Friday, November 9, 2012

Philadelphia's Urban Body Double: Glasgow

The just released trailer for next summer's zombie-blockbuster "World War Z" is seeing a lot of attention around Philadelphia today, as the city is Pitt's home in the film. In the last couple of years especially, Philadelphia has seen a lot of in-town filming, usually as a stand-in for New York. It's always entertaining to walk down Walnut Street and see MTA buses and NYPD police cars.

In a typically cruel twist of fate, despite actually being the setting for the film, all of the World War Z street scenes were shot elsewhere. And what city was chosen to be Philly's body double? Glasgow, Scotland. A friend of mine, Carlos Fornos, a New York architect, did a lot of work in Glasgow last year and reports that Glasgow seems like a sensible stand-in for Philadelphia. Glasgow is Scotland's blue-collar city, with a similar building scale and street grid. But to Fornos, Glasgow has, "a darker feel than Philly, with its Victorian architecture. Add in the wonderful climate of Scotland, and I guess that's why it made a good setting," for a zombie flick.

Carlos also sent along a set of photos from Glasgow during the shooting, all taken by Irish architect Jason Bell. The shots fly by in the trailer, but the photos allow one to take a good look at the props in Glasgow. It's interesting to see a view from the ground of what the Glasgow production team did to emulate Philadelphia. It's too bad that Philly missed out on a chance to star as itself for once, and enjoy the estimated 2 million pound economic boost that came with the filming.

Production trailers.
I spy a yellowtag! The Chevy Lumina taxi in the back looks to be about the quality of Philly's cab fleet.
Signs for the Vine Street Expressway.
I assume that this building is supposed to be a stand-in for City Hall, and I suppose that it does bear a passing resemblance to Philly's seat of power, prior to its past decade of cleaning.
This building is making its best effort to be the 1937 Robert Nix Federal Courthouse at 9th & Market, Art Deco signage and all. 
This signage isn't quite accurate, both in look and information. The places are just a jumble of Philadelphia landmarks, and there are most certainly not public restrooms and a first aid station in Rittenhouse Square. But the biggest miss here is the sneaky British spelling of "Centre City."
A very different version of the intersection of 16th & Arch. I guess this is supposed to be Love Park? Also, not to nitpick, but the street signs are missing there distinctive Liberty Bell and block numbers. Sloppy work!
Hmm... an MTA bus? Maybe this is a not to all the New York-set movies that are shot in Philly? How meta! Also, the Nix Courthouse is over here on 16th, across the street from Love Park.
Signage for a made-up exhibit at the made-up Philadelphia Philanthropic Foundation.
More signage. Glad to see that the Scottish break out their cameras at the sight of filming, just like us.

Here's the corner of 16th and JFK. I'm not sure that the building behind has a good analog in Philly.
A fine facsimile of a PFD Medic unit.

Looking up at 'City Hall" from Arch Street. This building is actually Glasgow's City Hall.
More of the Vine Street Expressway signage.
A food delivery truck, replete with a 215 phone number!
I don't think that they have the route number right, but I think this bus wants to be a Septa route 42 bus, on it's way from Penn's Landing to 61st and Pine.

This SWAT truck is clearly out of a movie. I mean come on, this is Philadelphia. This thing is basically a mail truck. Here's an actual PPD SWAT vehicle.
A final look at the Nix Courthouse body double, complete with Philadelphia City Flag.