Created By: jimlapbap on August 23, 2011 Last Edited By: FactoidCow on March 10, 2018
Troped

Filming Location Cameo

In a show that normally uses California Doubling, the plot moves to the actual filming location for an episode.

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Trope
This is when a show that normally does California Doubling stops doing that for an episode or two, by moving the plot to the same location where the show is usually filmed.

Let's say that Generic Detective Show is filmed in Los Angeles, but it's set in New York. They find an actor who can do a Brooklyn accent, throw in some establishing shots of lower Manhattan, and with some clever editing it's pretty convincing as a Big Applesauce series. But then after two or three seasons, one episode involves Detectives Alice and Bob following a lead to Los Angeles. Suddenly, there's Scenery Porn. The show takes place outside more. The establishing shots actually have the characters in them.

In short, a Filming Location Cameo gives an episode the novelty and excitement of shooting on-location in a different city...but since it's not actually a different city, it's generally cheaper. By its nature, the technique is almost entirely exclusive to live-action TV, although film examples are theoretically possible.

May be used for a Vacation Episode.

To reiterate: this is the show being temporarily set where it is already filmed, not just filmed where it is set. There must be a clear pattern of California Doubling that is then broken by the plot, without changing the filming location. If the cast and crew have to travel anywhere out of the ordinary to shoot the episode, it's not this.

Straight Examples
  • Alphas (set in New York City, filmed in Toronto) has an episode where the epilogue takes place in Toronto.
  • Bones (set in Washington D.C., filmed in L.A.): They go to Los Angeles to investigate a death.
  • Castle, usually set in New York but filmed in L.A., has "To Love and Die in L.A.", where Beckett follows the trail of the man who killed her mentor to Los Angeles.
  • The Dead Zone (set in Maine, filmed in Vancouver): one episode Johnny visits a man living in Vancouver.
  • The revived series of Doctor Who is filmed in Cardiff, which consequently has stood in for London, New York and other exotic locations. The first-season episode "Boom Town" is set in Cardiff, and features the TARDIS parked in front of a recognizable Cardiff landmark with another in the background.
  • Lost (set on a mysterious island, filmed in Hawai'i): When the Oceanic Six are rescued, they land in Hawai'i.
  • The later seasons of Power Rangers are filmed in New Zealand, but are set in towns and cities in America. However, there was a story arc of Power Rangers Dino Charge where the rangers visit New Zealand to hunt for a new Zord.
  • Psych is filmed in Vancouver, but normally set in Santa Barbara. However, there are two episodes where the characters take a trip to Vancouver: the Vacation Episode "Extradition: British Columbia", and its sequel "Extradition II: The Actual Extradition Part".
  • Rizzoli & Isles is set in Boston, but filmed in Los Angeles. In the season 6 episode "Fake It 'Til You Make It", the titular characters discover that their latest murder case might be tied to a similar one in Los Angeles, so they fly out to take a look.
  • Star Trek: Voyager: a temporal version in "Future's End" where the crew happen to be in Los Angeles and in 1996.
  • Supernatural: in one episode they magically become two TV actors named Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki filming a show called Supernatural, and the bulk of the episode takes place in the TV studio where the show is actually shot.
  • Time Trax being filmed in Australia has a few episodes set there, though largely set in U.S.
  • The X-Files:
    • Mulder and Scully's work takes them to Vancouver in "The End", which was aptly enough the last episode filmed in that city.
    • After they moved shooting to LA, the episode "Hollwood, A.D." where somebody writes a movie Very Loosely Based on their work partially takes place in LA.

