Can you tell when it’s not ‘America’?

Often it Is the width of streets and sidewalks that give it away.
Also street signs. Most people in the US who drive are familiar with the shapes and colors of street signs. They're made uniquely so just in case the sign gets worn down and hasn't been replaced, you'd still know a yellow triangle means yield, or a red octagon means stop. European street signs are very different from ours and a dead giveaway.

Also, one giveaway I always notice is the limestone. Growing up in the Joliet area, a lot of stuff around here and Chicago is built with limestone sourced from the Joliet-Lemont Formation. European limestone quarried from the Jura formation, the Tuffeau Formation, or other European limestones just have this different look about them. It's kinda one of those weird quirks of having a background in geology.
 
When I saw the brick I knew instantly this was filmed on Earth and not an alien planet.

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Also street signs. Most people in the US who drive are familiar with the shapes and colors of street signs. They're made uniquely so just in case the sign gets worn down and hasn't been replaced, you'd still know a yellow triangle means yield, or a red octagon means stop. European street signs are very different from ours and a dead giveaway.

Also, one giveaway I always notice is the limestone. Growing up in the Joliet area, a lot of stuff around here and Chicago is built with limestone sourced from the Joliet-Lemont Formation. European limestone quarried from the Jura formation, the Tuffeau Formation, or other European limestones just have this different look about them. It's kinda one of those weird quirks of having a background in geology.
Yep, not the same color for sure...and, as set designer, decorator; it's those little details that give it away. When you have to dress a existing street in another country, you have a lot of work to do and sometimes, sacrifices have to be made. Facades, signs, paint, etc...(list is too long)!

When Weta animators went to Brussels to sketch the architectural details of the houses, streets, etc for "The adventures of Tintin" they spot a quirky details on every facades: a hole at the bottom of the front slab, adorned with a steel/iron bar.:unsure:
They questioned their Belgian hosts asking them what was that hole for...their answer: to remove the dog crap from their shoes (yes, alas, in Brussels we seems not to pick-up our dog's poop:rolleyes::oops::whistle:)...details, details!
 
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I can also tell when something is not filmed in America by looking at the extras in the background….

The general appearance of the crowd is often far too well-dressed to be Americans, when it is shot elsewhere…

For those who live outside of the U.S., it may be shocking to see how “slob culture” has firmly taken hold for some. It is now common to go to a public place, such as the supermarket, and see more than a few people, out and about, wearing a top of questionable cleanliness, sporting bed-head hair, and shuffling around in their pajama bottoms and indoor slippers.

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See if you can spot the Americans in this photo below…. ;)

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I can also tell when something is not filmed in America by looking at the extras in the background….

The general appearance of the crowd is often far too well-dressed to be Americans…

For those who live outside of America, it may be shocking to see how “slob culture” has firmly taken hold for some. It is now common to go to a public place, such as the supermarket, and see more than a few people, out and about, wearing a top of questionable cleanliness , bed-head hair, and their pajama bottoms and indoor slippers.

View attachment 1642653

See if you can spot the Americans in this photo below…. ;)

View attachment 1642654
Every time I see someone out and about wearing pajamas (sadly it really is that prevalent here in the states), I always think of my grandfather who would put on nice clothes to simply go fetch the mail. I wish society still had decorum like that.
 
Every time I see someone out and about wearing pajamas (sadly it really is that prevalent here in the states), I always think of my grandfather who would put on nice clothes to simply go fetch the mail. I wish society still had decorum like that.

Agreed…

Even 20 years ago, if you saw someone out in public wearing their pajamas, you would think they had escaped from a mental institution.
 
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I can also tell when something is not filmed in America by looking at the extras in the background….

The general appearance of the crowd is often far too well-dressed to be Americans…

For those who live outside of the U.S., it may be shocking to see how “slob culture” has firmly taken hold for some. It is now common to go to a public place, such as the supermarket, and see more than a few people, out and about, wearing a top of questionable cleanliness, bed-head hair, and their pajama bottoms and indoor slippers.

