London Underground still a popular filming location on 150th anniversary
London’s Underground train network remains a popular filming location in the year of its 150th anniversary. A dedicated Film Office liaises between Location Managers and specific stations, and the network hosts around a dozen features every 12 months, plus numerous smaller projects.
Stations with spare platforms, such as Aldwych (above) and Charing Cross, are more popular as filming locations. The former closed as an active station in 1994 and has an historic look that appeals to producers. Charing Cross has spare platforms from its original Jubilee line connection, offering a more modern look that’s convenient to film and appealed to the Skyfall production team in 2012.
“We usually need about two weeks’ notice to process a filming permit,” says Shirley Cody, a manager at the London Underground Film Office: “Canary Wharf doesn’t have any unused platforms – unlike Aldwych and Charing Cross – but also appeals to producers because of the iconic architecture."
Canary Wharf doesn’t have any unused platforms – unlike Aldwych and Charing Cross – but also appeals to producers because of the iconic architecture.
Shirley Cody, London Underground Film Office
Cody adds: “We only allow handheld, battery-operated equipment down into the actual stations. Usually the crews carry it down, but places like Charing Cross (below) have the option of taking it in by train from Stanmore.”
Permitting costs start at GBP500 an hour for professional shoots, although prices go up for productions like Skyfall. Speaking to TLG at the time of the film’s release, Supervising Location Manager James Grant said that they needed “deep pockets” to film on the Underground to the extent demanded in Skyfall's script.
Over the decades the Underground has captured filmmakers’ imaginations for stories spanning the spectrum of genres through horror, action, romance and science-fiction. Its long-term appeal as an iconic part of London is likely to endure.
To find out about Skyfall filming in London click here.
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