Production/Post-Production: Faking it

Budget won't stretch to a week on location in the Far East or the US? Pippa Considine looks at the UK's best 'cheating' locations. DOCKLANDS - TOKYO

Think Tokyo street. Think Docklands car park. Well, maybe not immediately. But to get a central bit of the Japanese capital closed off for a few hours can't be easy - compared with diverting cars from one car park to another in East London. That was the idea when RSA shot an Orange ad starring the footballer Zinedine Zidane jumping on top of cars in a crowded street, meant to be in Tokyo. Zidane was shot in a studio in Southern Europe, then comp'd into the "Japanese" street scene, in the "street" located by Salt Film. Admittedly, a bit of dressing went on. Six lanes or so of cars were added, plus a bit of Japanese street furniture - with lanterns - and an oriental cast.


Shooting in Russia might not appeal to everyone. The climate can be a bit dodgy and then there's the odd problem with visas and hiring the right kit. So, it's perhaps unsurprising that a snow-covered pumping station in Shepperton has passed for a bleak-looking Russian building. Or that the Royal Horticultural Halls in London's SW1 (a huge 30s building) should have starred as a Russian airport in Levi's "Russia" ad. The hall was joined with another Russian scene for the same ad, which was also shot in London, this time in a snow-dressed part of Docklands.


One of the nation's favourite commercials of recent times isn't quite what it seems. "Bear", the much-loved John West ad for red salmon, which narrowly missed out on the film Grand Prix at Cannes, is not shot in the wilds of Canada where the fish live, as we're led to believe. The bear, seen above performing his famous round-house kick, isn't the only spoof. The ad, directed by Danny Kleinman through Spectre, was actually shot in bonny Scotland on the River Dee in Aberdeenshire. Instead of hiking across the Atlantic, the production team had to make do with a bit of rugged Scottish landscape standing in for a bit of rugged Canadian landscape.


This is a favourite. During the Cold War, the Brits built model villages on Salisbury Plain for military manoeuvres. They look spookily like villages in Eastern Europe, full of Germanic streets of houses with characteristic red roofs. Army exercises over the decades have left their mark, so there are handy burned-out rooms and ruined buildings that can lend a war-zone atmosphere. And there's the added advantage that they aren't anywhere that could cause controversy. Particularly handy for COI Communications, which has used it to shoot ads for the Army.


One bit of part-flooded coastal scene can look much like another. Take Exbury in the New Forest and Vietnam. Or is it Bangladesh? Or Mogadishu? At any rate, the production company Another decided that it was the right backdrop for an exotic refugee rescue scene for last year's Royal Navy recruit ad. "It's really marshy, right on the coast and there's lush green grass," Eugene Strange, the location manager from Salt, says. Once a smashed-up bridge, some overturned carts and a large helicopter had been added, no-one was doubting.


The rambling alleyways of Stables Market in Camden might not seem a dead ringer for Shanghai, especially given the alternatives of all the various Chinatown centres in cities across Europe. But British Airways and M&C Saatchi decided that the ins and outs of the Camden haunt were just right for the airline's tears of joy ad. Camden, minus the winos with dogs on strings, lent itself well to the recreation of the hustle and bustle of a Chinese marketplace.


It's not just Camber Sands that can pass for a beach in more distant climes. Near Liverpool there's Southport's Ainsdale beach, which is big, flat (especially at low tide) and perfect for shoots demanding not just a strip of sand. So, when the Teacher Training Agency wanted to relive the moment the Wright Brothers made their first flight from a beach in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Ainsdale offered the perfect take off. Camber Sands was too skinny and Pendine beach in Wales didn't quite fit the bill.


Believe it or not, Croydon, the home of Nestle UK, is one of the closest lookalikes for an American city that Blighty can offer. Apparently, it can even fool a US audience when used in an ad for a thoroughly American product. As the setting for a Chrysler ad, with a script showing a car driving through an American business district, the streets of south London's first town, presumably laden with McDonald's, was an acceptable alternative to the real thing.


Manchester is one of those funny cities that bears a resemblance to quite a few places, probably because of the myriad types of people to have settled there over its history. The city made the most of its other-worldliness in a recent poster campaign to promote itself as a surprising destination.

This is Manchester, shot through Onward Films for BDH\TBWA, used the city to picture capitals across the globe. For Manhattan, the delis, wrought-iron fire escapes and narrow side streets of its Northern Quarter. For Vienna, the Gothic architecture of the Refuge building and Albert Square, along with interiors of the Town Hall to give a feeling of Austrian grandeur.

And for Hong Kong, Manchester has the largest Chinese population in Europe, and a Chinatown to match.


Camber Sands and its inland neighbour Romney Marsh have been used for plenty of ads, including a number of telecoms commercials and plenty of magazine pages. After a bit of imaginative scouting by the Location Partnership, an ad for The New York Times, scripted to take place in the flatlands of Utah, was actually shot on a farm near Camber Sands, on the edge of Romney Marsh. The beach bit of the location was most famously used for the Carry On films, which never went further than Kent's fine golden beaches for their desert romps.

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