LOCATIONS FEATURE 3


We’ve looked at the first half of season three’s locations, finding great diversity in how the crew create and build the worlds we see on screen. So far, we’ve seen everything from a pirate village in the jungle, to a lawless town, to a presidential palace. It’s safe to say that season three took us on a fairly wild ride in its first half.

Season three’s middle episode, “In The Dark”, was a classic “bottle” episode: almost entirely taking place on the Nathan James itself, we were treated to different views and angles on the sets we all know and love, and under very different circumstances.

#308 – SEA CHANGE

While “In The Dark”, is arguably one of the finest hours of TV of 2016, it didn’t give us anything new in the way of locations. However, episode eight, “Sea Change”, brought us a wealth of new sights and sounds, making a concerted effort to set the scene in a dangerous part of south-east Asia.

MAMA MING’S HOUSE

Firstly, and what is possibly the most unusual and interesting location we see throughout the season, is Mama Ming’s house. Seedy and rundown, it was almost stereotypical in terms of what you expect of an Asian drug den! At first glance, you might think it is a set at Culver, but you’d be mistaken. The location is actually a 100-year old former brothel in downtown Los Angeles close to Skid Row! Situated on East 7th Street, and the intersection with Imperial Street, its unprepossessing appearance hides its somewhat surprising history.

Owned and operated by Imperial Art Studios, it is one of eleven properties they own in the area, providing a diverse range of locations which are hired out for filming, photoshoots and private events. Little is known of the history of the building, but, looking at photographs of the undressed set, it’s not difficult to imagine a bordello in the 1910s and 1920s, operating on the fringes of what was then Los Angeles’ largest red-light district. Now, it is in a prominent position in the Arts District, close to the Los Angeles River.

The area is notable for its low rise buildings, the old Ford factory, and, more recently, the colourful graffiti decorating the area. It is easy to forget that this area is also notorious for its homeless population, and tents and makeshift shelters are dotted throughout its streets. It is perhaps one of the last bastions against gentrification left in Los Angeles, and this contributes to its rundown, Bohemian vibe.

GALLERY – TRURO BUILDING (FORMER BROTHEL)



In the scene where Danny and Sasha are lining up their shots, in the background behind Mama Ming’s house you can see a bridge. This is the famous 6th Street Viaduct, which was demolished in 2016 due to potential seismic instability, and will be replaced by a new structure.

GALLERY – MAMA MING’S HOUSE – ‘SEA CHANGE’



However, “The Last Ship” isn’t the only production to have used the brothel, with a music video from the band Korn being one of the more famous uses of the location. It is also possible, on occasion, to be taken on a tour of the brothel, with Cartwheel Art and Atlas Obscura both running tours of the area on occasion.

SPIRIT MOTOR YACHT

Also of note in “Sea Change” is the boat used by the drugs smuggler. Described by Danny as “a 120ft pleasure cruiser”, he wasn’t quite right! Far from being called the ANU, the boat used is a 90ft party boat that operates out of San Pedro, called Spirit.

All identifying markings on the boat were covered to allow the craft to serve as the ANU, and the inside was largely untouched, with only minor changes being made to an otherwise almost empty space to turn it into a smuggler’s dream. However, there are little hints in the episode as to the boat’s true identity, including the lifebelts, which are marked with “Spirit” when they’re removed from under the seats in the cabin.

The boat is available for public use, both on harbour and pleasure cruises, or to hire for parties, weddings and the like, find out more at: www.spiritmarine.com

GALLERY – SPIRIT, ‘SEA CHANGE’



 

#309 – PARADISE

“Paradise”, episode nine, also brought us a number of new locations, not least the island of Paraiso, which is purported to be off the south China coast, and a home to refugees from all over the South China Sea. If you look carefully, though, in some of the wide shots, you can see Los Angeles in the background.

So where, exactly, is it?

FORT MACARTHUR

Fort MacArthur, in San Pedro, was used as the island. With its batteries, the former US Army post, which was active from 1914 – 1974, was built to protect the port of Los Angeles, and it is perched on the cliffside, overlooking the harbour at San Pedro. It is now a working museum, which was established in 1985, and is housed in the corridors and galleries of historic Battery Osgood-Farley.

GALLERY – FORT MACARTHUR



The old military structures and the surrounding buildings give a real old world vibe to the episode, and make a perfect backdrop for the secret bomb-making installation. Also at Fort MacArthur is the military hospital set seen in the episode. It is rare that such a natural location is found to perfectly match the requirements of a production, but Fort MacArthur seemed to be an perfect fit for Paraiso.

The museum is open to the public if you wish to visit: http://www.ftmac.org

VIDEO – BTS FILMING AT FORT MACARTHUR

WHITE HOUSE UNDERGROUND PARKING LOT

The White House car park is an easy find, but not accessible to the public – this was one of the underground car parks at Culver Studios itself, a mere stone’s throw from the sound stage.

USS NATHAN JAMES – HELO DECK

We also saw the deck of a real ship, filmed down in San Diego on board the Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108). Green screen was used to create the effect of being out at sea.

Find out more about the real Ships used for filming here.

KARA’S HOUSE

Episode ten, “Scuttle”, also threw us some juicy bones in terms of locations. For the first time, we get to see where Danny and Kara Green call “home”. It’s a quaint, traditional, single storey house on a tree lined avenue. A private residence, we can’t tell you where it is, but it is within a few minutes’ drive of the studio itself. The exterior wasn’t altered at all, even down to the property opposite that had boarded up windows in the episode – at the time, the house across the road actually was boarded up!

S & W COUNTRY DINER

Last but not least, we have the diner that Kara used to see whether Alison Shaw could be trusted. The signs said “S & W Country Diner”, and you might have thought that these signs were created for the show, but this was not the case! It’s a real diner in Culver City, just a short distance from the studio. Perfect if you fancy a bite before going on the run from Shaw’s goons. Make sure you have plenty of cash with you, though – the biggest risk here is wanting to munch your way through the entire menu!

http://www.swdiner.com

Our next location article is coming soon, covering the last three episodes of the season, and make sure you don’t miss our EXCLUSIVE video interviews talking all things location, coming soon!

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