Hampshire draws Hollywood blockbusters to English south coast
In the summer of 2014 Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye and Captain America descended on a large lake in a wooded part of rural north-east Hampshire to film Avengers: Age of Ultron. The Marvel production is one of the latest high-profile shoots to come to Hampshire.
Hawley Common on the Hampshire/Surrey border was turned into a winter wonderland and filled with fake snow. The Common is owned by the Ministry of Defence and includes the areas of Hawley Lake and Minley Bear Pit.
Avengers isn’t the first time Hollywood has visited Hawley. Other films shot there include Stardust, Die Another Day and Sahara. The crew also spent eight weeks filming at Stratfield Saye House in north Hampshire, home to the Duke of Wellington. The house is well known for its part in the films War Horse and Emma, starring Gwyneth Paltrow.
In 2014 there were 12 high-profile feature films shot in Hampshire, with a further six large-scale TV drama productions. Features included Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation and 24: Live Another Day, which shot in Southampton and the New Forest.
The BBC’s Wolf Hall and upcoming drama The Hollow Crown: Wars of the Roses filmed in Winchester. Downton Abbey and the BBC’s London Spy filmed in north Hampshire, while the period/horror genre mash-up Pride and Prejudice and Zombies shot in Basingstoke.
Hampshire appeals internationally as it’s located along the south coast of England and it benefits from some of the finest weather in the UK. Filmmakers are attracted to its diversity as a location and its film-friendliness. Its landscapes range from quintessentially English countryside and open coastline to modern cities and chocolate-box villages.
The county is as little as a 35-minute drive from London, depending on the point of interest, and it has its own airport, along with access to major London rail links. This makes it easy to get to for filmmakers travelling from London, Heathrow or Gatwick.
Each of Hampshire’s cities offer a different backdrop. Some of the county’s best known locations are in the medieval city of Winchester, which offers an historic Cathedral that’s appeared in the likes of Elizabeth: The Golden Age and The Da Vinci Code. Winchester’s Great Hall recently featured in the BBC’s 2015 drama Wolf Hall.
The maritime cities of Portsmouth and Southampton also boast a fine array of locations. Southampton’s docks were used in 2014’s 24: Live Another Day, whilst Portsmouth’s naval dockyard featured in James Bond films and Les Misérables.
Hampshire's landscapes range from quintessentially English countryside and open coastline to modern cities and chocolate-box villages.
Part of the county’s appeal is its unique countryside and coastline. As well as an array of thatched villages and bustling market towns, Hampshire has two national parks – the New Forest and the South Downs – which highlight just how contrasting Hampshire’s countryside can be. The New Forest offers flat, open heathland with wild ponies while the South Downs boasts rolling green hills with miles of pathway leading down to the cliffs of the Sussex coast.
In rural Hampshire you will find ornate country estates and gardens, some privately owned and others open to the public. The most famous is Highclere Castle, the backdrop for Downton Abbey. Others include Mottisfont, The Vyne, Somerley and Palace House at Beaulieu.
Although it does not have sandy beaches or dramatic cliff faces, Hampshire’s coastline is still popular with people wanting to shoot by the water. From Southsea’s majestic piers and Hayling Island’s colourful beach huts to the New Forest’s castles and pebbled beaches, there are an abundance of special places to choose from.
As well as the more traditional locations, Hampshire has plenty of quirky, unusual properties too. It has Grade I and II listed wind tunnels, an historic steam train, a Second World War-era submarine, Ministry of Defence sites, modern cruise ships, underground vaults and a disused prison, all of which are registered film locations.
There is plenty of support for filmmakers coming to the area. Film Hampshire is the county’s film office based at Hampshire County Council. They offer a free location finding service, filming advice and access to local film services. The team respond to a variety of queries on a daily basis and offers a database featuring 400 locations from across the county.
Hampshire also has a range of local film services and facilities. Black Hangar Studios are in rural east Hampshire, a 45-minute drive from London. These studios offer 32,000 square feet of floor space, a 5000 square foot water tank, a 737 plane with full interior, one of the largest green screens in the country, and a full suite of production facilities.
There are smaller studios available, along with a range of costume designers, prop companies, production companies and camera hire businesses. A comprehensive list can be found on Film Hampshire’s Film Services web page.
Anyone interested in finding out more about Hampshire’s film locations, or for general information about filming in the county, please contact us by clicking here.
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