Welcome to Marwen: Exploring All Filming Locations

Welcome to Marwen‘ is a fantasy drama film based on the life of Mark Hogancamp, a traumatized man who deals with his struggles through a make-believe world he constructs in his backyard. Directed by Robert Zemeckis, the film depicts the dual nature of Mark’s reality. In one, he is a man struggling with PTSD from a brutal assault he endured in the past, and in the other, his life is reflected through the whimsical doll-like figures occupying his detailed World War II-era model village. Living with acute memory loss, Mark takes solace in this miniature world of fantasy as it offers him a route to escape and a road to salvation.

The surreal drama combines live-action and visual effects to bring Mark’s fantasy to life while also digging into the harsh tragedy that defines him as a person. With the striking visuals of the animated world dictating the internal workings of Mark’s fractured mind, the mix of surreal, childish fancy with complex topics of resilience, pain, and fortitude establishes an eccentric tone throughout the film. As such, the production crew had to cover a multitude of aesthetics to stitch the fabric of Hogancamp’s reality believably and endearingly, which prompts exploration into the film’s shooting locations.

Where Was Welcome to Marwen Filmed?

The Robert Zemeckis directorial was filmed in Vancouver as well as the surrounding cities of Coquitlam, Abbotsford, Burnaby, Maple Ridge, and Langley in British Columbia. Principal photography began on August 14, 2017, and was wrapped on October 19, 2017. The crew and filmmaker pinpointed the westernmost province and its availing buildings and locales to offer suitable neighborhoods to match Mark’s real community in New York, where the film is set. Several landmarks in the area made their way into the movie as they were utilized as the backdrop for ‘Welcome to Marwen.’

Vancouver, British Columbia

Filming for ‘Welcome to Marwen’ took place predominantly in the port city of Vancouver, British Columbia. Key locations involved many roads, buildings, and locales, purposely chosen to fit the New York setting of Mark’s story. Railway Street in the downtown Vancouver area is the location where Mark’s first photographic exhibition of his fantasy village of Marwen takes place. Although narratively set at Pillar’s Gallery in the Big Apple, the exhibition was taped in an overhauled building on Railway Street. Interestingly, some pictures on display in the film were actually taken from the collection of the real Mark Hogancamp.

Coquitlam, British Columbia

Located around 32 km from Vancouver, the city of Coquitlam stood in for certain scenes in ‘Welcome to Marwen.’ Both cities, which lie close to each other within the same province, made the journey seamless for the team. One of the access points in Mark’s journey is his struggles with mental health, which is an integral part of his identity. The scenes set in the rehabilitation facility where he is seeking help were recorded in the Riverview Hospital. Situated at 2601 Lougheed Highway in Coquitlam, it is an abandoned mental health hospital that frequently hosts film and show productions.

Abbotsford, British Columbia

The team settled on McTavish Road, Abbotsford, in the British Columbia province to depict Mark’s house and neighborhood. The road plays a massive role in conveying the central crux of the narrative, as this is where several scenes involving Mark’s magical world of Marwen and his mobile home come to life. The team crafted the entire exterior of Mark and Nicol’s home. The scenes portraying the latter’s new life next door and Mark’s meeting with her were all lensed on this set, which also found itself host to Kurt’s unwelcome visit. Additional photography was done on the site to capture Mark’s Marwen dolls.

Burnaby, British Columbia

The interior sequences set in Mark’s home, along with his dolls, were shot in a studio in Burnaby. Bridge Studios, or Griffith Studios, at 7705 Griffiths Drive offers about 3 soundstages and is very close to the airport. The crew rebuilt the exteriors of Mark and Nicol’s home inside the production facility and meticulously crafted the interiors for shooting purposes. To ensure the quality of the shots was not compromised, visual effects were used to match the exterior surroundings that had already been filmed on-site. The portion describing Mark’s homely existence, as well as his fantasy world of Marwen, was filmed in the 5-acre facility of Bridge Studios.

The stop-motion animation of Mark’s dolls and the story of Marwen were also visualized in the facility. Motion-capture technology was used on a volume stage to bring the whimsy and colorful narrative of Mark’s imagination to the screen. The studio was also home to certain courtroom sequences, as they blended the animation of Mark’s dolls alongside live-action footage in a flurry of camera movements and trickery. This was reportedly done on a separate soundstage.

Maple Ridge, British Columbia

The city of Maple Ridge was also part of certain scenes in ‘Welcome to Marwen.’ Mark’s part-time job at the Avalanche Roadhouse was shot on Dewdney Trunk Road in the city. The crew overhauled an empty building to film the scenes involving Mark’s friendship with Carlala and Larry, the owner of the Roadhouse. Scenes depicting Mark’s integral defining trauma, which is disclosed in the film gradually over time, were lensed in the same set. The Avalanche Roadhouse is where he is harshly beaten up, mocked, and victimized by five men.

Langley, British Columbia

Fort Langley, a small town in the larger city of Langley, was used for a few scenes by the production crew. With its picturesque and charming vintage attractions, it has hosted the filming of several movies and shows in the past. For ‘Welcome to Marwen,’ an antique store on a main road was overhauled to stand in as Al’s Hobby House. This is the place where Mark spends his time diving into his craft and his fantasy by looking for hours on end at the miniatures stocked on the store’s shelves.

Read more: Welcome to Marwen: Is Roberta Based on a Real Hobby Store Clerk? Did She and Mark End Up Together?