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  • Writer's pictureAndy Oldham

Inside, outside

Updated: May 1

What does the inside and outside of a police station look like? Maybe you already know?!


It seems like a simple enough question, and I think most Film and TV productions make a pretty good go of it. But it may be that you need some help with the most minor details which could really make the difference.


For example, I was working on a production not too long ago, a contemporary police drama. The main character had to grab their radio and make an urgent call.


Simple enough, right? But the question came up - would the radio be on the desk? In a charger? On a shelf? Or would the character (a detective) have it in their jacket pocket, or in their bag?


As with all of these questions, there's a balance between making it look good on camera, and reality. You don't really want your actor wandering out of shot to collect the radio from a shelf where it's on charge, so the decision was made to leave it on a desk, which is perfectly reasonable. I avoided the joke about CID having their radio gathering dust in a drawer! Having a Police Advisor there to help dress the set could save time later.


Oh and one piece of advice for set dressers who are making a police station set - make it messier and grubbier! These rooms, offices and desks are in use 24/7 by lots of different people. Think filing trays with piles of folders and paper, overflowing bins, dirty cups, old computers with post it notes on the edge of the screen - you're starting to get the idea. And of course if you're setting your drama in anything before the early 1990s, add a few dirty ashtrays and replace the computers with typewriters!



The outside of a police station is a fairly straightforward proposition - I think this is usually done pretty well. Any building can be made to look like a police station with a few well placed signs, a couple of marked police cars outside, and of course (you see it in every police drama) a couple of officers either entering or leaving during that establishing shot!


Could your next Film or TV production benefit from a Police Advisor? Please get in touch for a free, no obligation chat about how I might be able to help your production look and feel authentic, without holding up the story!

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