Top 5……Australia Filming Locations

On 12th February 2001 I stepped onto Australian soil for the first time ready to spend a years working holiday travelling around the huge island. Over the years I’ve returned for a couple more visits but it was that original trip which gave me the travel bug and was actually where I visited my first filming locations. To commemorate that visit exactly 13 years on (everyone celebrates 13th anniversaries right!!) we here at Beyond The Movies present you with the Top 5……Australia filming locations.

1. Pin Oak Court, Melbourne: ‘Neighbours‘ (1985 – Present) – I’ve now racked up four visits to this famous soap opera street in South Melbourne and it has to be said there’s something exciting about going to a location which features so regularly on our screens. More details here

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2. Palm Beach, Sydney: ‘Home & Away‘ (1988 – Present) – This northern beachside suburb has provided the backdrop for so many of this soap’s memorable moments and is  a great place in its own right whether you’ve seen the show or not. More details here

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3. Bare Island, La Peruse, Bottany Bay: ‘Mission: Impossible II‘ (2000) – The films most iconic image, with Cruise riding his motorcycle through balls of fire as he escapes from the fort, was shot here. More details here

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4. Pitt Street Waterfall, Sydney: ‘The Matrix‘ (1999) and ‘Superman Returns‘ (2006) – A double-dose of movie action took place at this circular fountain. There was the distracting woman in the red dress as part of combat training in the former and Superman saves Lex Luthor’s henchwoman Kitty Kowalski in the latter. More detailshere & here.

 

5. Kings Canyon: ‘The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert‘ (1994) – Yes, its a very famous landmark and I don’t usually go for them as such but given its isolated location in the middle of such a vast land I feel it justifies inclusion. More details here

 

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BTM Top 5……Mission: Impossible Filming Locations

Fuelled by a memorable and ever-lasting theme tune the ‘Mission: Impossible‘ film series currently stands at four films starring Tom Cruise as IMF Agent Ethan Hunt. There is talk of a fifth movie scheduled for late 2015 but for now we will have to settle for what we’ve got from a series which is the 15th highest grossing film series of all time with over $2 billion worth of worldwide gross. The series has taken place around the globe in the likes of the USA, Australia, England, Czech Republic, UAE, Russia, Scotland, India, Hungary, Canada, China and Italy so here are the TF Top 5…… Mission Impossible locations. Warning! This piece may contain plot spoilers!

1. Xitang, Jiashan County, Zhejiang Province (China): ‘Mission: Impossible III‘ (2006) – Hunt and his team track down the mysterious rabbits foot to Shanghai and, though its not named, the place Hunt ends up in is Xitang. He finds villain Owen Davian here and basically accomplishes his mission. More details here

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2. Bare Island, La Peruse, Bottany Bay, New South Wales (Austrlia): ‘Mission: Impossible II‘ (2000) – This island, south of Sydney, is villain Sean Ambrose’s hideout and one that provides one of the movies most iconic images as Hunt rides his motorcycle through balls of fire as he escapes from the fort. More details here

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3. Charles Bridge, Prague (Czech Repblic): ‘Mission: Impossible‘ (1996) – The world heritage bridge, which connects the Old Town with Prague Castle, is where things really go wrong with controller Jim Phelps plunging into the Vltava having seemingly taken a bullet on the bridge. This famous bridge was also used in music video’s by Linkin Park (‘Numb‘) and Kanye West (‘Diamonds From Sierra Leone‘) as well as 2002 ‘XxX‘ where Vin Diesel comes up with an out-of-this-world stunt to save the bridge and the city of Prague from a deadly bomb. More details here

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4. Anchor Tavern Pub, Southwark, London (UK): ‘Mission: Impossible‘ (1996) – This is the terrace pub on London’s South Bank where Hunt finally gets to take it easy for a few moments as the film comes to a conclusion. More details here

