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Image of film still Dorian Gray

Chiswick Town Hall in Dorian Gray

Date posted: 01.09.2009

Momentum Pictures' recently released Dorian Gray is the latest adaptation of Oscar Wilde's 19th Century tale of greed and self-destruction. Filmed on location in and around the capital and Ealing Studios, the film is full of period settings illustrating Victorian life, from luxurious residencies of London's high class to debauched dens of drugs and prostitution.

One of the featured London locations is Chiswick Town Hall. The property, part of the London Borough of Hounslow, doubles up as the studio of Dorian Gray's great friend and artist Basil Hallward - who paints the portrait which underpins the story. Although the screen time for the painting scene was short, Location Managers Pat Karam and Charlotte Wright were looking for an interesting studio space which evoked the period and the characters - as it would set the tone of the film.

The set was used over a few days in early September 2008. The studio occupies the Old Council Chamber at Chiswick Town Hall: a balconied room in high Victorian style which, although built as an extension in 1905, was designed very much to fit in with the earlier style of the other parts of the building. The Chamber, an oak panelled room which was repainted for the film, transmitted a dark mood, but featured good light from high stained glass windows.

Key to the choice of setting was the extraordinary number of props used for the film. The need to recreate the feel and atmosphere of opulently decorated Victorian interiors was high on the list of priorities in the search for appropriate locations. In order to help the props department dressing of the Council Chamber, a nearby room in the building was used for storage in what looked like an Aladdin's cave of precious antiques and Turkish rugs.

By the time the shooting crew arrived half a dozen other rooms were being 'colonised' by electricians, riggers, talent and the camera department. During the shoot the building was effectively taken over and Reel Film Locations co-ordinator, Liz Cater, was fully employed in negotiating the delicate issue of moving pre-bookings for the rooms to accommodate for filming.

Location Manager Pat Karam said of the shoot: "The Hounslow Film Office was extremely helpful and prompt in re-arranging the various bookings and other events scheduled to happen at the location. The filming went extremely well with the film officers providing us with a new unit base that they had sourced nearby. They even helped arrange a scaffold rig alongside the hall for lighting."

For more details about Chiswick Town Hall please visit the Reel Film Locations website.

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