Visit Famous Essex Film Locations

West Thurrock St Clements Church

Essex has been used as the setting for several of Hollywood’s biggest films. From Brannigan to World War Z, when you visit Essex you’ll tread the same streets as some of cinema’s leading stars.

Four Weddings and a Famous Backdrop

West Thurrock St Clements ChurchWhen people think of famous filming locations in the United Kingdom (UK), many will immediately have thoughts of London and the South Coast. But if you think’s all that the UK has to offer when it comes film locations you would be very much mistaken.

It took the 1990s by storm and was a mega-hit on both sides of the Atlantic, Four Weddings and a Funeral was a heartfelt comedy that won one for the Brits at the Academy Awards in 1994. The film was shot all around UK, but arguably its most famous scene took place in West Thurrock. St Clements Church was the backdrop for Gareth’s funeral and John Hannah’s rousing poem recital. While the 12th century building is no longer a functioning church, film fans can still visit the area to see the stunning architecture and surrounds.

Cinema on Cinema

State Cinema in Grays
State Cinema on George Street

Just a short drive away from St Clements Church is Grays, more specifically the State Cinema on George Street. Built in the 1930s, it was once a leading example of modern British architecture.

Those who love film will remember it fondly as a backdrop in the 1988 film Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

The film merged live action and animation in front of the 1930s film auditorium stage, showcasing the State Cinema to the world through several iconic scenes.

All-Action Heroes

John Wayne at Tilbury Docks
John Wayne at Tilbury Docks

Tilbury has always had a strong connection to Hollywood, but it is Tilbury Docks that has commanded the most attention.

John Wayne was the first major name to bring his star power to the waterfront, as the 1975 classic Brannigan was filmed there, but that wouldn’t be the only time Tilbury docks would appear on the silver screen.

Seeing the appeal of the docks, the area would be made iconic when it became the backdrop of a high-speed boat race in the 1989 action adventure film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Most recently, the docks would be transformed into an area of Gotham City for the Oscar nominated Batman Begins.

Reservoir to Reformatory

Copyright Paul Franks and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.World War Z has become a modern day zombie classic and Essex had a big part to play in its success. Essex and Suffolk Water’s site at Hanningfield Reservoir, near Chelmsford, was given the true Hollywood treatment, as it was transformed into a South Korean prison for the movie.

Legendary actor Brad Pitt filmed at the site for two weeks and helped cement Essex as one of the prime filming locations in the United Kingdom.

Think Film, Think Essex

The UK has been influencing the world of cinema for over eighty years, but if you think all these films got their backdrops from London think again.

Essex is the unheralded backbone of filming locations in the UK. Next time you find yourself in the east, why not visit some famous Essex film locations? You might be surprised at what you’ll discover. As well as major film production companies filming, you may spot Trapdoor Films, one of Essex’s up-and-coming film makers.

Film Credits ….

Hanningfield Reservoir photo: Copyright Paul Franks and licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Licence.

St. Clements Church photo: Copyright David Anstiss and licensed for reuse under the CC Licence

State Cinema photo: Copyright Julian Osley, CC licence

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