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5. Caserta Palace, Caserta (Italy): ‘Mission: Impossible III‘ (2006) – This palace has featured prominently in movie history and in this film it doubles up as Vatican City which  Ethan and the team infiltrate to capture antagonist Davian who is there to obtain the mysterious ‘Rabbit’s Foot’. More details here

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6 Movies ‘Set’ In Japan But Filmed Elsewhere

Unlike other Asian countries, foreign production companies usually remain faithful to Japan by actually filming on location when need be but there are of course times when other places are used to fill in for the country. One of the most common scenarios is for Japanese scenes to be filmed at Japanese, or even Chinese gardens in the USA, Australia or wherever but the following movies were all faked in some way using other countries to double up as Japan.

* The Karate Kid Part II (1989) – The sequel to the classic 1986 film sees Daniel-san follow Mr Miyagi (Pat Morita) back to the latter’s homeland to see his dying father in Okinawa whilst settling some old scores. Oahu in Hawaii stood in for the southern Japan island. A scenic area called Kahaluu was spotted in an aerial survey from helicopter by the filmmakers 20 miles from Honolulu.

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The place is 43 acres and is covered with palms and a lagoon which once served as a royal fish pond. Thanks to some of Morita’s connections, filming was able to take place on the land which had been closely preserved before then. An Okinawan village was built and 50 Okinawa-born Hawaii residents were recruited to portray the villagers. Further shooting took place at The Burbank Studios in California where the Naha street and the O-bon dance and finale at the moat-surrounded ruins of the ancient castle were filmed.

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* The Last Samurai (2003) – Whilst some filming was done in Kyoto and Himeji the rest was principally done in New Zealand. The Taranaki region on the west coast of the country’s North Island played host to much of the filming with the Japanese village  constructed on the hillsides of the Uruti Valley where some battle scenes took place too.

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New Plymouth is the major city in the area and its port played the part of the Japanese Port. Less than an hour away from there is Mount Taranaki which portrayed Mount Fuji.  The parade ground, where the Japanese troops are trained to use rifles, and where Algren (Tom Cruise) invites a young recruit to shoot him, is the Pukekura Sports Ground in Pukekura Park, New Plymouth. The ’battle in the fog’ scene was filmed in Mangamahoe Forest, outside the town.

* Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (1993) – Not too much of a shock that this poor second sequel was not filmed in Japan.  It was set in feudal Japan in 1603 even though the movie poster states that it’s set in the year 1593!!  All filming was done nearly 5000 miles away in Astoria, Oregon. (You can see the full movie here)

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* Austin Powers In Goldmember (2002)  – It doesn’t take a genius to realise that none of this third instalment in the Austin Powers trilogy was not filmed anywhere near Tokyo! They didn’t reference this fact quite as blatantly as they did in the second film where Austin Powers (Mike Myers) comments on how England looks remarkably like Californian countryside! 40 minutes into the movie Japan’s capital is seen by way of Dr Evil’s (also played by Mike Myers) new lair which is a submarine in Tokyo Bay in the shape of him including the classic little finger to the mouth. It’s long, hard and full of sea-men! This was supposedly created using CGI and the docks at San Pedro in south Los Angeles.

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The Asahi Sumo Arena doesn’t exist which is where Austin and Foxxy head (albeit with obvious rear projection of Shinjuku in the background) to find Fat Bastard (again played by Mike Myers) who tells them of Roboto Industries whose boss is named purely to give Powers the chance to say “Domo arigatou Mr Roboto” as was sung in Styx’s 1983.

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* Letters From Iwo Jima (2006) – This Japanese volcanic island is actually part of Tokyo albeit a long, long way south (750 km) of the mainland. Access to the island is prohibited (for the general public) but the filmmakers were given special permission by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to film there on a short day trip there. A short scene with Ken Watanabe doing something or another on the beach was shot and then  Sandvik in Iceland was used to replicate its black sand beaches. Other scenes were filmed primarily in Barstow and Bakersfield in California as well as the studio’s in Los Angeles.

