Looking for Somewhere to Film your Apocalyptic, Zombie-Infested, Dystopic Sci-Fi Movie? Why not try Stoke-on-Trent?

So, the dystopic science fiction film, "The Girl With All the Gifts", recently opened to largely favourable reviews in UK cinemas. The film stars, among others, Glenn Close, Gemma Arterton, Paddy Considine and newcomer Sennia Nanua. It's set in the near future where humanity has been ravaged by a fungal disease, with those affected losing their ability to think freely, eventually turning into flesh-eating, zombie-like creatures known by survivors as "hungries". The only hope for humanity's survival is a small group of hybrid children who also crave human flesh, but somehow retain their ability to feel and think.
The movie has been widely advertised and, as I have said, has garnered several favourable reviews, some calling it an unusually intelligent addition to the zombie genre. However, what you may not know is that a small portion of the film was shot right here in my home city of Stoke-on-Trent. A few years back our city centre, Hanley, acquired a new bus station, leaving the old one largely derelict, and it was here that the film makers came to shoot. It seems that this barren, urban wasteland was exactly the sort of place that location scouts thought suitable for the post-apocalypse environment of the movie. I know that with my own love for cinema I should have been proud and excited to have such people visit our city, but I can't help but wonder what this says about our once fair home. Indeed, although the majority of the movie was shot throughout the Midlands, the fact that the film makers also chose the Russian district of Chernobyl as a location for shooting doesn't exactly fill one with confidence. The area known most famously for its nuclear disaster and radiation-infected land indeed still looks like a bomb hit it, and that Stoke was thought of as somehow comparable doesn't say much for its own aesthetic qualities.
I have written before in this blog of how Stoke-on-Trent was a once thriving industrial area, but which has now become a largely run-down, deprived place, sorely in need of inward investment and regeneration. We have many problems with poverty, unemployment and illness, and indeed, I can think of times when I have actually thought that some parts of Stoke look like they've come out of some kind of post-apocalyptic nightmare. The people, although not uniformly, often look ill and visibly poor. Many carry walking sticks, crutches or use mobility scooters. Perhaps, upon seeing Stoke and its residents, the makers of "The Girl With All the Gifts" felt that maybe they'd save some money on special effects and make-up! OK, so maybe that is a bit unfair, but the fact remains that if you're looking for somewhere to film your apocalyptic, zombie-infested, dystopic sci-fi movie, Stoke-on-Trent may be all too suitable.          


bazza said…
The wonderful Simon Pegg/Nick Frost zombie movie, The World's End, was principally shot in Letchworth, Hertfordshire, which is a lovely place. I'm sure the 'devastation' parts were shot in a studio though! I've never been to Stoke so, to paraphrase, Wittgenstein "whereof I do not know, thereof I shall not speak".
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