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View Full Version : Faking Foreign Locations on TV and Film


inflatable dalek
2014-01-19, 01:46 AM
As part of my pre-impulse buy of the complete original series on DVD I wound up watching the first episode of the 1980's Mission: Impossible on youtube for no readily apparent reason. It was pure cheese but quite fun and had Q offa Star Trek as the killer, in the imaginatively titled episode, The Killer.

And considering the part wasn't nearly as well written as even the worst Q appearance (it was mainly just about glancing sinerstly) DeLancie got to show off his screen presence by completely stealing the entire show with exactly the right amount of ham and making every look and every poorly written generic hitman line count.

But what was especially fun about this episode, was it being an American made series, filmed in Australia but set in London. That should have been a comical recipe for disaster, but once you cut the episode some slack for not cutting down every palm tree in the part of Oz they filmed in down (and yes, we do often have nice sunny weather here so that isn't a failure of realisation) just for this 45 minutes it actually did pretty OK, almost 95% of the way there.

The two big flaws however, were some street signs that were so Austrailian they might as well as had "Ramsey Street" written on them (which was especially odd as the signs- with authentic British street names on them- were clearly made especially for the show and even fake in the fiction as tricking Q into thinking he was somewhere he wasn't was all part of the scam) and that every other background extra was carrying a big "John Steed" umbrella even if they were wearing a backwards baseball cap and denim jacket.

Countered to that though, DeLancie may well be the first-Only?- person in an American TV program to go to a public phone in London (in this case outside "Heathrow") that wasn't a stock red box, and even looked to have been mocked up with the right BT logo for the time. And the stock footage of Actual London was actually sensibly edited into the show so that when a bus pulled out of Picadilly to the left it would go into the Australian footage from the left so as to make it look like the whole thing was filmed in one go.

Even if it had to go past a palm tree and it was suddenly much sunnier.

So it got me thinking, what are your favourite examples of a film or TV show trying to convince you it's set abroad but failing?

Some of mine:

The Mummy Returns opens with a scene that shows Big Ben, London Bridge and St. Pauls's all lined up in a way they never would be in reality with the caption "LONDON: ENGLAND" over it just in case you didn't realise, all it's missing is the first few bars of Rule Britannia (especially bad for a film that, IIRC, did do studio work in the UK).

Doctor Who: The Chase: Has the Empire State Building surrounded by buildings that are taller than it (in 1965), Columbo as a paid tour guide and Morton Dill as mutually assured destruction for Dick van Dyke ("Yhallll boyss onha some kindha chase?").

Speaking of Columbo... you can tell which bits of the episode set in the UK were filmed over here because in the American recorded scenes they still drive on the right.

Buffy and Angle: Anything set in Europe would be shot on exactly the same medieval backlot regardless of time period.

Someone on another forum a while ago posted a great screengrab from a Canadian made TV movie about Dire Straits (?!?!?!) which had the wonderful image of a UK motorway sign pointing to Sheffield being erected in the middle of a desert.

Notabot
2014-01-19, 04:06 AM
I do enjoy Dark of the Moon's interstate chase outside of "Washington DC" where the Interstate signs are clearly from the Chicago area. And how they put the Milwaukee Art Museum in DC as well. (Or was that supposed to be in Chicago? Haven't watched it for a while.) That one's forgivable, though, since it's just a cool looking building and not a lot of people would know or care that it's from Milwaukee.

In one of the Batman movies, doesn't he jump off the Sears (Willis, now) tower in either New York or Singapore?

inflatable dalek
2014-01-19, 04:18 AM
Oh, the second Bay film has a desert right outside the Smithsonian in Washington, which even in a franchise (and especially that film) which tends to skewer real world geography is completely suspension of disbelief breaking.

Knightdramon
2014-01-19, 12:15 PM
Faking anything foreign in tv/films is almost always ridiculous.

The Wire, Season 2 had some Greek mob bosses running around, speaking in Greek occasionally. Their dialogue [not to mention pronunciation] was as if somebody wrote the script in English, then translated it without even checking if such phrases exist.

Taken 2, which is actually a love fest of Liam Neeson killing Albanian thugs for one and a half hour in Turkey?

ROTF and its geography.

Batman [nearly any film] and Gotham City.

And the ever lasting cliche of 80% of the films, maybe even 110% of films back in the 80ies...

The bad guy/guys are foreign. As in, non-American. Either from Asia or from Germany. And they must always have a weird accent and not speak English properly. :lol:

Cyberstrike nTo
2014-01-19, 02:26 PM
I remember the movie Heavy Rain (I think that was the name of the movie) with Morgan Freeman and Christain Slater that took place in a small mountain town in Indiana. IIRC the opening with a mountain simlar to the Paramount logo (simlar to the Indiana Jones films), you know I have in Indiana my whole life and I'm pretty sure that there are no mountains or mountain towins in Indiana. We have some tall hills and small hill towns.

another tf fan
2014-01-19, 05:43 PM
I live in the Seattle area and Hollywood usually films Vancouver, shows a stock shot of the Space Needle and calls it Seattle.

The atmosphere and weather are very similar but the cities look quite different.

Clay
2014-01-19, 09:46 PM
The Simpsons have made this a running gag, I think. Just outside of Springfield there are deserts, forests, mountains, swamps, etc.

I also remember reading that most films botch the geography of Washington DC. Key point is that it doesn't have any skyscrapers. The Washington monument is the tallest structure in the area.

Notabot
2014-01-19, 11:53 PM
It's not foreign, but when I lived in Minneapolis, it was fun to watch Untamed Heart and yell when Christian Slater walked the wrong direction to get somewhere. I actually lived in the apartment complex that he supposedly did. People knock the movie because he lived in a basement apartment yet had a leaky roof. This, however, was quite possible in those apartments. :)

inflatable dalek
2014-02-23, 02:43 AM
So, I was round a friends house tonight, and whilst partaking of the drinking of the beers, we happened to switch onto a channel that was showing Groundhog Day, during one of the scenes Murry is having his breakdown (one of them) whilst covering the ceremony (this was about ten minutes before he let the Groundhog drive the car), and it suddenly dawned on me the building behind Murry was the clock tower from Back to the Future. Meaning that entire town square was faked!

It was actually interesting to watch with that revelation in mind, because it really became very clear the entire town square sequence/s really was/were both shot on the recognisable square, but at the same time every shot was framed as carefully as possible to avoid that the most famous building as much as possible.

It made you realise how much Universal must have been ****ed off in retrospect that this one big successful film made such a fuss of that one, major building on their backlot, creating problems for subsequent productions using it that wanted to avoid jolting people out of their film by presenting the Clock Tower.

[The Wikipedia page for Groundhog Day only mentions filming in Illinois, but if they really didn't use the Universal backlot for the town square scenes that means there's a town in Illnois that looks exactly like Hill Valley...]

angloconvoy
2014-02-23, 01:50 PM
I also remember reading that most films botch the geography of Washington DC. Key point is that it doesn't have any skyscrapers. The Washington monument is the tallest structure in the area.

I'd call that more artistic license than botched though. The name Washington DC is shorthand for "a very powerful and important city" worldwide. Problem is, the real landscape is more what you might call "quaint" for the most part. Mix in a few skyscrapers and there you have it. "An important and powerful city".

I'll also give Batman a pass, since the existence of Metropolis and Gotham means that their world's geography doesn't need to be the same as ours.

Notabot
2014-02-24, 12:47 AM
So in Dark Knight Rises, where exactly was that prison pit supposed to be located? It seemed to be within walking distance of Gotham at times, but on the other side of the world at others. I haven't rewatched for a while, so I might be missing something, so feel free to correct me with extreme prejudice.

angloconvoy
2014-02-24, 09:00 AM
Other side of the world, as I recall. He just Batmanned back in no time once his back was magically healed, even though we were specifically told at the start of the film that he had no cartliage left in his knees. Do you know how fast someone with no cartilage walks? They don't. It was a stupid movie that you should watch once, go, ooh, explodey, and then never give any further thought. None of it makes the tiniest bit of sense.

Warcry
2014-02-24, 04:49 PM
No, don't be silly, he had a magical knee brace that somehow made it 100% all better! :glance:

So in Dark Knight Rises, where exactly was that prison pit supposed to be located?
It's in a generic comic book Latin American country. Except for when characters need to travel to/from Gotham instantaneously.

Is my scorn for this film obvious enough? :)

inflatable dalek
2014-02-24, 05:01 PM
Lets not forget this is the same Bruce Wayne who in Batman Begins was able to get from Gotham to the far east without a passport and only the clothes on his back by stowing away on boats, and that was before he had advanced ninja training from Liam Nesson. Doing the same in reverse after years of dedicated sneak training isn't a stretch at all.

