How Hollywood brought Istanbul to Croydon town centre

By - Monday 19th September, 2016

Wondering what the flashes and bangs coming from St George’s Walk last week were all about? Keithanthony Taylor has the answer

They put up signs to reassure us. “Do not be alarmed”, the notice read. “You may see actors using replica firearms and hear gunfire. Filming and rehearsals will be taking place today. This is all being controlled by a qualified armourer”.

So Croydon goes to Hollywood once again. This time it’s the film The Long Walk, with Batman star Michael Keaton, which arrived for filming between Tuesday 13th and Friday 16th September. The location was St George’s Walk, just opposite the Fairfield Halls, rather surprisingly standing in for Istanbul. The film makers did have one unexpected stroke of luck: on the days in question, temperatures here matched those in Turkey as the south of England baked in an early autumn heatwave.

The Elmazlar Sozaği area of Istanbul was re-created just off Park Lane, and one of St George’s Walk’s shops became the KisakÜrek restaurant. We don’t yet know quite what happened there, but the production company’s staff had been working for days with local stores to set the scene and issuing warnings about the sound effects, including shooting, the sight of smoke and actors with replica weapons.

Fire Arms Notice JPG

Photo author’s own.

In The Long Walk, Michael Keaton plays a toughened Cold War veteran tasked with training a youngster recruited into black ops by the CIA. Together the two uncover a series of secret events which risk triggering World War Three. It wasn’t made clear whether or not Keaton himself filmed here this week, and if anyone managed to catch a picture of the film’s biggest stars on set, I’m sure that we’d have seen them by now.

Which brings me to the only negative about this week’s events. In Croydon we’re no strangers to the silver screen, and have a proud history of appearing. Delta Point even has a previous Batman connection, featuring in 2012′s The Dark Knight Rises as Gotham General Hospital. (On that occasion, Batman was played by Christian Bale.) Exciting though it is, however, filming does cause disruption to those who live and work nearby, causing the re-routing of traffic and, last week, changes to bus routes. Having stood and watched for some time, I’d also say that last week, whilst some security people were reasonable, others rather overstepped the mark in their attitude to members of the public who were doing nothing more than showing an interest in what was going on in their neighbourhood. This wasn’t always comfortable to see, and certainly made it difficult for me to take photos.

Still, I look forward to seeing the final result on the big screen. I’m sure that the real star will be Croydon!

Keithanthony Taylor

Keithanthony Taylor

Keithanthony has lived in Croydon for 34 years and hosts weekly Radio interviews on an Atlanta Georgia Soul/Reggae show, Broadcasts Local Hospital Radio and Radio Mayday at Croydon Hospital. He also practices a as a Master Hypnotist having formed an interest aged 12. He also has worked as a designer in electronics & aviation, as a sales trainer for Encyclopedia Britannica, in the life and pensions industry, Private Ambulance Service, car & motorcycle instructor, even Golf Club bar man.

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