World War Z goes to Glasgow

August 25, 2011

By David Moir

The post-apocalyptic horror novel, ‘World War Z’, by Max Brooks, has been adapted into a film starring Brad Pitt and Mireille Enos and directed by Marc Forster. It has started filming in Scotland. The set is mainly on the streets in and around George Square in Glasgow, with its open space and architecture, substituting for Philadelphia.

Road signs have been put up telling you 16th Street, J F Kennedy Boulevard and Ben Franklin Bridge are just around the corner so hopefully you feel like you are in Philly, certainly some of the tourists from the U.S. I’ve spoken to seem to give it the thumbs up.

The Brangelina bandwagon (or train as it should now be known) chartered an entire train for the journey north from London over the border to Glasgow for themselves, their children and cast and crew of the film. They arrived last week in a flurry of media attention (TV crews positioned, journalists lurking and photographers roaming) and blacked out people carriers and limousines sitting near by but with security so tight you couldn’t see a thing.

With that in mind, myself and colleagues all thought the access to the actual filming was going to be super tight, how wrong could we be?

With both Pitt and Angelina in the country, I thought it was going to be stepladders and long lenses every day. But with Angelina and the kids tucked away in a luxury estate south of Glasgow (its on private land so lets leave that to the paparazzi), it was hopefully Brad in the city center for me.

The film crew had put up large barriers to keep out onlookers and probably the peering lenses of photographers but with my trusty 6 step ladders, I could easily see over. It was game on. The first couple of days were uneventful with the same scene of a policeman smashing the wing mirror off Pitt’s car the highlight. I was beginning to think this was going to be a bit boring. Having other assignments on over the weekend, and Pitt filming at other locations, a few days past until I returned to Glasgow.

A colleague of mine phoned early Tuesday morning to say there were now hundreds of ‘extras’ in George Square and it looked as if things were hotting up. They certainly were: soldiers in armored cars, SWAT police teams nearby with shots ringing out in the air, cars crashing into each other and people running away and screaming; this was more like it.

Wednesday was great with Pitt and his co-star Enos appearing in a scene where they ran from a crashed car with the hundreds of terrified extras along the streets. Once, twice, three times… actually I lost count how many times they had filmed the scene, from different angles and with different lenses. At least it gave me a chance to move to other streets to get more shots.

Eventually the whole film crew let out a big cheer when someone with a loud speaker announced “We got the shot”. Thank goodness I thought, as I was getting cramp in my legs from being on my ladders for hours.

As yet there haven’t been any zombies involved in the filming. Zombies chasing Pitt down across George Square like a scene from a classic George A. Romero movie from the 70’s and 80’s is what I’m really hoping for. Hopefully that shouldn’t be too far away.

Zombies roaming the streets of Glasgow? Now there’s something you don’t see every day, well maybe on a Friday and Saturday night but that’s another story altogether.

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