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Iconic Brighton films and locations

Brighton has everything a filmmaker could need; from the seafront to the lanes, the graffiti-covered backstreets to the array of parks and roadways. The city provides all the options for any genre of television, video or film production.

Brighton and Hove has a long history within the film and television industry with a number of productions choosing to use the area as a location. Some of cinema’s most iconic scenes were filmed right here. We’ve listed our favourites along with their locations.

Brighton Rock (1947)

Local Brighton shoot
Soundstage to look like the pier (shots of the waves underneath).

Originally a gangster film noir made in 1947, Brighton Rock became known for using real locations in Brighton and surrounding areas due to the book it was based off. There are many scenes set on the pier and the seafront including the film’s dramatic climax. As well as this, a tense chase scene sees protagonist Pinkie evade capture from the station all the way down to Pavillion Gardens. 

A contemporary review in the Daily Mirror accused the film of “false, nasty, cheap sensationalism” (1). However most critics since, have warmed to the realism of the setting, noting how the homeliness of the tea shops and the charming seafront juxtaposes the gritty menace of the gangsters’ activities.

Brighton station

Brighton Rock was remade in 2010 and directed by Rowan Joffé. More in keeping with the book’s story, this version was also filmed in Brighton and surrounding areas such as Beachy Head where the film came to its evocative close. 

Beachy Head
Madeira Drive

Oh! What a Lovely War (1969)

Directed by Richard Attenborough, this satirical look at the First World War really milks Brighton for locations using many of the city’s iconic backdrops. It was originally a stage play and follows the story of three boys of the same family who were working as soldiers. The film cements Richard Attenborough’s love of Brighton having being a young star actor in Brighton Rock.

Quadrophenia (1979)

Brighton seafront

Probably the most famous Brighton film is Quadrophenia which is actually set predominately in London but with the most iconic scenes taking place during an excursion to Brighton. Inspired by true events, masses of mods and rockers descended onto Brighton beach from London resulting in a mass fight that shocked the nation in 1964. Locations used during filming include East Street, Brighton Beach, Brighton Sea Life Centre, and Madeira Drive. The narrow and easily overlooked Quadrophenia Alley off East Street, was the famous setting for an escape from the police. 

East Street

The End of the Affair (1999)

The End of the Affair is a romantic film drama starring Ralph Fiennes and Julianne Moore based on a novel of the same name. Predominantly set in London, the characters spend a weekend in Brighton and inevitably also pay a visit to the Palace Pier as well as the Royal Pavilion. 

Brighton promenade

20,000 Days on Earth

Madeira Drive

This drama-documentary portrays a fictionalised 24 hours in the life of the artist Nick Cave on his 20,000th day on earth. It was filmed in Brighton because the musician has resided here since the early 2000’s. In memorable scenes, famous faces from his past such as Ray Winstone and Kylie Minogue revisit Cave in daydream-like scenes as he sits behind the wheel driving through his adopted hometown.

Local filming talent

My Policeman

My Policeman is an upcoming romantic drama being made by Amazon Studios and was shot mostly in Brighton and the surrounding areas in 2021. The film is set in both the 1950’s and the 1990’s which again highlights the versatility of Brighton as a place to set your production. Based on a book, the film’s production caused a stir in the city as it stars Harry Styles and Emma Corrin with many residents cast to play extras. My Policeman was released in October 2022 and features Brighton locations such as Brunswick and Sussex Squares, the seafront and the Royal Pavilion. 

Music and TV productions

Brighton has been home to not only film productions but also television and music videos. Big artists such as Laura Marling have chosen the city to accompany their music. Not many people are aware that The Beach Boys filmed a promotional video playing on the bandstand between the piers. Also, the hugely popular series of books by Peter James, which are largely set in Brighton, have been adapted into TV dramas and have being shot throughout the city from 2021.

The unique architecture and atmosphere of Brighton and Hove allow for great creativity and opportunity when it comes to filmmaking. One can regularly stumble across film crews, large and small, on location across the area. There is so much diversity to the city’s iconic landscapes and backdrops, they can be utilised time and time again for a wide range of filming; from small scale video projects to commercials, documentary, feature film or light entertainment television . Whether it’s contemporary production, a period drama or a futuristic sci-fi setting. Brighton has the filming locations covered.

  1. https://www.bfi.org.uk/features/brighton-rock-locations