There’s something special about ‘on-location’ filming. While large studios and CGI can create whole worlds for us to explore (seen in Avatar, The Jungle Book, and 300), we’ve got to admit that ‘Lot 3’ somewhere in Hollywood doesn’t quite compare to filming locations like the desert, a Canadian forest in winter, or Middle-earth…I mean New Zealand.
These are some of the coolest filming locations that movies (and TV shows) have used across the world. Some minor spoilers ahead.
1. Skyfall – Glencoe, Scotland
Bond movies are known for traversing the globe, with scenes taking place everywhere from glitzy casinos in Montenegro to ridiculous evil Icelandic bases. Daniel Craig’s third flick, Skyfall, took us to Istanbul, Shanghai, and more – however the one location that stands out for us is Glencoe in the Scottish Highlands.
It might just be because we’re biased towards the Highlands, and well to be honest it probably is. But the image of Bond standing silently in the picturesque landscape really stays with the viewer long after they leave the theater. This effect alone is enough to earn Glencoe a spot on our list of best filming locations.
2. Mad Max: Fury Road – Namibia
The newest entry of the post-apocalyptic, vehicle-heavy series needed somewhere appropriately barren to drive (ha) home the whole ‘the world is over’ thing. Coming from Australia, the filmmakers obviously first looked at their own Outback as they had done for the previous movies. Unfortunately, unusual amounts of rain had left the chosen parts of Australia looking a bit too lush for their liking.
Luckily, the vast Namib Desert was waiting in the wings to fill in. With miles of sand as far as the eye can see, the desert was the perfect place film. Understandably, the harsh conditions were frustrating for many of the actors (including star Tom Hardy), but everyone admitted that the final product made the on-location shoots well worth the effort.
3. The Revenant – Cold Places
Poor Tom Hardy can’t really catch a break. After toughing it in the unforgiving Namib Desert for months, he traded uncomfortable heat for the cold weather of Canada and even the tip of Argentina (when Western Canadian forests became too warm).
Many involved complained about the difficulty of the shoot, which included freezing water, animal carcasses, and crew members leaving the project. Throw in an inflated budget and The Revenant definitely had its fair share of problems before it even came out. In the end however, it made a bunch of money, won a lot of awards, and was well loved by critics and audiences…so it’s all worth it in the end, right?
4. The Lord of the Rings – New Zealand
Rarely has a place become so synonymous with a film shot there as New Zealand was with The Lord of the Rings. The early 2000’s critical and commercial mega hits brought a huge amount of interest to the island nation. With over 150 different locations throughout the country, the fantasy films showcased the beauty and sheer diversity in what is a relatively small area.
Lord of the Rings tours became the new trend, with fans the world over travelling to New Zealand just to walk in the steps of the Fellowship. If you’re looking to take a trip to Middle-earth yourself, you can still visit the Hobbiton movie set (restored and updated for The Hobbit film series) – complete with Hobbit holes and the famous inn. The Lord of the Rings proves that choosing the right filming locations not only looks better on the silver screen, but can turn any location into a tourist destination.
5. Game of Thrones – Northern Ireland, Croatia, etc.
While not a 200 million dollar film like the rest of these entries, TV series Game of Thrones puts most Hollywood movies to shame when it comes to on-location shooting. Over the course of six seasons, scenes have been shot in everywhere from Northern Ireland and Iceland to Croatia, Spain, Malta, Morocco and beyond.
While Belfast is the ‘home’ of the production, the show often runs two separate crews at any given time – with the actors, producers, writers, and everyone else working simultaneously in separate countries. If you’d like to visit some of the places where battles were fought, people were betrayed, and fan favourites bit the dust, check out our Game of Thrones Travel Guide.
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