The fourth and final ‘I Love Filming In England’ short, created in partnership with The GREAT Britain Campaign, looks at how Disney’s ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’ found its magical and timeless locations in England.
Disney’s latest blockbuster was based at Shepperton Studios in Middlesex and featured a mix of London and regional locations. The video below shows how the production utilised our amazing backdrops and integrated some of England’s stunning locations into this fantastical tale.
‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’ picks up the story of Alice Kingsleigh as a young woman and captain of her late father’s ship, the Wonder. On returning from a voyage to China, she finds out that all is not well in Wonderland and that her old friend, the Mad Hatter, needs her help. Alice has to go back in time to try and prevent a disaster befalling the Hatter’s family and so begins another epic adventure where she meets friends and foes old and new and races against Time to save her friend.
The movie sees Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham-Carter resuming their roles as Alice, the Mad Hatter and the Queen of Hearts, respectively, and introduces the new character of Time played by Sacha Baron-Cohen.
Where Was ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’ Filmed?
Many of the grand houses an institutions featured in the film were found in London (eg at Central St Martin’s and the Benjamin Franklin Museum), but the production looked further afield for some specific locations. Horsley Towers in Surrey was used to double as a Victorian asylum, and the Ascot mansion, where Alice attends a party and finds a gateway into Wonderland, is played by two regional locations: Ditchley Park in Oxfordshire for the exteriors whilst Syon House in Middlesex provided the opulent interiors. Says director, James Bobin:
“The Ascot mansion had to have a number of things. It had to have a greenhouse, it had to have a long corridor, it had to have a dining room, it had to have a ballroom. And there aren’t that many country houses that can fulfil all those things and Syon House did so and looked spectacular on camera.”
Central to the film’s plot is Alice’s role as the captain of her father’s ship and whether she and her mother have enough money to enable her to pursue this rather unorthodox career. The film’s opening scene features Alice navigating the Wonder through perilous seas to return to London from her expedition to China. Arriving at the docks, our heroine meets her mother and is forced to confront a decision about her future.
The production need to recreate London’s bustling Victorian docks. This meant finding a quayside in a controlled environment: rising and falling tides are not conducive to an easy shoot! The perfect solution presented itself in the form of Gloucester Docks, just two hours’ drive from the production’s base at Shepperton and surrounded by authentic period warehouses and features.
England’s locations are often used to double for other cities, countries or periods of time. New York is frequently recreated in the North West of the country. The streets of Liverpool, for example, are often seen doubling for Manhattan (Pathe International’s Florence Foster Jenkins, Paramount’s Captain America: The First Avenger, Lionsgate’s Genius and Warner Bros. Ent Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them), and Manchester is used as a double for Brooklyn (Paramount’s Captain America: The First Avenger). For a broader taste of the doubles possibilities offered up by England’s regions, take a look at our locations doubles book, This is England.
How did Creative England’s Production Services Team Assist ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’?
Creative England’s Production Services team were on hand to support ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’ from the outset by providing location suggestions and helping to build relationships with local authorities.
Our ‘I Love Filming In…’ shorts have been created in partnership with The Great Britain Campaign to highlight the wealth of filming locations available in England.
Our Production Services Team have a national database of studios and filming locations, to register your property or search our database, click here.
Our Team also provide TV and film productions of all sizes, crew and facilities from our database. To upload your CV or to post job vacancies, click here.