BTM Top 10……Filming Location Trips For 2013

Having already covered most of the filming locations I ever wanted to do, its getting harder and harder to add to the pile, so this list is not ’13 Filming Location Trips For 2013′ but instead will be known as a BTM Top…… list instead.

Thank god these end-of-year entries is titled ‘Filming Location Trips’ as that means I can include music video locations as well as film ones to bulk out the list a bit!! What chance it being just a BTM Top……5 list next year!!

This years list may lack the oomph of past years but there were still a few notable nuggets covered in the last 12 months. Click on the links below to see more.

1. Skyfall (Click here)

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2. Mission: Impossible III (Click here)

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3. Empire Of The Sun (Click here)

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4. The Toxic Avenger Part II (Click here)

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5. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (Click here)

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6. Quantum Of Solace (Click here)

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7. The Wolverine (Click here)

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8. Lost In Translation (Click here)

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9. Manic Street Preachers – Motorcycle Emptiness (Click here)

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10. Muse – Panic Station (Click here)

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Other 2013 locations for the films listed below can be found here

Moonraker; The Green Zone; Love Actually; Basic Instinct 2; The Bourne Ultimatum; The Tailor of Panama and Kaiser Chiefs ‘Man On Mars’.


Star Wars Traveller – Yavin 4 (a.k.a. Tikal, Guatemala)

Thirteen seconds! Just THIRTEEN SECONDS! That is as long as the ‘Star Wars Episode IV‘ scene in Guatemala lasted. The shot of Tikal, first seen on 98 minutes (and again on 105 mins), features the Millennium Falcon spaceship flying over Yavin 4 which is overseen by a rebel standing on top of Temple IV in the western part of the national park. I have wanted to go to this 550-sq km place for a while now, and believe it or not, long before I even knew it was used briefly in the original 1977 film.

I arrived on the island of Flores (albeit one which is connected to Santa Elena via a 500m causeway) on December 24th following a seven hour bus journey from Antigua via Guatemala City. On Christmas Day I took an early bus to Tikal (not a pre-sunrise one though!) and I have to say that I was far more impressed than I thought I would be. My preconceptions were that it was just a jungle with a few temples and to an extent it is but there’s far more to the place though with thousands of ruined structures dominating the site. I spent the day in the company of a very nice South African couple; Shaun and Kerry, and we had a great day wandering around a fairly deserted place in the glorious sunshine. This was in contrast to the end of the Maya Long Count calendar four days before when by all accounts the place was packed full of people anticipating the supposed end-of-the-world.

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As you can see in the comparison shots above the towering pyramids are of a more glowing golden colour in the film. We reached this lookout point by ascending a series of wooden steps on the back of the 64m temple and the stunning views of the jungle’s green canopy really are the highlight for many. Of course the vast majority of visitors are none the wiser regarding the Star Wars filming location but I was quite surprised to overhear a few people mention the movie whilst we were in the vicinity of the temple. Not sure if they knew that this was the rebel base where Luke Skywalker and co launched their attack to destroy the Galactic Empire’s giant space station; the Death Star, and save his people from Darth Vader grasp.

According to chapter 33 of John Knoll’s ‘Creating the Worlds of Star Wars 365 Days‘ book the Rebel lookout was played by model-maker Lorne Peterson and his perch was erected on site with Richard Edlund of ILM pictured behind the camera in the behind-the-scenes shot (below right) taken in March 1977. According to this article on the Reuters website on December 18th the heavy camera and lighting gear was carried to the top of the temple using a pulley system and a guard protected the equipment with a shotgun for four nights in return for a six-pack of beer! The interior of the Rebel base was actually filmed at Cardington Air Establishment in Bedfordshire, England with the additional helping of a matte painting.

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If you thought thirteen seconds in ‘Star Wars‘ was short then thats nothing when compared to the three seconds which it is on screen for in the James Bond movie ‘Moonraker‘ (1979). 007 travels through the Amazon in search of villain Hugo Drax’s lair, encountering Jaws and other henchmen along the way, before he discovers it supposedly at Temple I at Gran Plaza (as seen in the screenshot below left) though the interior shots were filmed in the studio.

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Across from Temple I is Temple II and despite not being able to climb them (due to people tumbling to their death in the past) they were still awesome to just look at. Beneath the two Temple II pictures below are some photos of other ruined structures as well as the active wildlife in the 16 sq km central area.