Playing With
  • Due South is set in Chicago but filmed in Toronto. In one episode Fraser and Ray go to Toronto - that single episode was filmed in Chicago.
  • Leverage stretched this from "cameo" to something much longer. For much of its run, the series was set in Boston but actually filmed in Portland. In the final season, the main characters move their base to Portland, and the show suddenly started showing the local landmarks it had had to hide up until then.
Community Feedback Replies: 36
  • August 23, 2011
    PaulA
    ^ Yes, the old-school Doctor Who story "The Hand of Fear" begins with the TARDIS lands in what looks like yet another desolate alien planet but turns out to be an actual quarry. Then the quarry workers dig up a long-buried alien artifact and the plot begins.
  • August 23, 2011
    PaulA
    "The Unquiet Dead" isn't an example, I don't think, because although it's set in Cardiff it wasn't filmed in Cardiff -- modern Cardiff doesn't have the right kind of buildings any more.
  • August 23, 2011
    randomsurfer
  • August 23, 2011
    jaytee
    ^That's not really the same as this trope, if I understand you correctly.
  • August 23, 2011
    randomsurfer
    My bad, guess I wasn't reading close enough. If anything it'd be the opposite of this trope. For the record I've left it but struck it out.
  • August 23, 2011
    jimlapbap
    @Paul A The point with "the Unquiet" Dead was that it set up Torchwood, sort of a meta-example. But yeah, it's not really a complete example.

    @ randomsurfer and jaytee : right, that's not example of the trope. An example would be someone from ER or NYPD Blue having an episode take place in Los Angeles.
  • August 24, 2011
    AmyJade
    Amusingly subverted (averted? not sure) in Due South, which takes place in Chicago and was filmed in Toronto... except for an episode that takes place in Toronto, which was filmed in Chicago.
  • August 24, 2011
    arromdee
    In Doctor Who, Terror of the Zygons also has a scene set in an actual quarry, though it's pretty short.

  • August 24, 2011
    PaulA
    ^^^ Now I really don't know what you're talking about. There's no Torchwood in "The Unquiet Dead", and even if there were it would be irrelevant to this trope. (The episode that set up Torchwood was "Tooth and Claw", which was set in Scotland.)
  • August 25, 2011
    jimlapbap
    I was talking about the rift established in "The Unquiet Dead" in Cardiff became the reason Torchwood 3 (locations) was located in Cardiff. I saw Torchwood (series) as a large-scale example to have the spinoff set where it was filmed.
  • August 28, 2011
    Duncan
    Will And Grace was set in Big Applesauce but filmed in LA. For a two-part episode, they actually filmed some sections in New York.
  • August 28, 2011
    PaulA
    ^ Again, this isn't "show has one episode actually filmed in the place it's set", it's "show has one episode set in the place it's actually filmed".
  • August 28, 2011
    randomsurfer
    I think this Needs A Better Name to reduce the confusion.

  • August 29, 2011
    jimlapbap
    @Paul A Maybe I should reword the trope. Or create another trope, or have a Type 1 and Type 2? Actually, I might think about using your wording in the laconic description.
  • August 29, 2011
    TrustBen
    On The X Files Mulder and Scully's work takes them to Vancouver in "The End", which was aptly enough the last episode filmed in that city.
  • August 29, 2011
    randomsurfer
    • [see Trust Ben's example above]
      • After they moved shooting to LA, the episode "Hollwood, A.D." where somebody writes a movie Very Loosely Based on their work partially takes place in LA.

  • August 29, 2011
    VelvetAndroid
    ^^^ To support the case against "The Unquiet Dead"'s inclusion, sadly: it does look like a fine example of this trope, since Cardiff normally doubles for London etc. whereas this one episode was actually set in Cardiff for a change. Ironically, it was the one not filmed there. Apparently the real place doesn't look Victorian enough anymore to double for its Victorian self, so location footage was filmed in Swansea.

