‘Why I love 116 Pall Mall as a film set’
From Hollywood blockbusters to corporate events, 116 has provided the ideal backdrop for filmmakers.
“We’ve probably filmed in London more times than any other production company,” says Chocolate Films director and co-founder Mark Currie.
Chocolate Films is a social enterprise video production company that uses its profits to support a huge outreach and educational programme and has produced films for some of the capital’s most famous attractions. This includes the Tate Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Museum of London, the V&A as well as 116 Pall Mall.
Chocolate has also made a series of documentaries under the title of 1000 Londoners that tell real life stories of extraordinary people across the capital. Here, Mark talks about why 116 is a ‘beautiful place’ for a shoot and the magic of filming in the heart of the capital…
“116 has featured in award-winning movies like Gandhi and The Dark Knight. We’ve filmed events in pretty much every room within 116. That includes speeches from ex-Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson and former Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gillard. We’ve also covered book launches for Lord Browne and John Hegarty, as well as events that cover several floors of the building such as The Times CEO Summit, Women in Business Summit and Nigeria Day.
“And when Simon Walker was Director General at the Institute of Directors we would film a regular roundtable event in what is now The Directors Room where he would invite leading figures in business to discuss a topical issue.
“What makes it a good location? Quite simply it is a beautiful venue in the heart of London. The magnificent paintings on the wall are a continuation of the same series that is in the Waterloo Chamber at Windsor Castle. I mean, they’re not just any old paintings. They are Thomas Lawrence portraits of major generals from the Battle of Waterloo! For me, the best place to film in is The Carlton Room. It takes some careful lighting, but the whole room is golden and kind of shimmers this golden light on everybody’s faces so they everyone looks amazing whenever you film in there.
“You can get some gorgeous shots from the top of the staircase and some really good moving shots walking up the staircase. Also, for interviews, if you shoot them at the top (of the staircase) then you get the chandelier glistening in the background which you can pop into soft focus.
“Every venue has challenges but actually 116 has far more benefits than challenges by a long way. The backgrounds are stunning. It always looks like a period drama! Also, the rooms were designed as rooms, so it’s not as if you’re taking over a space in a gallery and trying to make it look like something different. It feels like you’re back in the heart of a beautiful, exclusive club, when really it’s far more accessible than that.”
“Access is great for film crews as you’ve got lifts in different parts of the building. There is also a lot of the behind the scenes space, which I find particularly useful if you’re filming at a busy event, so you have somewhere to put all your gear. The challenges of filming in London can include getting permission and cost. It’s fairly expensive to film in Trafalgar Square and can cost several hundred pounds an hour.
“But we love filming around the West End because there are so many ways you can approach it. We’ve filmed it from the perspective of a rickshaw driver, an escort, a star of a West End musical or a homeless person selling The Big Issue on The Strand. That’s the amazing thing about the West End, every walk of life passes through. There is something magical about it. And then you’ve got some amazing places to film around 116 Pall Mall. One of my favourite shoots involved capturing the sunrise at the National Gallery, which we did on a timelapse.
“We also filmed loads of big events on The Mall, St James’s, The Mall and Trafalgar Square. There is always this buzz of excitement whenever you’re filming around that part of the world.”
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FILMING LOCATIONS AT 116 PALL MALL
116 Pall Mall, a historic, Grade-1 listed Georgian masterpiece in central London is the perfect backdrop for film shoots, whether large-scale films or smaller shoots. Surrounded by iconic landmarks such as Buckingham Palace, St James’s Park, Piccadilly Circus, Waterloo Place and Trafalgar Square, we are the ideal film location.
Make an enquiry to find out more information, including arranging a personal tour of 116 Pall Mall.