Believe it or not, 2013’s tragic, dark humoured Scottish crime film Filth is probably the first film I watched and instantly recognised a specific film location I’d visited. Released in September, Filth was one of the first films I saw in the cinema after working at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August. And since the film is set almost entirely in Edinburgh, a lot of Filth filming locations happen to be in the city too!
Filth is originally a book by Irvine Welsh, the same dude who wrote the Trainspotting books. So you can imagine what kind of characters are involved and whether or not hard drugs are used. I get into the narrative briefly (spoiler-free) during the film locations.
I do actually remember feeling pretty chuffed with myself that I’d visited such an ‘obscure’ place on film (turns out Grassmarket isn’t really *that* obscure). Shame the first time it happened was with a depressing and gross film like Filth, but what’re you gonna do?
After visiting Edinburgh for the sixth time last month for the Edinburgh International Film Festival, I decided to re-watch the film. Kinda wish I hadn’t, it’s not a happy chappy film. But it was necessary in order to write this post of all the Filth filming locations I could recognise. So, it’s not an exhaustive list but it’s the most extensive you’ll find on the internet!
I am super interested in knowing where the Police Station featured in the film is in IRL! It’s the only one that’s really bugging me because it’s featured in the film so often and I just can’t find it, despite my efforts. If you know, do leave me a comment!
Filth Filming Locations in Edinburgh and Glasgow
1. Edinburgh Castle, Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NG
Almost at the very beginning of Filth, James McAvoy’s character Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson makes the grandest of entrances. Hands in pockets, he swaggers through the gates of Edinburgh Castle and continues his journey down Edinburgh’s High Street which is also known as the Royal Mile.
2. Victoria Street/West Bow, Edinburgh EH1 2HG
Robertson continues his journey right of the Royal Mile and onto my favourite street in Edinburgh, Victoria Street. So I suppose this makes this one of my favourite Filth filming locations and we’ve not even watched the film for 5 minutes! Victoria Street is a curved street on a hill with multi-coloured independent shops and restaurants – just a gorgeous part of a gorgeous city! Victoria Street eventually becomes West Bow the closer you get to the bottom of the hill.
3. Grassmarket, Edinburgh EH1 2JU
Next, on this delightful tour of Edinburgh’s Old Town, Robertson ends up queuing at an atm/cashpoint at the far end of Grassmarket away from West Bow. You know, where he steals a little kid’s yellow balloon (albeit the kid was a little sh*t) and returns his middle-finger gesture to confirm he’s an awful human being.
4. The Beresford Building, 460 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow G2 3JU
Robertson and his colleague DI Ray Lennox (played by Jamie Bell) head out to interrogate a potential witness to a murder named Ocky who also happens to be in a relationship with an underage girl. The exterior of the building where this dude lives is somewhere in the Cardonald area of Glasgow.
But the interior, with the vivid white and red walls, is the atrium of the gorgeous Beresford Building. It’s such a striking Art Deco style hotel which was renovated in the 1960s to become student accommodation for the University of Strathclyde. Since 2006, the Beresford Building is a private residence comprising of over 100 apartments.
5. Victoria Terrace, Edinburgh EH1 1AD
After kicking off his dirty scheme to sabotage his colleagues’ chances of snatching the Detective Inspector promotion from underneath him, Robertson walks down Victoria Terrace. This road is literally on top of Victoria Street, it’s like a street with two stories.
6. The Christmas Shop (The Mutts Nuts), 108 West Bow, Edinburgh EH1 2HH
Next, he’s seen back at the bottom end of Victoria Street/West Bow again peering into a Christmas shop display. This is actually really clever because Filth is set in Edinburgh just before Christmas, but The Christmas Shop is there all year round anyway. So, even if the film wasn’t shot at Christmas time it wouldn’t have mattered! Edinburgh is the perfect place for year-round Christmas shops because there are also at least two on the Royal Mile. I think The Mutts Nuts took over this particular shop but there’s still a Christmassy section.
After that, he’s back on Grassmarket taunting a homeless man and reluctantly assisting an unconscious man. Such a gentleman!
7. Park Circus, Glasgow G3 6BE
Though the film is set in Edinburgh, one of two of the film locations in Filth are in Glasgow, Robertson’s home being one of them. I know there are extremely similar streets to Park Circus in Edinburgh (Moray Place, for instance) so there’s no doubt this location could be Edinburgh. But it does make me wonder what made Park Circus so special that they decided to shoot in Glasgow instead. It could have been a logistical decision or an aesthetic one – who knows!
8. Merchant Street, Edinburgh EH1 1EN
After Robertson’s trip to Hamburg (which did shoot in Hamburg), he really falls off the rails. Before clocking in for his shift on Christmas Day, he stops his car to take drugs/drink/puke on the end of Merchant Street. It’s one of the streets underneath George IV Bridge.
9. GTW Storage, 45 James Watt St, Glasgow G2 8NF
After several twists, turns and revelations… The murderous gang captures Robertson and takes him to a storage unit. This storage unit isn’t in Edinburgh but is, of course, in Glasgow. It’s the rather glamorous location of the GTW Storage building on James Watt Street. Just take a minute to write down this film location on your bucket list before you forget about it.
And those are the main Filth filming locations in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Have you watched the film Filth? Or visited any of the film locations in Edinburgh or Glasgow? Let me know in the comments below!