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Photograph: Kim Fenton
Photograph: Kim Fenton

A location scout shares his favourite London filming locations

Something to aim for on your next lockdown walk

By
Phil de Semlyen
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Location scouts see London in a way that no-one else does. That grim alleyway up the road from you? That could be a perfect spot for an atmospheric deep and meaningful. Your corner shop? The ideal place for a meet cute. So, as we all start to exhaust the obvious nice things within walking distance from our homes – tourist attractions, parks, cafés, Tesco Express – we thought it was the ideal time to ask a pro scout for places they've loved shooting in, which could double as landmarks for Londoners to aim for on their daily exercise ambles.

The location scout in question? Kim Fenton, whose credits include ‘Rocks’ and Pablo Larraín’s new film, ‘Spencer’. He works with location management agency Salt.

1. De Beauvoir Estate (pictured above)

I have very warm memories of filming “Rocks here in the long hot summer of 2018. The location was really at the heart of the film. Unlike the much-filmed brutalism of Balfron Tower in Poplar and the Alexandra estate in Camden, De Beauvoir estate has ’70s lines. Whichever way you pointed the camera in the summer light, it just looked gorgeous. Even the concrete stairwells, ramps, rooftops, balconies and peeling paint looked great. Great people as well – a community castle. It was also used for Idris Elba’s “Yardie. You can walk along the canal to the gasworks at Broadway Market off St Andrew’s Road, where “On Chesil Beach and “Luther were filmed. Plus, close by is the beautiful Ridley Road Market used in “Top Boy, “Rocks and many more.’

Photograph: Lottie Turner
Photograph: Lottie Turner

2. Millennium Mills, Silvertown

This derelict mill site has been much loved by filmmakers for years. Writing on Derek Jarman, Iain Sinclair describes it as “Christened by William Blake and delivered by Albert Speer… a site for dervishes and the rituals of punk apocalypse. Naturally, it was used by “Paddington 2. You can see it in “Spider-Man: Far From Home, Derek Jarman’s “The Last of England, as well as “Ashes to Ashes” and the video for Arctic Monkeys’ “Fluorescent Adolescent – and many more.’ Ten minutes away is Beckton Gas Works, where Stanley Kubrick recreated Vietnam for “Full Metal Jacket, palm trees and all.’

Photograph: Kim Fenton
Photograph: Kim Fenton

3. Inner Temple and Middle Temple

For me, this part of central London is a haven of peace and a magical glimpse into the city’s past. The 12th century Temple church was once HQ to the mysterious Knights Templars and featured in “The Da Vinci Code. The adjacent cloisters were the setting for the climax of “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. Fountain Court and Middle Temple Lane, a favourite spot for Charles Dickens to reflect and write, were used for “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, “The Good Shepherd, “Shakespeare in Love, as well as “Poirot and “Cambridge Spies on the small screen. And if you take a short stroll up to Fleet Street, you’ll find the café that gets blown up at the start of Alfonso Cuarón’s “Children of Men.’

Photograph: Kim Fenton
Photograph: Kim Fenton

4. Hammersmith Bridge, Upper Mall

Albert Bridge is an icon of 60s and ’70s British cinema, but Hammersmith Bridge has been beloved of cinematographers for decades. In the ’50s, it was “The Man Who Never Was; in the ‘60s, it was Polanski’s Repulsion”; in the ’70s, the TV series “The Sweeney” (John Thaw lived close by and often filmed in the pubs he used to drink in, like The Dove); “Sliding Doors” was filmed there in in the ’90s. Ralph Fiennes and Daniel Craig will (hopefully) begin there in the new Bond Film “No Time to Die”.’

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