Disney+’s The Acolyte: Exploring All Filming Locations

Created by Leslye Headland, ‘The Acolyte’ is a show set in the ‘Star Wars’ universe that transports us back to the final days of the High Republic era. The narrative introduces us to Jedi, who uncover emerging signs of the dark side. As we follow their journey across various planets, the Disney series shifts between ships hurtling through space, rustic settlements, and alien forests. The diverse backdrops will likely spark questions in enthusiasts regarding where it is filmed.

The Acolyte Filming Locations

‘The Acolyte’ is primarily filmed in parts of the UK and in Madeira, Portugal. Principal photography for the show began on October 30, 2022, and was wrapped up for the first season by June 6, 2023. Shooting was carried out both on location and in studios under the production name ‘Paradox.’ The show’s production is especially notable for not having used the Volume – a giant cylinder of connected screens – and being carried out on location to some extent. Many of the actors did their own stunt work, and Amandla Stenberg was noted by the crew for being too fast in her actions to catch her movements.

Reading, England

Most of the filming for ‘The Acolyte’ takes place around the historic town of Reading in Berkshire to the west of London. This is because the production was housed in the Shinfield Studios on South Avenue. Shinfield Studios is a large movie studio consisting of 18 soundstages over its 1 million square feet of production space. Established in 2021, Shinfield Studios has quickly established itself as a premier destination for filmmakers seeking state-of-the-art facilities and support services. The studio complex features sound stages, production offices, editing suites, and a range of amenities to cater to the needs of film and television crews.

The production team of ‘The Acolyte’ ventured out of the studio and into the woods owned by the Englefield Estate on Englefield Road. The rural expanse of the estate is crowned by the Englefield House, a Grade II listed historic building home to the Benyon family for generations. The vast estate is a popular destination for filmmakers, offering its historical structures alongside 12 acres of formal garden and woodlands as sets. The scenes of the Jedi treading through the alien forest were filmed in the forested areas of the estate.

Filming on the estate for the first season was reportedly done in four separate areas. Two of these were densely forested, while one was by the lake, and another was in a clearing. The team is also said to have spent considerable time decorating existing trees and inserting fake rocks and trees into these sets to create an otherworldly environment. The estate’s charming grounds can be seen in Apple TV’s ‘Masters of the Air,’ Disney’s ‘Cruella,’ Netflix’s ‘The Crown,’ Sky One’s ‘A League of Their Own,’ ‘X-Men: First Class,’ and ‘The King’s Speech.’

Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales

To capture more sequences of verdant landscapes on location for the first season, the team traveled to the Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales. Named after the majestic peaks of the Brecon Beacons mountain range, which dominate the park’s skyline. The park is known for its breathtaking scenery of gentle hills and wild moorlands. In the show, the park is used to simulate mountainous terrain and a vast, green expanse. Other productions that have set up shop in the park include ‘The Dark Knight Rises,’ HBO’s ‘His Dark Materials,’ and ‘An American Werewolf in London.’

London, England

The capital city of England also becomes a filming location for ‘The Acolyte.’ “We did a lot of our (filming) practically in London,” Headland said in an interview. “The past 8 months have been… quite a ride here in London,” wrote Kyu C. Lee, a consultant on the show, in an Instagram post. “All of us collectively collaborated, sacrificed, and created something that is going to be so freakin’ special.” London is often visited by productions looking to access technically advanced movie studios around it, like Pinewood Studios, which was visited by the crew of ‘The Acolyte.’

Madeira, Portugal

A second filming unit of ‘The Acolyte’ flew to the islands of Madeira to shoot segments of the first season. Situated southwest of Portugal and northwest of Africa, Madeira comprises four main islands: Madeira, Porto Santo, and the uninhabited islands of Desertas and Selvagens. The main island of Madeira is also known as the Pearl of the Atlantic, featuring jaw-dropping scenery of sheer cliffs trapping the clouds, lush valleys, and a rugged coastline dotted with quaint towns.

Madeira’s otherworldly landscapes likely drew the team to shoot scenes around them to enhance the visual range of the show. The islands are a hidden gem for filmmakers and were first captured prominently in the 1956 ‘Moby Dick.’ They are more well-known to outdoor enthusiasts as an ideal destination for hiking, mountain biking, snorkeling, and scuba diving.

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