Brad Pitt’s Allied filmed in London
Director Robert Zemeckis and actors Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard used London as a production base for their Second World War movie Allied.
The film is set in 1942 and follows Pitt’s Canadian intelligence officer as he falls in love with Cotillard’s French Resistance agent, only to find her accused of spying for the Germans.
Production agency FilmFixer facilitates filming work in 13 different London boroughs and helped Allied’s locations team to single out options in both Camden and Southwark.
“Slotting the shoot into the right dates is tricky, as many factors come into play, and dates can frequently change,” says Andrew Pavord, director of FilmFixer, in comments to The Knowledge.
“Once the shoot dates are scheduled, the location team makes an application on FilmApp, our online film permitting system.”
FilmFixer worked through the Camden Film Office to liaise with local council services on parking and traffic management for the shoot. The office also suggested Paramount Pictures arrange donations to resident groups to ease the process.
Allied presented a location filming challenge owing to the sheer scale of the production and the fact that city streets needed to be dressed for the 1940s era.
“London is an amazing city for filmmakers, but it is very busy and there is never enough parking,” Pavord tells The Knowledge. “The Allied shoot required a lot of preparation – entire streets needed to be cleared of modern cars, signage, lamp posts and bicycles. Even residents’ doors and windows, plant pots and dustbins needed to be altered or removed for the set to look authentic.
“Written permission had to be sought from every single person whose property was affected. If one person objects, the shoot becomes unviable.
"Luckily, Londoners are pretty resilient and generally do not mind helping out, as long as the crew is courteous and considerate. The Allied location team were brilliant – they did all we asked and more to look after the residents.”
The Gillette Building in west London was a central resource for the Allied production team and nearly 80 different sets were built for the film.
Zemeckis is renowned as a director who fully explores the potential of visual effects and for Allied he chose to use a complex blend of location work, studio set builds and digital trickery to create the story’s wartime 1940s settings.
“Visual effects allowed us to create a scope on this film that could not have existed without it,” said Zemeckis.
“No-one could afford to build all that we have portrayed in this movie without digital tools. We’re at a point now that you can do absolutely anything with VFX. We could recreate the cities of Europe and North Africa in the 1940s and do it without facing an impossible amount of building.”
London remains one of the most popular filming locations in the world, partly because of the UK’s generous tax credit support for big-budget movies and high-end TV productions.
Images: Daniel Smith/Paramount Pictures
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