It is difficult to write about something 5 months after. For one, I can hardly remember how I got to the Film Park. But I still remember how it happened, I’ve read about this place in Shanghai where many movies were shot, especially the ones that depict Shanghai pre World War II, and for completeness sake, let’s just place that in the 1930s. I can recall Kung Fu Hustle. So, there was no real direction available on the internet, and I had the GPS coordinates only. I remembered taking the Shanghai metro to the southwest, changed into a bus, a wrong bus, and then having to walk a bit and one more bus before I got to within 1km of the park by GPS.
As of writing, maps of China on Google Maps has to be viewed in map view and no satellite. There is a little 500m offset on it. I did a little internet sleuthing and came up with this address, copied and pasted (shall I say plagiarized?) without much though:
Shanghai Film Park, Chedun Town, 4915 Beisong Gong Lu, near Cheting Gong Lu
Coordinates: 31.01228, 121.31037
Now that I have, hopefully, given enough instructions to get there, let me first start by saying that this is one of the hidden gems in Shanghai. Sure, the internet has plenty of day tours, but do you REALLY need a tour guide in a movie studio? I was there late in the afternoon, and there was a movie that was being shot at that time. I can’t imagine another studio where you could just walk up to the set, and watch the film crew doing their stuff.
There is an entry fee, but it is a pittance, a little less than lunch for a tourist. Since a local can eat for less than 10RMB I’d make that clear first. I can’t recall the entrance fee, lets just say its between 10-15RMB at the most. Could even be less.
Immediately to the left of the entrance is a building that seems to suggest they have performances there. I can’t imagine dances and so on happening. I was out of time and I have absolutely no interest in something offtopic when I’m visiting this place for the set. I came with 2 Leica Rangefinders, a M2 loaded with Tri-X which unfortunately, was fogged so the frames looked strange (which would be all the black and white pictures you see here). The second was a Leica M6 loaded with Kodachrome 200. This partly explains why it took 5 months to write this post. With Kodachrome, I had to mail it to Kansas (that would be KS) and wait for it to come back before I could scan.
Continuing on, the first would be the giant reconstruction of Nanjing Road in the 1930s. These are actual buildings, but quite obviously close up they look like they’ve been built recently, and the workmanship looks crude closeup. That would be my expectation of a movie set anyway. There is even the Nanjing Rd road sign. I’ve been in Shanghai in years, and I would consider myself quite familiar with anatomy of downtown Shanghai, and I can conclude that this scale reproduction does not follow the actual city center. I mean, Suzhou Creek does not run perpendicular to Nanjing Rd. There is a smaller scale version of the metal framed Waibaidu bridge on Daming Rd spanning Suzhou creek. I noticed that there is even a tram track around. I did see some pictures of a working tram in this set, but I did not see it during the trip.
Wandering around, I explored the other set. I saw sets of old villages, and sets that are purely facades with supporting columns behind. By far the largest set would be the Nanjing Rd 1930s set, and perhaps the most permanent one as well. Wandering to the east of the sets, you’d find a full sized church there. I have no idea if this is a fully blessed and working church or just a oversized store room. Seems wedding couples love to take photos for their mega album here. That afternoon there were at least 5 groups there, group made up of bride with sneakers and wedding gown, groom with fancy tuxedo, and the makeup artist and photographer, and the quintessential guy holding up the gold reflector and remote flash.
What’s for sure, this place is a heaven for photographers. Whether you shoot architecture of you have your own model to shoot for the day. There are no shops in there, but there are fancy toilets camouflaged as the rest of the buildings in the set. So bring water, but no worries on where to expel liquid. Avoid the church if you can, that’s where the wedding photographers gather. And also the metal bridge. Somehow I prefer the real one on Daping Road. The further away you go from the fake Nanjing Rd, the less people you will encounter. You could have the whole set to yourself, but I did not see if you could shoot a movie in there illegally. When it is all done, you could look for a movie being shot and see how focused it really is. As in, you only get people where the action is (obviously) and the rest of the surrounding is like a ghost town, except for the occasional tourist. I bet they have a problem with foreign sound (like someone spitting in the background) during post-production.
Highly recommended destination. Too bad I did not record how I made my way there. But doubt anyone would want to try my long way there. Ask around, check the bus routing feature on Google Maps, do your homework. I think it’s worth it.