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* The Wolverine (2013) – An artistic license was certainly used where the filming of this one was concerned. Sure, the funeral scene really was at Zojoji temple in Tokyo but that footage was all interwoven with what was filmed at Chinese Friendship Gardens in Sydney. The very same gardens were also used in ’The Adventures Of Priscilla Queen Of The Desert‘ (1994). The Australian city was further used with Nagasaki’s wartime prison camp being built at Bonna Point Reserve in Kurnell on the south of Botany Bay.

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Yashida’s heavily-defended compound in Tokyo was actually filmed at the Fox Studios on  the former Sydney Showground at Moore Park. Paramatta is in Sydney’s western suburbs and the intersection of George and Smith Streets doubled up as the Tokyo streets where a foot chase took place. Furthermore,  Sydney Olympic Park was made into a Japanese village draped in snow where Logan (Hugh Jackman) heads to save Mariko from Yashida’s empire in the mountains. Filming also took place on Brisbane Street in Surrey Hills which was transformed to look like a Japanese street with Japanese signs and vehicles scattered throughout.

‘Beyond The Movies’ – Behind The Scenes + Full Interview

‘Beyond The Movies’ is the title I’ve been using for the last few years on my Facebook film-related albums which feature mostly shooting locations but also include screenshots, memorabillia, exhibitions, toys, events and anything which takes the reader beyond the surface of that particular movie. These albums include Star Wars, James Bond, Jason Bourne, Terminator, Back To The Future, Mission Impossible, Super Heroes, Tokyo, Kansai, Asia, The USA, Australia, Europe, The UK and so on.

I often (well occasionally) get asked how I find out the details of each shot which I take so here, by way of a recent online interview I did, is a sneak-peak behind the scenes look at how things fall into place at the Tokyo Fox Global Operations Centre in Tokyo.

 

Here is the full transcript of the interview which will no doubt be edited down quite a bit when it finally sees the light of day later in the year.

How did this obsession come about? I’ve always been interested in seeing such locations but after years of travelling and seeing the usual stuff like waterfalls, beaches, churches, temples and so on I became a bit bored of just doing the sights when I visit a place so hunting down these famous filming locations allowed me to see places in different ways whilst getting off the well worn and proverbial beaten track at the same time.

Do you choose your holiday destinations based solely on films shot there? Apart from maybe Tunisia I have never solely gone to a place just for locations but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t play a major part. Its usually a combination of a few things.

What were the first filming locations you went to? The first one I really remember was one of the Fijian islands which was used in the Tom Hanks survival movie ‘Castaway‘ but that was way back in 2002. It wasn’t until a trip to Phuket in Thailand in 2008 with my mate Ethan that I realised I was more interested in seeing the island from the James Bond film ‘The Man With The Golden Gun‘ and the hostel and beach from ‘The Beach‘ rather than your typical usual touristy sights. Of course a couple of those places I’ve just mentioned are sights in their own right but the hostel certainly isn’t and that was fun.

What has been your favourite location? There have been many. Something like Petra in Jordan which featured in ‘Indiana Jones & the last Crusade‘ was great but that’s a famous sight in its own right so I’d have to say that its the Star Wars stuff in Tunisia. Random places completely unknown by locals who have never seen the saga.

 

What’s been the most difficult one to find? Some of the ones here in Tokyo actually. I needed help from a couple of Japanese people to help me find locations from ‘The Grudge‘ as there was nothing in English and my Japanese skills don’t quite stretch to searching pages and pages of information written in Japanese kanji.

Have you ever failed to track down a place? Yes and I’m still a little gutted about it as it was a big important one. My driver and I just could not locate the igloo in the south west of Tunisia which was the exterior of the Lars Homestead in Star Wars Episodes IV and II.

