'Only use details, a street lamp or a phone booth, never entire areas.'


Suppose you want to know where a new movie or series was shot. I bet the first thing you do is ask Google. Not that they have the answer, but they come up with a whole range of websites where you can hopefully find the answer..

Hopefully, because there are a lot of sites that do not give you the answer you are looking for at all. Because, surrounded by a lot of noisy advertisements, they offer only a vague description of the country, region or city where the filming took place. If they direct you to a city like New York, London or Paris, you are still looking for a needle in a haystack.

Fortunately, there are also sites that do provide more information. That's nice, because let's face it, if you want to know where a movie was shot, you'd like to know something specific, like a street name or the name of a building or park. Or even better, the exact GPS location.

A Rainy Day in New York copyright FilmNation Entertainment

But to be honest, behind that detailed information there is someone who has to search, collect and provide that information. That is quite an intensive task. I know that from my own experience. But it is one that is very satisfying. You can always cheat and look at the work of the neighbours, but there is nothing more fun and fulfilling than finding a location based on recognizable elements from a movie or trailer you are interested in.

Sometimes you hit the spot immediately. You know where to find the location because it is very clear where the movie was made. Landmarks such as The Brooklyn Bridge in New York, Trafalgar Square in London, the Louvre in Paris and The Griffith Observatory in LA are of course immediately recognizable.

It gets a bit trickier when it comes to recognizing hotels, bars and restaurants. But even there the real location can still be found by looking closely at elements in the decor such as windows, walls and ceilings. Point is, you have to know it before you can recognize it. Like the wonderful murals in the Bemelmans Bar in the Carlyle Hotel In New York which was used in several movies and series including Woody Allen's A Rainy Day in New York.

West Side Story copyright 20th Century Studios

But sometimes it gets really difficult. Let's take a look at the trailer for the new version of West Side Story. Local media had already reported that streets were closed near St. Nicholas Avenue between New York's 110th and 115th streets for Steven Spielberg's retelling of the movie classic. Then you keep looking at Google Street View until, to your great surprise, you find something that resembles that characteristic facade on the movie photo you found. Bull's Eye!

Not every filming location has to offer was found because of this intensive research. Sometimes, you stand on shoulders of other giants and you have to give them the credits. But a lot was also done by real Sherlock Holmeses.

Let me give you another cool example of this online research. It is from the upcoming Spider-Man movie, No Way Home. One of our 'detectives' found that spot based on the road sign seen in the trailer and the information that the movie was partly filmed on location in New York. And with some help from Google Street View. Because where would we be as location fans without that service?

The Matrix Resurrections copyright Warner Bros. Pictures

Okay, one last example. Because it is so much fun to give you an inside in how this works. The trailer for the new Matrix movie, The Matrix Resurrections. It shows - in a split second - how Neo (Keanu Reeves) is amazed by the light of the sun. If you stop the trailer at that point, you'll see a very distinctive building on the left, at least if you look very closely. That's the Columbus Tower in San Francisco. Not that I know all the buildings in San Francisco (I wish I could). But I recognized this one again thanks to a search with Google and – yes, I admit that – because IMDb and Wikipedia already reported that the new movie from the Matrix franchise was partly shot in the city. Subsequently, Google Street View proved to be very helpful in determining the exact filming location. Now, that's what I call a challenge and that’s what we do to find and share information movie fans can use.

Eric of SCEEN IT

October, 2, 2021

A Rainy Day in New York

Spider-Man: No Way Home

West Side Story