How to Successfully Carry out Location Scouting for Film: A Case Study

Successful films in famous train stations

Some of the most poignant cinematic scenes have been filmed inside famous train stations. Other times, a perfectly ordinary train station has been transformed into a hub of touristic attention due to the filming that occurred there. We have compiled a list of iconic movies filmed on trains, and on train stations. If you are a film location scout seeking inspiration, we also have film locations at railway stations, bypassing you a significant amount of extra effort to find your perfect railway filming location. 

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Famous train stations in movies

Living (2022)

After a medical diagnosis tells a civil servant he has only a short time left, his life takes an unexpected turn. Having been influenced by the decadence of a local woman and a simple revelation that gives him purpose, he is on a quest to create a legacy for the next generation.

The large train station filmed in this movie was Brighton Train Station. With its large space and signature glass ceiling, Brighton is a fantastic filming location. Moreover, Brighton train station has sufficient amenities for film crews, including toilets, Wi-Fi, vending machines, and much experience hosting crews for film and television projects.

 

Mission Impossible 6 (2018)

CIA assassins August Walker and Ethan Hunt join forces to prevent a disaster of epic proportions. John Lark and the Apostles plan to attack the Vatican, Jerusalem, and Mecca, Saudi Arabia, simultaneously with three plutonium cores.

During the filming of Mission Impossible 6, Tom Cruise runs across the roof of Blackfriars station in a nail-biting chase. Filming at Blackfriars train station can produce ideal indoor lighting for artistic shots. Its unique glass roof spans the Thames River and is particularly atmospheric at sunset and sunrise.

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Oh What a Lovely War (1969)

The Smith family, representing the British working class, initially views the war with sunny optimism throughout this film. But as soon as the Smith boys experience trench warfare, their illusions are shattered, and the best they can hope for is survival.

Also filmed at Brighton Train Station, the station’s timeless appearance serves as the perfect backdrop as wounded soldiers march out of the station. The high ceiling allows you to watch the dust rise through the air, and provides a perfect dull atmosphere at this signature moment in the film.

 

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001)

On his eleventh birthday, a boy discovers he is the orphaned son of two powerful wizards and possesses unique magical powers. He is summoned from an unwanted childhood to attend Hogwarts, an English boarding school for wizards. During his stay there, he meets a number of friends who become his closest allies, helping him to unravel the mystery surrounding the deaths of his parents.

Platform 9 and ¾ at Kings Cross Station has become a famous location that fans from around the world now travel to visit. On the 1st of September at 11am, the time that the Hogwarts Express famously departed every year, crows gather at Kings Cross to count down the seconds until this famous time.

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Famous movies filmed on a train

Runaway Train (2013)

Two escaped prisoners hide on board a train speeding through Alaska in this philosophical action thriller. After the driver suffers a fatal heart attack, the train races through the icy wilderness without control. Despite the railroad signalmen’s best efforts, the train’s passengers face disaster as a vindictive prison warden desperately pursues them by helicopter.

The locations used for filming varied across California, Montana and Alaska. The trains used were four Alaska Railroad locomotives, all built by EMD: GP40-2 #3010, F7 #1500, and #1801 and #1810, both GP7s.

 

Compartment No.6 (2021)

While travelling across Russia in cramped train compartments, a Finnish student and an uncouth miner slowly form a hesitant bond. The film’s wider messages include overcoming alienation and finding common ground across cultural and geographical borders. 

Filmed largely inside a real Russian train, and in St Petersburg-Vitebsky, St. Petersburg, Russia (railway station), the film authentically captures the atmosphere of its setting. According to IMDB, the cast even had to smuggle the negative footage out of Russia to get them developed, as the COVID-19 pandemic prevented them from being delivered, nad Russian law did not allow for transporting film negatives out of the country!

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Murder on the Orient Express (1974)

It’s a race against time to solve a murder on a train during a lavish trip through Europe. As an avalanche stops the Orient Express dead in its tracks, the world’s greatest detective, Hercule Poirot, arrives to interrogate all passengers and search for clues.

At first, the film location scouts considered filming on a real train, and so travelled on the 21st-century version of the Orient Express to gain an understanding of the setting. However, the filming itself happened on the soundstages and backlot of Longcross Studios in London.

 

The Tourist (2010)

Math teacher Frank Tupelo (Johnny Depp) finds himself in an extraordinary situation when an alluring stranger, Elise (Angelina Jolie), crosses his path during a trip to Europe to mend his broken heart. Various people, thinking that Frank is Elise’s thieving paramour, Alexander Pearce, try to capture the pair as their innocent flirtation turns into a dangerous game of cat and mouse.

During one of the most iconic scenes in The Tourist, the train travels through Tuscany to Venice. This scene was filmed using the Frecciarossa train. Formerly known as Eurostar Italia, this is an Italian high-speed train. The train leaves from Venezia Santa Lucia station, while Elise boards at Gare de Lyon.

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Logistical problems with filming at a train station

For a comprehensive guide on how to choose the right train station for filming, read here. 

The following may be barriers for film location scouts trying to use a train station as a filming location: 

  • Permits and licenses.
  • Indoor lighting
  • Toilets for the crew
  • Wi-fi
  • Car parking
  • Nearby shops for rehearsal days when catering isn’t provided
  • 30-mile radius from the production office, or else the crew must be put up in hotels

 

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How using Rail Estate Search enables you to easily use famous train stations as a filming location

We have compiled a list of train stations or railway platforms that are adept at being used for filming locations, and grouped them according to what film scouts will look for. As a result, you will spend less time searching for train stations to film at, and you will be able to filter according to your main filming requirements. 

Furthermore, at Rail Estate Search, you can bypass the complexity of permits and film rights. In fact, we are partnered with film-friendly train operators (e.g. Govia Thameslink Railway, among others), who will handle these logistics on your behalf. Essentially, we provide help with complex processes such as permissions, fees, and risk assessments as a location scout.

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