Scenes from Brad Pitt’s new movie, World War Z (pronounced ‘Zee’ I’m told) are being filmed in Glasgow, which is standing in for Philadelphia. A section of the city centre around George Square has been closed to traffic and given a special makeover for the part.
Yesterday afternoon I headed for the centre of Glasgow and walked through a Hollywood film set with my camera. That’s not something you can do every day, is it? OK, Brad wasn’t around and neither was Angelina, but it was still a lot of fun.
Philadelphia is a city I know pretty well. I’ve been over about a dozen times over the years and can see the logic for my home city doubling for the City of Brotherly Love. The architecture of the two cities is similar, the grid pattern of the streets is almost identical and both have a square featuring the main civic headquarters at their heart.
So if you take Glasgow and repaint the roads, replace the familiar street signs with Philly ones, then fill the streets with yellow cabs, PAPD vehicles and the odd fire truck you really could be on the streets of Philadelphia.
Glasgow has scored a major coup by bringing Brad Pitt and co. to this side of the Atlantic. And the filming will bring several million pounds into the city’s economy. A few streets may be closed but we can live with that for a couple of weeks.
But on the other side of the pond they are not happy at all. Philadelphia lost out to Glasgow for the filming for financial reasons, leaving many bitter. The Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper has said that says the decision cost the city tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue and hundreds of jobs.
And the Inquirer also noted that JFK Plaza has been reconstructed in George Square, which was named after George III, the monarch whose intransigence over taxes sparked the American War of Independence.
“The very despot Philadelphia led the Revolution against,” the newspaper observed sourly.
Whatever the politics and historical ironies, Glasgow looks good as Philly and it will be great to watch the film when it comes out, knowing exactly where some of the scenes have been filmed.
Here’s a link to some more pictures of the film set: