Film locations that double for something else

May 23, 2024 | What we do

Film Location Doubles

Double Vision

Part of the responsibility of a good location agency is to respond to a production brief not just with exact examples of what they’ve asked for, but also variations that could be made to ‘double’ for the film location required.

We often get asked for hospitals, schools, prisons, courtrooms, police stations and other such institutions. By their very nature, the vast majority of these properties are needed to function around the clock, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. This does not leave much in the way of gaps for filming. With this in mind, whenever we assess a property, we always have a keen eye towards its potential as a ‘double’.

Almost every British drama that airs today features sequences in police stations or hospitals.

✅ Fresh Film Locations

The desire from directors to show ‘fresh’ film locations in each show means that often if something becomes too recognisable, it will cease to be of use to the industry. This is why we’re always looking for the following features in buildings that you may not think of as an ‘institution’:

✅ Vinyl / Laminate Flooring

Always useful for a clinical or medical setting. Flooring can be costly to change or time consuming to cover. If an office/school/warehouse/industrial property has an area with this type of flooring, it can be quite easy to dress the remainder as a hospital ward or a lab.

✅ Brutalism

Due to the mid-20th century expansion of the police force in the UK, many real police stations were built in the once derided (now critically lauded) brutalist concrete architectural style. As these stations are either still in use or long demolished, alternatives are sought after for film locations. Shopping centres, office buildings, residential developments and telephone exchanges have all portrayed police stations on screen in recent years.

✅Long & Wide Corridors

Directors love to film in these liminal spaces, as they can be a conduit for dramatic tension and depth on the screen. They also look great on camera, and are useful for walk and talk scenes. Bonus points for very historic or very modern décor, as productions often love a dramatic statement to tell the story in the background of the action. Wide corridors are often sought after to make use of as hospital sets and are surprisingly hard to find!

We love chatting about film locations that double for something else. Please get in touch and we can start the search for your next film location.