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The Avengers in London

Date posted: 22.04.2015

Director Joss Whedon returns with his band of superheroes to save humanity once again in Avengers: Age of Ultron, coming to cinemas tomorrow. The star-studded production took full advantage of London’s locations, studios and talent.

The full cast of 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. Together, they battle a sentient robot known as Ultron.

Playing host to heroes

London was buzzing with superheroes throughout the shooting of Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Even London screenwriters benefitted from the presence of Hollywood heavy hitters. Writer/director Whedon, also of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly fame, gave an impromptu free writers' workshop in Soho while he was in the city.

While big budget productions are increasingly attracted to London for the UK's generous Film Tax Relief – which has recently been enhanced – the best part is always seeing productions enjoying all our city has to offer! Who wouldn't want to film in London?

London on screen

While extensive sets were built in Shepperton and Longcross Studios, the production also took a keen eye to the streets of London, finding the best and most appropriate real-life backdrops for the big action story.

Locations including the Rivoli Ballroom and Brent Civic Centre were used, but the most extensive and creative use of London space was in the Peel Training Centre at the Hendon Police College.

Creating 'Sovokia' in 'Hendonbury'

Our Location of the Month, the Peel Training Centre, was transformed into the Eastern European city of 'Sovokia' for an impressive battle sequence.

It's not easy to find and manage the perfect space, but London's Location Managers are always up to the challenge and outdid themselves with the discovery and transformation of the Peel Centre. A lot of manpower goes into the creation of these miniature worlds, and the team for this project was both hardworking and big in numbers.

"With so much filming coming to the UK at the moment this means that there are fantastic opportunities for film students/university leavers, of which we had anything up to 20 with us at Hendon," says Location Manager Charlotte Wright. 

Jamie Lengyel, Supervising Location Manager, describes how they constructed the war-torn fictional city: "We were able to take control over an unprecedented collection of redundant buildings, streets and real estate for several major set builds."

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."

"We were there for 15 weeks in total with three weeks of filming in July 2014," adds Wright. "By that point the sun was shining and our footprint was so enormous we nicknamed ourselves 'Hendonbury', a nod to the festivals that were happening throughout the summer in the UK but that none of us could attend due to our filming schedules. The atmosphere on set was great. I can honestly say it was the best filming experience of my career. Such fun."

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