    This is almost worthy of a subtrope: Real Location Cameo That Actually Wasn't, Weirdly Enough -- but I fear that's too rare an occurrence to warrant one...?
  • August 29, 2011
    Dawnwing
    Wasn't part of The Twilight Saga actually filmed in Forks, Washington?
  • August 30, 2011
    kuyanJ
    ^ again, not an example. This trope is "episode set where the series is filmed" not "episode filmed where the series is set".
  • August 30, 2011
    TheThnikkaman
    Mayhaps we could name this something along the lines of Filming Location Makes A Cameo? That's probably too long, but hopefully you get the point.
  • August 30, 2011
    tryer
    Already exists in the form of Real Place Background. While stating that the locations are one in the same is not a necessity, arguing the point is just playing semantics. If you still believe this isn't the correct trope feel free to try to get this made, if not, mark it for deletion.
  • August 30, 2011
    PaulA
    ^ Real Place Background is when an animated work or a computer game imitates real places in its backgrounds. That's a completely different trope.
  • September 2, 2011
    IlGreven
    Castle, usually set in New York but filmed in L.A., has "To Love and Die in L.A.", where Beckett follows the trail of the man who killed her mentor to Los Angeles.
  • September 2, 2011
    jadmire
    I think Gettysburg was filmed in part at Gettysburg itself, not so? Same for the sequel Gods And Generals?
  • September 13, 2011
    jimlapbap
    I've added in entries from the comments, thanks for those. I've also changed the name to "Filming Location Cameo" (from Real Location Cameo). I'm open to other ideas for a trope name.
  • August 2, 2016
    PaulA
    see also this ykttw
  • August 2, 2016
    FactoidCow
    ^ Copying over some of the suggestions from the other YKKTW's comments:

    PaulA:

    • The revived series of Doctor Who is filmed in Cardiff, which consequently has stood in for London, New York and other exotic locations. The first-season episode "Boom Town" is set in Cardiff, and features the TARDIS parked in front of a recognizable Cardiff landmark with another in the background.

    (The first season of New Who also offers an odd non-example or inversion or something: "The Unquiet Dead" has Monmouth doubling for Cardiff, because Cardiff didn't have enough intact historical architecture to portray its own 19th-century self.)

    • Possibly related: For much of its run, Leverage was set in Boston but actually filmed in Portland. In the final season, the main characters move their base to Portland, and the show suddenly started showing the local landmarks it had had to hide up until then.

    randomsurfer:
    • Played With in Due South, which is set in Chicago but filmed in Toronto. In one episode Fraser and Ray go to Toronto - that episode was filmed in Chicago.
  • August 3, 2016
    FactoidCow
    And my own suggestion:

    • Psych is filmed in Vancouver, but normally set in Santa Barbara. However, there are two episodes where the characters take a trip to Vancouver: the Vacation Episode "Extradition: British Columbia", and its sequel "Extradition II: The Actual Extradition Part".
  • August 3, 2016
    AgProv
    apologies, realised this example doesn't fit - but unable to delete.
  • September 29, 2016
    triassicranger
    Live Action Television

    The later seasons of Power Rangers are filmed in New Zealand, but are set in towns and cities in America. However, there was a story arc of Power Rangers Dino Charge where the rangers visit New Zeland to hunt for a new Zord.

    I would add the episode of Power Rangers SPD where they visit New Zealand, but I don't know if it counts since that series was set in the future.
  • August 11, 2017
    FactoidCow
    Another one here:

    • Rizzoli And Isles is set in Boston, but filmed in Los Angeles. In the season 6 episode "Fake It 'Til You Make It", the titular characters discover that their latest murder case might be tied to a similar one in Los Angeles, so they fly out to take a look.
  • December 17, 2017
    FactoidCow
    Rewrote the description, added examples from comments.

    I've also been thinking about the title some more. I saw in the comments on the duplicate proposal that someone suggested "Location as Itself" as a title. Would that be clearer, or would it be too broad?
  • December 17, 2017
    henke37
    Is this trivia or a trope? I am going with trivia here.
  • December 17, 2017
    FactoidCow
    Yes, I'm planning to add it to the Trivia index once it's published. I already brought it up on the official Trivia discussion thread, the discussion spans from this post to this post.
  • December 17, 2017
    TonyG
    • Frasier: (Set in Seattle) Usually filmed on soundstages in LA, the 100th episode had scenes shot on location on Seattle, as Frasier tries to make it to an event in his honor.
  • December 17, 2017
    FactoidCow
    ^ This is backwards. A correct example would be if Frasier spent an episode going on a trip to LA.
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