View attachment 1642653
How'd you get this photo of my father. :p
 
Agreed…

Even 20 years ago, if you saw someone out in public wearing their pajamas, you would think they had escaped from a mental institution.
Or a hospital...:rolleyes:(n) I come from an European family with strong German/Dutch/Belgian ancestry +Police/Army/War services from many family members (including me with one year of army service) and no-one could've gone out in those type of outfits:eek::eek::eek:o_Oo_Oo_O
Your name would've been removed from the family tree and nobody would've spoken to you again:oops:
 
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Also street signs. Most people in the US who drive are familiar with the shapes and colors of street signs. They're made uniquely so just in case the sign gets worn down and hasn't been replaced, you'd still know a yellow triangle means yield, or a red octagon means stop. European street signs are very different from ours and a dead giveaway.

Not sure if it is like that in other places, but here the City and surrounding townships often have different colored and even styled or font type for their street signs

You can usually tell when you are in a different city/town around here because the street signs change

Sometimes they catch details like that. For example, with filming it's Always Sunny In Philadelphia bar exterior shots, they use the actual Philly style street signs even though the actual bar exterior is somewhere in LA

They did a really good job of finding an LA location that looks like the area the fictitious bar is supposed to be located at

While they film most in LA, they do on location shots from Philly throughout the season for specific scenes

One city I have seen often substituted for Philadelphia (among other cities) is Toronto, Canada

They filmed most of Shazam there, but for a few iconic shots they also did on location in Philly (like the scene with the Philly Art Museum background)
 
I’m interested in film production and also work as a background extra here in the UK. Often to recreate London, when filming in another English town, they ship in a red double decker bus and a couple of black cabs and bingo, it’s London. They also often film New York and other US cities on UK backlots with appropriate props and costumes. Ship in a couple of yellow cabs and a free standing mail box and you’re there. But to American eyes, can you tell? Do they get it right, or are there telltale signs that it’s not the actual US?
Interesting reading, all. Seems some can spot it, while others can’t. I sometimes think productions don’t go far enough in selling the illusion. I worked as an extra on a movie nearly two years ago, (still to be released, so no name), with an English Airport standing in for JFK. They wheeled out out some left hand drive cars and yellow cabs, (fair enough) but in the background had a coach/ bus While the destination said JFK on the front, all the passengers disembarked out of the wrong side, (out of the right hand side as you looked at it from the front!) lazy production values.
 
It's all about budget distribution. If some of the money is funneled toward another team (let's say costumes design team), then the crew in charge of set dressing, decoration, etc has to find ways to "make it believable" for the audience for the amount of $$ they have to work with. Some sacrifices have to be made and only the ones "in the know" will spot the missing details;)
 
On the subject of pajama bottoms in public, I think it also has seen an increase due to Covid. Lots of young people wore those clothes around their house during their formative years so now they wear it anywhere. Plus there's a lot of adults who still work remotely that probably add to it. I went to an evening movie recently and there were teens in pajama clothes who also brought blankets with them. I also blame the reclining seats with the movable armrests too. I miss the older theater seats. If I wanted to sit on a couch in my pajamas with my feet up under a blanket, I'd stay home.

I'm all for comfort, but there's plenty of comfortable clothes that aren't sleepwear.

Back on the main, topic, it's pretty easy to spot other cities standing in for New York. The sheer size of the buildings and their shadows, and the long avenues makes it hard to realistically recreate.
 
Mary Jo Pehl in Cinematic Titanic's "East Meets Watts":

"Sorry, I can only take you as far as the Universal backlot."
 

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When I saw the brick I knew instantly this was filmed on Earth and not an alien planet.

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How? Humans in another galaxy would not use brick because sometime in the distant future we would?? This is a reasonable detail.

Many ideas work because of the commonality of experience. There should be farmers and bricks and some kind of cattle and planes, trains and automobiles and all the mundane things we can recognize in our own world.

Picking apart rational items is a waste of criticism.
 

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