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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Location shoot for The Black Dahlia, June 2005, on Hollywood Boulevard.

A filming location is a place where some or all of a film or television series is produced, in addition to or instead of using sets constructed on a movie studio backlot or soundstage. For example, the television series 24 is filmed primarily on location except for some scenes which are always filmed on the same sets.

On location is a term used to describe the filming on such a real site. The term is often mistakenly believed to mean that the production is being filmed on the actual location in which its story is set, but this is not necessarily the case.


Pros and cons

Between shoots for The Sorcerer's Apprentice at Bowling Green in New York City, lighting equipment was parked on Broadway

Location filming has several advantages over filming on a studio set:

  • It can be cheaper than constructing large sets
  • The illusion of reality can be stronger - it is hard to replicate real-world wear-and-tear, and architectural details
  • It sometimes allows the use of cheaper non-union labor or to bypass a work stoppage in the US. Canadian locations such as Vancouver and Toronto are known for this.
  • It sometimes allows "frozen" currency to be used. The 1968 movie Kelly's Heroes was filmed in Yugoslavia using profits that had been made on movie exhibitions in that country but couldn't be exported.

Its disadvantages include:

  • A lack of control over the environment - passing aircraft, traffic, pedestrians, bad weather, city regulations, etc.
  • Finding a real-world location which exactly matches the requirements of the script
  • Members of the audience may be familiar with a real-world location used to double as a fictional location (such as Rumble in the Bronx inexplicably showing the mountains outside Vancouver in the background of an urban Bronx-set scene)
  • Taking a whole film crew to film on location can be extremely expensive

Location filming can provide significant economic development benefit to an area, including local cast and crew and the use of facilities such as catering and accommodation.


The Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting in New York City helps keep cars from parking near shooting locations

Location filming usually requires a Location Manager, and locations are usually chosen by a Location Scout. Many popular locations, such as New York City in the United States, and the Isle of Man in the United Kingdom, have dedicated film offices to encourage location filming, and to suggest appropriate locations to film-makers.

In many cases a second unit is dispatched to film location scenes, with a second unit director and sometimes with stand-in actors. These locations shots can then be edited into the final film or TV program alongside studio-shot sequences, to give an authentic flavour, without the expense or trouble of a full-scale location shoot. NYPD Blue, for example, was filmed primarily in Los Angeles, but used second unit footage of New York City for colour, as well as featuring a small number of episodes filmed on location with the cast.

Substitute locations

It is common for films to be set in one place, but filmed in another, usually for reasons of economy or convenience, but sometimes because the substitute location looks more historically appropriate.

Some substitute filming locations, and the corresponding film setting, include:


See also

External links



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