The films set and/or located in Glasgow are of consistently high quality. Although, this fact is not really as widely known as it should be. The talents of Ken Loach, Peter Mullan and David Mackenzie have meant Glasgow’s film output has been fairly limited to the bleak, kitchen sink social realism that was also produced from the working class cities in England of Sheffield, Manchester and Birmingham but the quality hasn’t faltered. In recent years, Glasgow’s lack of hugely iconic buildings (though no less beautiful and diverse) has meant that Hollywood has come a-knocking for the city to stand in for places around America.
Here’s a list Glasgow film locations that are fairly recent (so the locations still exist!) that you can visit and imagine yourself living in a run down estate surrounded by domestic violence, gangs and sometimes even creatures from the beyond! And you may have to watch with subtitles depending on your familiarity with the Glaswegian Scottish dialect. Enjoy!
Glasgow Film Locations
My Name Is Joe (1998)
Starring the gravelly Peter Mullan and directed by coveted British director Ken Loach, My Name is Joe is as gritty as they come. The title alludes to the cliched greeting used in Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, of which Joe is one. The film was shot around council estates in Glasgow, using residents (some were former addicts themselves) as extras.
Young Adam (2002)
Whilst Young Adam was filmed all over Scotland from West Lothian to West Dunbartonshire, it was set and partly filmed in Glasgow. Ewan McGregor plays the titular character who works on a barge from the River Clyde in Glasgow along the Forth & Clyde and Union canals to Edinburgh.
Sweet Sixteen (2002)
When I first watched Sweet Sixteen, I had absolutely no idea what the characters were saying. The accents were that broad. Luckily, context and a lot of physicality meant it didn’t matter. Sweet Sixteen is another by Ken Loach and depicts the events in a teenage boy’s life up until his sixteenth birthday. With a rough and poor upbringing, the film was set in Inverclyde which is not technically part of Glasgow, but is considered ‘Greater Glasgow’ by some Glasweigans.
The term ‘Neds’ is a colloquial name for petty young criminals or hooligans. Basically, what the English might call ‘chavs.’ It’s set in the 1970s and follows the life of one young, bright boy, however his background and friendship group stunts his potential. Directed by Scottish actor Peter Mullan, he based the film on his own experiences and used his old neighbourhood Cardonald as the film’s primary location. He used the Lourdes Avenue area in particular which has parts that haven’t changed since the 1970s.
God Help The Girl (2013)
Moving away from narratives centred on the life of one troubled male, God Help The Girl was directed by Belle and Sebastian’s Stuart Murdoch. On keeping with the musical theme, it even sports it’s own musical soundtrack. The film used Rio Cafe in Glasgow and vintage shop Mr Ben’s Retro Clothing for the scene where Eve and Anton play dress up and is a Glasgow institution among certain crowds.
World War Z (2013)
Stepping in for Apocalyptic Philadelphia, Brad Pitt helmer World War Z used George Square to capture the vibe of the North Eastern US city without the expenses. Other filming locations around Glasgow include Cadogan Street and Bothwell Street.
Under The Skin (2013)
Even more bizarre than the film’s alien-focused narrative is the fact that Scarlett Johansson could film around Glasgow with minimum recognition from any of the locals. However, that might have had something to do with the brunette wig. The film was shot all around Glasgow and the outskirts including the Buchanan Galleries, Celtic Park, George Street and George Square.
Other notable films that used Glasgow film locations: Shallow Grave (1994), Trainspotting (1995), Not Another Happy Ending (2013), Small Faces (1966), Doomsday (2008) and Donkeys (2010)
Have you watched any of these films set in Glasgow?