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Star Wars Traveller: Tatooine (a.k.a. Death Valley)

Having been to see the Star Wars filming locations of TunisiaItalySpain and England I thought that was the end of the ‘Star Wars Traveller’ series but not so as I couldn’t go to the USA and be so close to some locations without checking them out. Admittedly, Yuma and Redwood Forest featured in ‘Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi’ but there’s not much to be seen there. On the other hand Death Valley in California is a different matter and parts of this vast national park were used to portray Tatooine in ‘Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope’ and ‘Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi’Tunisia is of course more famous for being Tatooine’s true home but scenes were shot in Death Valley and inserted and blended in with those shot in Africa.

Ethan and I were very tired when we arrived in Death Valley one evening last month. Whilst having our burgers at a roadside cafe we debated where to stay that night. In the end we decided to stay in the car all night to save a bit of money. We parked the car on the most quiet of side-roads near the Death Valley sign and, despite being really tired, we ended up drinking a 6-pack of beer each as we got excited by the nothingness of the situation. Despite being in the middle of nowhere in pitch-black darkness we were still able to get phone reception so we skyped a mutual friend back in the UK which was a laugh not that we remember too much about the call!!


Our day started early the next morning and first stop was Stovepipe Wells which is where we briefly see R2D2 wheeling his way across the sand dunes (at 10 mins 23 secs on the special edition dvd) following an argument with C3P0. The sand was absolutely baking hot while we were there and it was painful on the feet at times (I’d discarde my sandals earlier on as we crossed the dunes) as I lined up the shots seen below by matching up the mountains in the background with particular reference to the peaks.


Desolation Canyon was next where the film crew did a couple of pickup shots in the vicinity of this place. The first is the sandcrawler station (13 mins 8 secs) and inevitably can only be matched up using the mountains in the background and the directions given on this article. A 1.6 yard-long radio-controlled model was used for the wideshots such as below left. Whilst I brought my droid figures with me I never gave it a thought to bring my sandcrawler toy which would have been a good idea. Oh well! On top of that I later noticed a mark on the camera lens which is now in a lot of my photos such as the one below right which is a match-up of the screenshot next to it.


Moving a little into Desolation Canyon is where the Bantha (a large native Tatooine animal with a long furry tail) filming took place (28 mins 1 sec) which was basically just an African elephant in a costume! As the name implies this place was completely desolate which can be the only excuse for stripping off for the lower left photo! Actually I’d been telling my American counterpart Ethan that its British-style to do such a pose though whether theres any validity in that statement I don’t know! One gets bored of doing the same poses so here is something different!


Having reached erm rock bottom there, we moved on to Artist’s Palette and it was there that I found the path that Artoo rolled down (11 mins 21 secs and 11 mins 29 secs for the respective screenshots below) before he was attacked by the jawas. This was probably my favourite Death Valley shot as it was one that I remember vividly without having to get the dvd out and it only lasts for about two seconds as indeed do all of these Death Valley locations!


The next location was one I was looking forward to purely for the fact that it was to my first ever ‘Return of the Jedi’ scene. The dirt road for Twenty Mule Team Canyon was used way back in December 1982 where we see the two droids approaching the palace below left. Of course CGI was used to add Jabba’s palace into the background which appears on screen after 5 mins 14 secs. Sadly I don’t have figures of C3P0 and R2D2 which are the same size so my recreation is not perfect but are they ever?!!


Dante’s Inferno was the final destination on this Star Wars tour and by far the easiest to track down as its a major sightseeing spot in its own right. We were of course there as it was the overlook where Ben Kenobi famously introduces Luke Skywalker (as they stand on the cliff edge in Sidi Bouhlel in Tunisia) to Mos Eisley spaceport by telling him “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy“. The screenshot is below left and the views were naturally way more impressive than what was described by Ben Kenobi.


Overall the vast area is a beautiful scenic location as it is and our trip was just further heightened by the six Star Wars locations shot there. After Dante’s Inferno it was then time to leave our great memories of Death Valley (the night spent in, and indeed out of the car was one of the highlights of the whole American journey) behind and make our way to Las Vegas for some very different landscape!

Thanks to the following site:

*** You can see Star Wars Traveller – Naboo (a.k.a. Como, Italy) here
*** You can see Star Wars Traveller – Naboo (a.k.a. Villa del Balbianello, Italy) here
*** You can see Star Wars Traveller – Naboo (a.k.a. Seville, Spain) here
*** You can see Star Wars Traveller – Naboo (a.k.a. Caserta, Italy) here
*** You can see Star Wars Traveller – Naboo (a.k.a. Watford, England) here
*** You can see Star Wars Traveller – Tatooine (a.k.a. Tozeur, Tunisia) here
*** You can see Star Wars Traveller – Tatooine (a.k.a. Matmata, Tunisia) here
*** You can see Star Wars Traveller – Tatooine (a.k.a. The Ksours, Tunisia) here
*** You can see Star Wars Traveller – Tatooine (a.k.a. Djerba, Tunisia) here