LOCATIONS FEATURE 1

Season three of “The Last Ship”, right from the start, showed that it was a different animal from the first two seasons. It was almost a sequel to the original premise, rather than a continuation of the same story, and, while some fans were unhappy at the direction in which the show was headed, there was an undeniable frisson of excitement at the world-building being witnessed on screen.

THE LAST SHIP – SEASON 3 TRAILER

While season one dipped in and out of other countries as the mission dictated it, season two was set exclusively in the USA. Season three, on the contrary, saw the action split firmly between St Louis and Asia: China, Vietnam, and the islands of the South China Sea. Of course, the cast and crew didn’t up sticks to south-east Asia for filming, so it came down to the skills and expertise of the location scouts, set decorators and art department to make sure that we were immersed in what was effectively a whole other world. As such, not only were new sets built at Culver Studios, but new, and perhaps surprising, locations were found and dressed to make sure that the experience the viewer has is immersive.

In this series of articles, we reveal to you some of the more notable locations used throughout the season, and, coming soon, we have some exclusive video interviews about these locations!

THE ST LOUIS WHITEHOUSE

In episode one, “The Scott Effect”, we are properly introduced to the St Louis Whitehouse. Its frontage might be recognisable to the movie buffs out there: the building used for the exteriors is most famous for its appearance as the stunning mansion belonging to Rhett Butler in the classic 1939 movie “Gone With The Wind”! Situated on the Culver Studios lot itself, the mansion is visible from the road, and is instantly recognisable from its sweeping lawns and columned frontage.

culver studios

credit: theculverstudios.com

Perhaps more interestingly, the mansion itself, home to production offices and a viewing room, among other facilities, was investigated in 2012 by the Paranormal Housewives, who tabled the question of whether it might be the most haunted site ever. If their experiences are anything to go by, and coupled with reports from cast and crew of various movies and TV shows, things that go bump in the night are a regular occurrence here!

PENG’S MANSION



Another stunning location we see early in “The Scott Effect”, is President Peng’s mansion, ostensibly in China. Another interior, it is somewhat easier to dress a set such as this than an outdoor location. However, finding the right kind of location, if you’re not building a fixed set, presents its own challenges.

Peng’s mansion, for example, is opulent and apparently vast, with strong security, and a very specific, almost European style. While we cannot share the exact location, we can tell you that it is a private residence in the Beverly Hills area, bearing the prestigious 90210 zip code. It also has the honour of having been one of the most expensive properties on the market in the area in the past few years!

With its exterior a mix of classic and modern architecture, it is a relatively recent construction, the original house having burned to the ground in 1980 after a failed burglary. The lot remained vacant for over 20 years, before the lot was split, and the next door property was built in 2010. This mansion was finally completed in 2015. The mansion is known for its opulent styling and light, airy rooms. The mansion has also recently been seen in “Agents of SHIELD”, if you thought it looked familiar. If you fancy living there, though, you’d better have deep pockets – it is on the market for a cool $65 million!

GALLERY – PENG’S MANSION IN ‘THE SCOTT EFFECT’



CHINESE AIRFIELD


Also throughout the season premiere, we see a Chinese airfield, firstly when Chandler arrives, to be greeted by Wolf, and then again at the end of the episode, when he decides not to get on the plane back to the USA. We see precious few details, especially with the latter scene having been shot at night. However, these scenes were filmed at Camarillo Airport, in Ventura County, California.

Camarillo Airport has a long history with the military, having served the nearby Oxnard Air Force Base from 1951 until its closure in 1971. The airport was then bought by Ventura County, and serves as a private airfield, with no scheduled commercial services. The airport has been used in an episode of “24”, and the music video for Anastacia’s song “Cowboys & Kisses” was filmed here in 2001.

