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Image of Big Iron Man in Avengers: Age of Ultron

Metropolitan Police Peel Training Centre in Avengers: Age of Ultron

Date posted: 01.04.2015

The Marvel universe expands with Avengers: Age of Ultron, coming to cinemas on 23 April. Director Joss Whedon returns to the helm as we see the star-studded superhero team battling a new villain named Ultron.

Originally developed as a peacekeeping machine, the self-aware and self-teaching Ultron turns on his programming and seeks to destroy humanity, forcing the Avengers to join forces to stop him. 

In Avengers: Age of Ultron, the full cast of S.H.I.E.L.D. superheroes returns with Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk, Chris Evans as Captain America, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow and Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye.

Choosing a location for destruction

As a superhero film with big budget and big action, The Avengers: Age of Ultron needed a large amount of outdoor space with a high degree of flexibility in which to construct their exact and closed-off worlds.

The Peel Training Centre at the Hendon Police College was perfectly suited for the role: a blank canvas and vast space in which to construct realistic exteriors – which were to be destroyed on screen!

"The Met Police Peel Training Centre at Hendon provided Avengers: Age of Ultron with an extraordinary city backlot location," says Supervising Location Manager Jamie Lengyel.

"Over a period of five months, we were able to take control over an unprecedented collection of redundant buildings, streets and real estate for several major set builds, to create and film our scenes at the heart of war-torn 'Sokovia', an Eastern European City."

The Metropolitan Police Film Unit works closely with major production companies, particularly if they need police help or supervision to film in London. When they heard Marvel Studios was looking for suitable locations for the Avengers sequel, it invited the production company to visit the Peel Centre. Several visits later, Marvel Studios created a plan of what the film set would look like and contracts were signed.

Constructing 'Sovokia'

Building began in May 2014 and included a gothic church behind the Peel Centre. A bridge roughly the size of three double decker buses was built in Peel Drive and extended onto the nearby grass area, with a river flowing underneath.

"The complexity and level of detail was incredible," said James Waller, Head of the Metropolitan Police Film Unit. "Even close up, you couldn't tell the gothic church wasn't actually from the medieval period. It was extraordinary."

Steve Dixon, who managed the project for the MPS Film Unit, remembers a particular scene: "Peel Drive was in total destruction. As I walked past Captain America and Thor I heard the sounds, "OK and were rolling" With this I darted away and was told to hide behind a Russian single decker bus. Then "Action". Huge explosions went off behind me when all of a sudden the windows of Peel House blew out above me, showering me in sugar glass to the laughter of the SFX team close by."

"With the site contained within the security conscious and still fully operational Metropolitan Police Training Centre, our presence at Hendon - which included significant special effects - required meticulous planning, brilliantly co-ordinated by location manager Charlotte Wright and team," lauds Lengyel. "We are hugely indebted to James Waller of the Met Police Film Unit for inviting us to consider this location and for skilfully negotiating our presence at Hendon with the many interested parties of the Metropolitan Police."

About the Peel Centre

Hendon Police College is the principal training centre for London's Metropolitan Police Service. Founded with the official name of the Metropolitan Police College, the college is today officially called the Peel Centre, although its original name is still used frequently.

This location is no longer available for film shoots.

For more information about the MPFU and how they can assist your filming projects, visit their website: http://content.met.police.uk/Site/mpsfilmunit 

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