What preparations do you make in advance? I watch the film with a notepad and pen taking notes on the time of the scene and using the pause button regularly. I then draw a rough sketch of the scene I want to replicate. The end credits of the film sometimes give a bit of fairly vague info on the locations or who the producers thank can give a helping hand. Basically I utilise the DVD extras to maximum effect by watching ‘making of…’ documentary, deleted scenes & listening to the directors commentary. Computer-wise I used to copy photos of scenes from the web if they were available and then printed them out for comparison shots. In recent times I have become a bit more modernised and use my iPad or iPhone to store the pictures on which is far better than a badly printed screenshot picture. I have also used my PSP in the past for ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’ and ‘Bourne Identity’ stuff but the UMD format is basically a failed one so isn’t going to be so beneficial as very few films were released as a PSP video.

  

What resources do you use to help you? Having decided where I want to go to on a trip I cross-reference that place with ‘The Worldwide Guide to Movie Locations‘ (Tony Reeves) book and website which is the grandaddy of filming locations information. Furthermore, I search Wikipedia, YouTube and the net in general where other movie fans have posted their stuff online but its not always so easy as certain ones, particularly the ones here in Japan, are not detailed well. Imdb can sometimes be as vague as just saying the country name but its filming locations section occasionally if I’m lucky goes much further in detail and even gives addresses. I also search out books and programmes with Mark Dermul’s Star Wars books in particular assisting me for finding the exact points which George Lucas used.

You appear in a lot of your photos so who takes them for you? Apart from a few trips with friends the vast majority have been taken by myself using a tripod and timer. For the record I appear in my pictures to stop people wanting to steal them off the internet and pass them off as their own…and of course because I’m very vain! haha!

Where does the name Tokyo Fox come from? Well my team Leicester City, who play in the league below the Premier League, are nicknamed the Foxes and I live in Tokyo so there you go.

What kind of person looks at the Tokyo Fox website? Good question! Apart from my parents, who themselves probably skim over all the film stuff, I know of very few of my family or friends who regularly look at it. I get a lot of hits for the Star Wars, Bourne, Back to the Future, James Bond, Terminator locations in particular from like-minded fans scouring google in search of these places which have played a part in movie history. Of course theres other stuff on there about Japanese life and travel etc which is quite popular too.

Do you have any plans to release a book? Well I’ve certainly considered it a few times and did start work on a Japan filming locations title but as ever these things get put aside while other things in my life take over. I’d like to pull my finger out one day and get something published but whether it will happen I don’t know. Watch this space…

 

What locations would you like to see in the future? Hmmm, not too many must-sees left but I am going to New York next month which has more films set there than anywhere else. Other than that then maybe Guatemala to do a Star Wars shot and maybe some of central america may be of interest. I still have places to see in London and it would actually be nice to travel my own country a bit more in the name of shooting locations.

‘Star Wars Episode III: ‘Revenge Of The Sith’ Filming Locations

Ok so this entry is pretty lame and not such a serious one but as today (19th May) is the 7th anniversary of ‘Revenge of the Sith‘ I thought I might as well follow up my articles on ‘The Phantom Menace‘ and ‘Attack of the Clones‘. So here goes with all that I’ve managed to cobble together regarding the final piece of the Star Wars jigsaw.

Whilst Episodes I and II were filmed both in the studio and on location the third and final part of the Star Wars saga was filmed almost entirely in the studio. That studio was Fox Studio’s Australia which is in Moore Park in Sydney which I went by in March when I was on holiday down under.

Obi-Wan Kenobi makes his first appearance in this film on 3 mins and here is a Pepsi promotional can I have with his face on it. I did warn you that this would be full of some tenuous links!

Plate shots of Guilin in China and Phuket in Thailand were used to make up Kashyyk; the planet where the wookies including Chewbacca live. It seems that there is no information on the internet about what parts of these places were shot though the mountains of Guilin can be made out around the 49 minute mark. Not sure what part of Phuket was used so here is a random photo of me somewhere in the Thai place!