GALLERY – CAMARILLO AIRPORT



IRRADIATED ZONE (JESSIE’S HELO)

In “Rising Sun”, we see the story rooted in south-east Asia. The hostages are on a ship somewhere in the South China Sea, and Chandler, Sasha, Jesse, Green and Burk Jr are effectively on the run. This gave the writers and producers something to sink their teeth into in terms of locations, and, once the episodes were written, it came down to the art department to bring the locations to life.

GALLERY – HYPERION WATER PLANT IN ‘RISING SUN’



In the scene where Chandler, Sasha and Jesse go to collect Jesse’s helicopter, she says it is stored in an irradiated zone. Well, far from it being an irradiated zone, where this was filmed was close to one of south LA’s most popular beaches! The Hyperion Water Reclamation Plant, just south of LAX, is tucked away just behind Dockweiler Beach, is and oldest and largest wastewater treatment facility in the city. Operational since 1894, it has been expanded multiple times, in response to the growth of the city’s population.

From the street, the plant looks more like a series of high-tech offices or factories than a sewage treatment plant. However, it is perhaps this slightly otherworldly quality that made it perfect to represent a post-apocalyptic wasteland, and a credit to the production that the nearby busy roads of Vista Del Mar and West Imperial Highway, which flank the plant, were neither visible nor audible in the scenes!

DOCK YARDS

Photo Credit: Doug Hyun

We also see Green and Burk Jr on the run, kicking ass and taking names! The docks sequence, where they steal the boat, was filmed at San Pedro, south of Los Angeles, where a lot of filming for the show takes place. Also at San Pedro, very close by, is a boat shop where we see Green and Burk Jr taking on the pirates, and Burk Jr ends up going through a window. Backwards. While shooting. Pretty awesome stuff.

SHANZHAI

Photo Credit: Doug Hyun

“Shanzhai” sees the primary action shift to south-east Asia, and we see the introduction of two bold new sets. The first is Shanzhai itself, a pirate town in China. To build a set of this magnitude would have been impossible in the short turnaround time required for episodic TV, so the location scouts found a ready-made town, up in the mountains of Santa Clarita, north of Los Angeles.

The Blue Cloud Movie Ranch provided the perfect backdrop for the lawless town, and, with careful set dressing, became something completely new. The set in question has also been used in “Iron Man 3”, “Arrested Development” and “Agents of SHIELD”, to name just a few. With careful set dressing, camera angles and lighting, you’d have to look hard to realise they are the same set.

GALLERY – BLUE CLOUD RANCH SET IN ‘SHANZHAI’



THE PIRATE VILLAGE

Also in Santa Clarita, we find the location used for the pirate village, which we also see for the first time in “Shanzhai”. The set required some very specific facilities, including a river, lush greenery, and a clearing where a village could be built. It was a tall order, but the location scouts managed to hit paydirt with Sanna Movie Ranch. A river, clearing, bamboo, a jungle… what more could you want when you’re trying to recreate south-east Asia?

THE PIRATE VILLAGE IN ‘SHANZHAI’



The huts were all built by the production team, and left in place until filming was completed. However, there are some little touches that only nature can provide. The huts were left over the Christmas and new year break, and, when the crew returned, there was moss, mould and a certain patina on the constructions that would have been impossible to fake. This was left in place, as it made the huts look older and more dilapidated than they actually were!

While episode four, “Devil May Care”, doesn’t give us any new locations, we see plenty more of the pirate village, and more of Peng’s mansion, especially the outside as it is stormed by Vulture team. This was all shot in the vicinity of the mansion used for Peng’s palace. The pirate village was extensively shot once more at Sanna Movie Ranch, in freezing temperatures, which Kevin Michael Martin called “brutal”, so much so that it was a relief to get back to the sound stage a few weeks later!

So that just about covers all the locations in the first four episodes of season three – keep your eyes peeled for our next article in the series, which will cover episodes five to eight! We’ll also be bringing you some very special insights into the locations from season three, with some unique video interviews coming soon.

Also, please bear in mind that none of the locations named in this article are open to visitors, so please don’t try to gain access!

A special thank you to Jeffrey Kushon for his help in researching this article.

    


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