Extending for over 700 miles, the dramatic West Country coastline is unmatched anywhere else in the UK for its diversity, spectacular scenery and coastal film location possibilities. In fact, the south-west coast proudly boasts some of the most magnificent and most unusual coastal locations ever used in film.
The Dorset & Devon Coast – Zombies, Mediterranean Beaches and Dinosaur Myths
The Dorset and Devon stretch of coast is the home of Britain’s only natural World Heritage Site – the dramatic Jurassic Coast – placing it in the same league as the Grand Canyon and Great Barrier Reef. It’s no surprise then that this part of The West Country coast has been a very popular destination for film productions over the years. Fans of zombie blockbuster World War Z will have spotted the very unique location of Lulworth Cove was used to double as the Nova Scotia refugee centre in the film. This was the impressive West Country coastal location where the film’s star Brad Pitt was taken in a boat to be reunited with his family on the beach.
This is not the first time the Dorset & Devon coast has doubled as a foreign location. When the makers of the smash hit TV show Only Fools and Horses needed a Spanish beach resort for Del and Rodney’s holiday, in the episode It Never Rains, they used Bournemouth’s famous 11-mile golden beach. Given Bournemouth beach is considered the best in the whole of the UK, with a sunnier climate than other seaside resorts, it is no surprise it has often been used to double for Italy, Spain and the South of France in various TV and film productions. While Saunton Sands in Devon, with its epic stretch of beach backing on to high sand dunes, became the perfect double for Normandy beaches in the Tom Cruise sci-fi film Edge of Tomorrow.
However, the gem of the Dorset & Devon coast has to be Durdle Door, a natural limestone arch standing in the sea, which is by far the most unusual and beautiful coastal location in the whole of The West Country. Legend has it, this rock formation is an undiscovered dinosaur that was turned into a rock – and you could certainly argue it looks a little bit like a dinosaur with its head in the sea. This iconic location has been used in several films including, Wilde, Nanny McPhee, Far From the Madding Crowd and even the Bollywood film Houseful. 80s music fans will also recognise the location from Tears for Fears, Big Country, and Billy Ocean music videos. Whether you buy the dinosaur myth or not, this incredible location will certainly enrich any film coastal scene.
Further along this coast, you will find the white chalk cliffs that welcomed home the rescued soldiers at the end of Christopher Nolan’s war epic Dunkirk. What is most remarkable about the Dorset coast is how just a short distance along the coast from here, the white chalk cliffs give way to glorious rolling golden cliff tops, creating the feel of an entirely different world. Here, fans of popular crime TV show Broadchurch will recognise the real star of the show – the spectacular cliffs of West Bay. Cross over the nearby border into Devon and you will find the setting for sailing adventure The Mercy, starring Colin Firth, which was filmed along the Teignmouth coast.
The Cornwall Coast – Smuggler Coves, Mayan Worlds and North Korean Military Bases
Cornwall is considered to be one of Britain’s most stunning coastal counties, so it is hardly surprising many film productions have come to this area for their coastal locations. With its famous rugged cliffs and tin mining ruins, the Cornwall coast turned out to be the central attraction for the recent TV swashbuckling drama Poldark. From Hitchcock’s Jamaica Inn to Treasure Island to Pirates of the Caribbean, because of its abundance of coves and craggy cliffs, the Cornish coast has often been the go-to location for any period film set in the world of smuggling and skulduggery.
Due to its stunning setting of sandy beaches, blue waters and white cliffs, Cornwall’s Carlyon Bay has proved a popular coastal location for many notable film productions. Mel Gibson set his sights on this beach to film dramatic scenes in his epic Mayan adventure Apocalypto. Nearby Holywell Bay was the location for the intense opening beach scenes for James Bond blockbuster Die Another Day. This is where Bond surfed to land on a giant wave to a stretch of Cornish beach that doubled as a fortified North Korean military base.
It’s not just all smuggling sagas and action adventures, as many famous British comedy films and TV shows have also made use of Cornwall’s cliffs and coastlines. The much loved farcical film Saving Grace heavily featured the aesthetically pleasing coastal locations of Boscastle, Trebarwith and the picturesque Port Isaac. The former was also the setting for the popular TV comedy drama Doc Martin. One of the UK’s most popular comedy films, the Slapstick comedy hit Johnny English, made good use of the coast around the small tidal island of St Michael’s Mount.
The Somerset Coast – Royal Speeches and Period Dramas
With some of the highest cliffs in England and one of the longest stretches of sands in Europe, the sweeping Somerset coastline has also drawn its fair share of film productions over the years. When the makers of historical drama Elizabeth: The Golden Age needed the perfect coastal vantage point they used Somerset’s Brean Down. Standing at 318 feet, this was the breath-taking location for Cate Blanchett’s rousing speech to her troops as they prepared to battle the approaching Spain Armada. Somerset’s coastline has proved popular with other period dramas as Remains of the Day and The Duchess both filmed scenes on this stunning section of The West Country coast.
Your Coastal Film Location
The UK south-west coast offers an abundance of incredible coastal and cliff filming location possibilities. The good news for your production is thanks to our “on the ground” local knowledge and extensive filming experience, every area of this cinematic coast can now be made accessible for your filming needs.