The Rebel Blockade Runner spaceship a.k.a. the Tantive IV, which first appeared in ‘Episode IV: A New Hope‘, is back on our screens on 86, 90 and 130 mins. There is a set piece of this at the London Film Museum on Southbank next to the London Eye and it costs £7 per photo (two for £10) on top of the entrance fee. Richard Richard and I had no qualms about spending that money on the photos below.

     

Undoubtedly the icon of the Star Wars saga is Darth Vader and in the scheme of things he first appears in ‘Revenge of the Sith‘ after 127 mins. I have met the evil with lord on various occasions and in many guises but I have limited it to these pictures taken at Star Wars Celebration Japan in 2008.

Finally a proper location appears for the films climax on 132 mins as Padme’s twins are delivered to their new families with Obi-Wan arriving on Tatooine at the Lars Homestead exterior in Chott el Djerid, Nefta. This Tunisian location was of course used far more prominently in Episodes I, II and IV. The picture of me in front of the binary sunset is undoubtedly just me taken in front of a big picture at the aforementioned Star Wars Celebration Japan event. You don’t need to be a Jedi to work that one out!

    

After the film came out ‘The Art of Star Wars’ exhibition was around in Tokyo for a couple of months which I went to with fellow SW fan and rival blogger Gideon.

The final tenuous link in this ever-so-lame feature on ‘Revenge of the Sith‘ comes by way of this FunFax file which I picked up in a second hand book shop a few years after the film came out.

Sydney Filming Locations: The Matrix (1999)

Can’t say I ever cared too much for this 1999 film but it does have some great action scenes which in some ways compensate for the “as if!” moments. Even though it doesn’t reference Sydney that is where most of it was filmed as the city’s Central Business District portrayed a generic metropolis better than most of its world city counterparts due to the lack of highly recognisable skyscrapers.

Keanu Reeves plays Neo; the computer programmer who leads a double life and is chased down by Matrix agents on 12 mins at the Westpac Plaza (below left) on 273 George Street where he works. He does try to escape from them by climbing out on to the window ledge on 16 mins before admitting defeat and giving himself up for capture.

 

The combat training featuring the distracting woman in the red dress takes place at Martin Place (above right) on 57 mins where the street meets Pitt Street. This circular fountain is where Morpheus tries to explain something or another about the Matrix and six years later the very same fountain appeared in ‘Superman Returns‘. A screenshot and different photo from that film can be seen here.

Chifley Plaza at 2 Chifley Square is the tower (below left) holding the restaurant which comes on screen after 64 mins where Cypher switches sides over a juicy and delicious steak with Agent Smith whilst uttering some b*llocks about his steak not really existing.

 

The Westin Hotel at 1 Martin Place (above right) was used for interior shots involving the chase scenes and the ‘deja vu’ cat around the 78 min mark on the hotels grand staircase below.

 

 

Above left is the Colonial State Bank Centre which can be found at 52 Martin Place. Agent Smith holds Morpheus captive here on 91 mins after their slowly choreographed fight 27 mins earlier. On 106 mins the Aon Tower (above right) at 201 Kent Street can be seen behind the building rooftop where Neo and Trinity take part in one of the most ridiculous slow-mo shooting scenes in cinema history before they take a helicopter on 107 mins and fly in front of the aforementioned Bank Centre where they fire at the evil Smith and his fellow kidnapping pals. Morpheus leaps for freedom and is miraculously caught by Neo as tends to happen in films. The helicopter then flies over Sydney’s relatively anonymous skyscrapers with them dangling down from it. Having dropped off Morpheus, Neo lands safely on the Allianz Centre (below left) on 110 mins but the helicopter crashes into the British Telecom Tower (below right) opposite it. These two buildings are located at 2 Market Street and 1 Market Street respectively.

 

Much of the film was of course made in the studio with Fox Studios Australia (below left) in Moore Park being the ones used. ‘Star Wars Episode III‘ and ‘Moulin Rouge‘ among others were also shot here. The corner of Pitt Street and Hunter Street (below right) was the location for the fake phonebox where Neo makes a final phone call to the machines on 128 mins.

