, um, brown waterways.
Anywhere on London’s streets
Of course, if you’re looking to capture the hustle and bustle of city life, you can do so on the streets, provided you’ve got a small enough film crew, and you use a handheld camera (busy pedestrians tend to have an adversarial relationship with tripods). While it won’t necessarily capture the unique character of the city, filming on a busy street does provide an easy visual shorthand for metropolitan life.
Malcolm Ryan Studios
Malcolm Ryan Studios is a small, South London-based family operation that provides four studios – including a permanent, pre-lit green studio. It has makeup rooms, wardrobe rooms, full crew parking, and an onsite lighting store, and they’ve filmed all sorts of different productions. We recommend Malcolm Ryan Studios highly.
Finally, if you’re looking for something a little different, there’s a drone flying area in Richmond Park. Richmond Park is a national nature reserve, a deer park, and the setting for several major feature films. As a video shoot location, the drone flying area provides a bird’s-eye view of one of London’s (increasingly few) major green spaces.