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Unique backdrops through time: London venue for filming

Posted on 09 February, 2021

Exterior of Tottenham Court Station near London filming location

From the 50s & 60s to the modern day.

With venues looking like they’ll have to remain closed for a little bit longer, that means the activities we’re able to host are limited to essential education and training events, alongside photography and film productions.

We know that across London there’s been an increase in venues being used for film shoots, and for good reason. Not only can studios find almost every backdrop and setting imaginable somewhere in the city, but these are places that have some of the best COVID-safety plans in the country.

It’s still as important as ever to make sure we’re all working safely, no matter your line of work. So, it only makes sense that film and photography crews are picking places that can ensure any risk is minimised – ourselves included.

Congress Centre has been used for several productions in recent years and is popular for its choice of rare features, mid-century styles and unique contemporary settings. But it’s often the variety of options that makes our 1950s filming location so appealing.

Take a look at what we mean and let us take you through time by exploring a selection of our most popular rooms and spaces…

Council Chamber

BBCs MotherFatherSon scene filmed at London filming location Congress Centre

Starting in the 1950s, our Council Chamber is one of the largest spaces and retains many features from when the venue was originally built during the same decade.

Floor to ceiling windows, high ceilings, and stunning, original wooden panelling gives the chamber a true vintage feel. Whilst today the space is packed with modern AV features, it can all be hidden to create a genuine 1950s setting – perfect for those looking for the right backdrop to imitate the period.

This mid-century space isn’t limited to making appearances in historical productions, however. Recently, it’s been used in modern-day dramas including the BBC’s MotherFatherSon and the film Our Kind of Traitor. It’s just as exciting to see this space used in the 21st century as it is when it’s taken back in time to the 50s and 60s.

Congress Hall and stage

Modern blank canvas space at london venue for filming Congress Centre

The Congress Hall is the largest space at our London venue and offers a unique combination of contemporary character and original 1950s features. 

As you walk in from the Foyer, it’s impressive space-frame ceiling is usually the first thing that catches people’s eye. It allows for natural daylight without the risk of glare or flares being caught on-camera and can be totally blacked-out for full lighting and ambience control too.

This flexibility makes it an uber-convenient choice for productions that need to film a scene under both natural and controlled lighting.

It’s a large blank canvas space which makes it ideal for all kinds of shoots, but particularly for those that benefit from a stage such as pre-recorded talk shows, podcast recordings and even gameshows! With the main action on the Hall’s large stage up-front, the space has capacity for a 500-person audience (when operating in normal times) making it a great choice for shows looking to get out of the studio and increase their live attendee numbers.

As an alternative use, this month it was transformed into a socially distanced catering space to accommodate a large (and hungry) film crew. Tables were set up with screens and chairs to best protect the crew whilst making full use of the space. It was one of the most unique uses of the Hall that our team had ever arranged!

Social distanced catering set-up for a large film crew at London filming venue for hire

Marble Hall

This is a true one-of-a-kind space with a serious camera presence. The Marble Hall’s floor looks down on a view of the Congress Hall’s ceiling which is made up of 172 glass hexagons, set in soft lead. In the centre, one of Sir Jacob Epstein’s most famous statues is impossible to miss – a heart wrenching depiction of a women holding a dying soldier, her son.

This humbling artwork in this unique setting is what creates such an atmospheric backdrop. Whilst the gravity certainly comes across on film, it really needs to be seen in person to be appreciated.

A scene from the The Crown filmed at Congress Centre, a popular London venue for filming

Most recently, the Marble Hall has made appearances in the popular Netflix drama, The Crown, and in the 2017 film Our Crooked House. It’s a great choice for any production looking to create a dramatic entrance scene. 

Outside the Lobby and Underground

The front of Congress Centre is actually fairly inconspicuous and includes an entrance to the building’s private underground car park, making it well suited to any production planning a scene in this kind of setting.

Despite its central London location, privacy is relatively easy to secure as this side of the building is located on a quiet side street with scarce interruptions. Plus, private underground car parks like this are few and far between, so it’s rare to find one like this for hire.

The BBC’s heavy drama Hard Sun was the last production to get exclusive access to the space, using both the car park and Dyott Street running outside of the lobby for the gritty night-time scene.

Foyer and Registration Area

Now we’re here in the modern day, the foyer and registration area of our London filming venue is a great fit for any production with a need to capture people waiting to be called into an office or meeting, as well as for more general indoor shots.

interior shot of the foyer at modern London filming venue Congress Centre

Contemporary interiors including 103” plasma screen TVs and bold, white reception desks means it looks right at home in any film, TV or photoshoot set in the present day. As it usually serves as a registration area for events, it also has a sizable cloakroom and toilet facilities nearby too – good to know (just in case!).

The registration area’s most recent TV appearance was in the BBC’s popular comedy-drama Killing Eve, as British Intelligence top-dog Carolyn heads to meet her own boss after a careless mistake was made.

Bonus fact: This tense meeting between Fiona Shaw and Zoë Wanamaker was filmed in our distinctive Council Chamber. We think it was pretty convincingly dressed-up to look just like a private office.

Hire a London venue for filming

We hope this has given you a bit of inspiration on ways our spaces could provide the just right backdrop for your next shoot. If you’ve found yourself with questions or simply want to discuss some ideas, our knowledgeable team would love to have a chat and see what we can do.

With full details on our contact page, you can reach the team on 020 7467 1318 or at congress.centre@tuc.org.uk.