 

Sydney Filming Locations: Mission Impossible II (2000)

M:I-2‘ as it was officially titled is probably the worst of the Mission Impossible films but thats not to say that its bad. Its just that John Woo’s direction of the sequel grates with me a bit because of all the ridiculous acrobatics, somersaults and slo-mo action scenes.

A lot of the movie was filmed in New South Wales (NSW), particularly in Sydney and it starts straight away with the camera panning over the Opera House (below left) and on to Biocyte Pharmaceuticals which in reality is Governor Phillip Tower (below right). It can be found in the north-east area of the Central Business District (CBD) at 29/1 Farrer Place, Sydney NSW 2000.

   

Argyll Street in The Rocks (below) doubles up as Seville in Spain and is where Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) meets Nyah (Thandie Newton). During filming the street was totally transformed with dust added to the streets and passionate music playing whilst a religious procession took place.

   

The Spanish driveway scene in “Seville” on 17 mins was shot at Boomerang Mansion (above) at 42 Billyard Avenue in Elizabeth Bay. This three storey mansion has been described as the oldest and finest example of Spanish architecture in Australia and is private property so the only view I could really get of it was from Beare Park.

On 34 mins the beautiful Nyah is driven under Sydney Harbour Bridge on the boat which takes her to villain Sean Ambrose’s apartment which was located at Bradley Head on Mosman and can be seen after 36 mins and again on 42 mins. The apartment was just a set prop so I didn’t feel it too necessary to take a boat over to Mosman instead settling for a long distance view (lower right) of it taken from one of the towers on the bridge.

 

 

Broken Hill in the far west outback of NSW appears on 35 mins as the remote sheep station where Hunt meets up with his team; the Aussie pilot and the computer expert.

 

46 mins in and we see Royal Randwick Racecourse. This is the type of place I wouldn’t bother with usually when hunting down filming locations but as I was staying 5 minutes walk away at my friends house I jumped at the chance of seeing it. The course is undergoing a bit of reconstruction at the moment which probably worked in my favour as it meant it was open and I could just walk in and take the photos below.

 

The screenshots (below) are of Darling Harbour; the location featured on 86 mins where Ambrose parks up and shows the virus in the test-tube to Nyah leading her to slap him and is then left to wander the streets of Sydney in a daze having previously injected herself with the virus to stop him killing her to get it. I had planned to go here but ultimately ran out of time and considered it low priority as it was a little out of the way from all the other areas of Sydney I was concentrating on on this trip.

 

The most interesting filming location from M:I-2 has to be Bare Island in La Peruse down in Bottany Bay which makes its big screen debut at the 87 minute mark. The place where Cruise climbs up the cliff face is on the left side near to the back and is usually just a place for fishermen to dip their tackle in and see what bites. The tower with all the satellite dishes on it was a prop added to the island by the producers.

 

     

This island fortress is Ambrose’s bunker headquarters where his transition with Biocyte’s CEO takes place. Cruise rides his motorcycle through balls of fire in what is perhaps the most iconic scene from the whole movie. Its certainly the one which is seen on most posters or pictures relating to the film. The little castle looking building (above right) can be seen 104 mins in as a fairly lengthy motorcycle chase seemingly goes round in circles and doesn’t actually go as far as it would appear on screen. It can be seen in the top of the  picture (lower left) which shows how close it is to the point where Hunt escapes from the fort.

   

The film ends in the Royal Botanic Gardens (below) by the Opera House on 117 mins with the two heroes kissing and walking off arm in arm through the place as we get a final aerial view of Sydneys two most famous landmarks.

 

Want to see more Mission Impossible filming locations? If so, then check out:

London Filming Locations: Mission Impossible (1996) – click here.

Prague Filming Locations: Mission Impossible (1996) – click here.

Caserta (Italy) Filming Locations: Mission Impossible III (2006) – click here.