Getting back into Gotham itself after its been sealed off is more of a problem, but not an insurmountable one for a man who can out swim a nuclear explosion... (I wonder if he's related to the guy in The Wolverine who can stare at Hiroshima as it gets him without being instantly blinded. Actually, there's a film with a dodgy message of "Never help anyone", if Logan had just let that bloke die all his troubles for the rest of the movie would have been averted...).

The thing with DKR is it's aiming to be all about the strength and importance of the human spirit and places that above real world practicalities, so Bruce fixes his back through strength of will and beats Bane despite using exactly the same "Punch him in the face" tactics that so badly failed him first time round because now he believes he can win. It works for me, but I can more than see why it's a love or hate it film, whether it works or not depends on whether the films convinces you enough about the metaphor.

Warcry
2014-02-24, 06:02 PM
I'd argue the flaws are a fair bit more fundamental than that. None of the characters are even remotely likeable. Catwoman probably comes the closest, but the movie forgets about her entirely for an hour in the middle. Batman and Gordon spend most of the movie pouting. Blake is a self-righteous asshole. Bane winds up basically not having a personality at all, since Talia steals his backstory and we're given basically nothing to replace it. Talia herself randomly becomes evil five minutes before she dies, with zero foreshadowing (no, expecting it because you knew the character was in the movie from media reports doesn't count) and none of the depth of her comic counterpart. And Lucius and Alfred were barely in it.

Compare that to The Dark Knight. Batman, Gordon and Harvey Dent were all likeable heroes in their own way, folks that you wanted to root for. The Joker was horribly evil but still made you laugh along with the awful things he did, then immediately feel bad for it. The various gangsters were such douchebags that you enjoyed watching them get taken down, whether it be by Joker, Two-Face or Batman. Alfred and Lucius were both powerfully-acted father figures. It probably has just as many plot holes as TDKR, but people want to like it so nobody talks about them.

Unfortunately, when you compare it to the first and third movies in Nolan's Batman trilogy it becomes painfully clear that The Dark Knight was so good in spite of the people making it, not because of them. They did their level best to excise anything fun or even slightly not-serious from the Batman mythos.

Kungfu Dinobot
2014-03-05, 12:06 PM
I'd argue the flaws are a fair bit more fundamental than that. None of the characters are even remotely likeable. Catwoman probably comes the closest, but the movie forgets about her entirely for an hour in the middle. Batman and Gordon spend most of the movie pouting. Blake is a self-righteous asshole. Bane winds up basically not having a personality at all, since Talia steals his backstory and we're given basically nothing to replace it. Talia herself randomly becomes evil five minutes before she dies, with zero foreshadowing (no, expecting it because you knew the character was in the movie from media reports doesn't count) and none of the depth of her comic counterpart. And Lucius and Alfred were barely in it.

Compare that to The Dark Knight. Batman, Gordon and Harvey Dent were all likeable heroes in their own way, folks that you wanted to root for. The Joker was horribly evil but still made you laugh along with the awful things he did, then immediately feel bad for it. The various gangsters were such douchebags that you enjoyed watching them get taken down, whether it be by Joker, Two-Face or Batman. Alfred and Lucius were both powerfully-acted father figures. It probably has just as many plot holes as TDKR, but people want to like it so nobody talks about them.

Unfortunately, when you compare it to the first and third movies in Nolan's Batman trilogy it becomes painfully clear that The Dark Knight was so good in spite of the people making it, not because of them. They did their level best to excise anything fun or even slightly not-serious from the Batman mythos.

Dude, that's like, the most damning description of the Nolanverse. I like Gordon though, but I always liked old fogeys.


You deserve a gold star for having balls to speak your mind:up:

Blackjack
2014-03-08, 01:52 PM
Dude, that's like, the most damning description of the Nolanverse. I like Gordon though, but I always liked old fogeys.


You deserve a gold star for having balls to speak your mind:up:

Does openly admitting that the non-TDK Nolan movies suck mean 'having balls'? I don't hate the third movie to the extent that Warcry did -- it was certainly worse than the Dark Knight, and I absolutely loathed 'Robin' Blake because of how anal the creators are at trying to make a so-called twist yet instead makes a Mary Sue of a character. And TDKR had a really terrible and badly-handled middle part in between Bane taking over Gotham and Batman's return. Batman-recovering-in-the-pit has to be one of the worst sequences ever.

But overall I kinda enjoyed TDKR, even though it felt a lot cathartic. Bane was... okay, I guess? He felt Bane all right for a good portion of the movie, but like Warcry I hated the sudden twist that Talia ate all of Bane's backstory, and he was totally taken out like a bitch.

Catwoman was nicely done but as Warcry said, she was barely in the movie.

What was not unacceptable was the exorcising of the venom steroid thing and the mucha libre mask. What, what's basically a simple steroid drug is 'unrealistic', but having a flying cuttlefish batplane is? Or some water-vaporizing machine from the first movie? And they replaced the wrestler mask for a shitty Darth Vader knockoff that made Bane turn from an awesome-looking thing that made him sound unintelligible? It grates, it really really grates how Nolan and his cronies have such a good handle on Bane (and Dick Grayson/Tim Drake via Blake) but decide to cock everything up by injecting their own brand of arrogant 'creativity' and 'realism'.

Batman Begins? I watched Begins at a far younger age and I thought it really sucked. I was extremely pleased that Scarecrow showed up, being my favourite villain from the cartoon and comics, but Batman Begins is a terrible, terrible movie. For all the bullshit about bringing realism to the movie, it had that race across the completely-impractical train railway thing arguing over some sci-fi machinery. And don't even mention that blasphemous Liam Neeson Ra's Al Ghul to me.

The Dark Knight will always be the best superhero movie. Just as how the first Transformers movie will always be the best giant robot movie. But being in the same series with an excellent movie does not give you immediate right to being awesome. Revenge of the Fallen, for example, despite me defending it all the time, is a terrible mess of a movie. But so is Batman Begins. Dark of the Moon is an overlong CGI-fest with totally non-shocking twists (oh my god the hero gets back to fight the bad guys whodda thought it) and a very basic 'oh bad guys lay siege to a city', but guess who else follows the exact same premise? The Dark Knight Rises. Except TDKR is far more anal and feature far less jokes and explosions and pisses right over my expectations for the Batman mythology and has creators who are all high-and-mighty and go 'yes yes this movie so artistic sucks to be anyone who expects us to adhere to comic stupidity, you must confirm to our creativity' whereas Michael Bay is happy to acknowledge 'this movie has robots and boobs and kaboom', making TDKR a lot more unlikable than DOTM.

Tetsuro
2014-03-12, 06:42 AM
Full Metal Jacket - during the long shot of the recruits jogging through the camp, the road they are using is printed full of British road markings.

You know, I've heard that back during the Cold War, Helsinki often doubled in for Moscow for movies, but I've never even heard of one specific movie that has done that, and I'd like to find out and see for myself.

inflatable dalek
2014-03-17, 09:01 PM
Presumably the dropped the venom thing not because they thought it was silly (this is after all, a film that basically ends with "Some days you just can't get rid of a bomb!"), but because it wouldn't fit in with the whole strength of spirit thing if he was better than Batman in a fight through drugs.

I do think they did stay true to the esentials of the character though, the Batman villain who combines brains and brawn rather than just one or the other as most of them do. I think it helps that Tom Hardy is one of those actors people just generally like no matter what he does, there's enough innate charisma there that a potentially ruinous decision like the comedy voice wind up actually working.

Indeed, in a film that basically remakes The World is not Enough, Bane works much much better than his counterpart Renard does in that film.

[Sorry to have ruined the end of TWINE for those who haven't seen it...]

Oddly, it was only whilst replying to something Denyer said on Facebook that I remembered that I've actually met Tom Hardy. He was sat next to Marina Sirtis at a point in time where she was the more famous one and it looked like Star Trek: Nemesis had ruined his career. Lucky he'd cornered the market in bald men who'd been raised in underground prisons.

inflatable dalek
2014-05-06, 09:23 AM
A ncro bump and a double post to say I caught the end of season one of Elementary with my mother this week (a show I only watch intermittently but is usually much more fun than Sherlock thanks to not having Tim From the Office doing that gurning thing he thinks passes for acting in it), where in the flashbacks to Sherlock's past relationship with Addler it gallantly tries to convince you New York streets are actually in London. It's sweet as it's trying so, so hard with the cars and the signage but is completely undone by the almost total lack of resemblance to any street in the UK.


[On a random note, this show also handled Moriarty in a much more interesting way than the Beeb version did, where he was just a badly acted Heath Ledger Joker wannabe]