Location and Filming
Brick Warehouses and Abandoned Hospitals
The Search for Glass architecture
As with almost all of Shyamalan's films, Glass was shot in and around
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The two most critical locations that Shyamalan
needed to find were a brick warehouse, where The Beast is holding the
cheerleaders he intends to kill and where The Beast and David Dunn engage in an
epic brawl, and a building that could become Raven Hill hospital, where most of
Glass takes place.
To find the perfect locations, Shyamalan asked location manager STACI
HAGENBAUGH, with whom he'd worked on his films The Happening, The Visit and
Split, to begin the search.
"We probably scouted at least 25 potential brick factory options before we
landed on one," Hagenbaugh says. "We were down to two, and ultimately the
Frankford Arsenal, a former 19th century Army ammunition plant in northeast
Philadelphia, was the one that won. That location was going to have so many
different things going on: a lot of stunt work, a lot of visual effects work,
and everything happening at the same time. Plus, there's a lot of interior and
exterior interplay in that scene. Night was very adamant that he needed the
exterior and interior to be able to work together. For me it was such an iconic
location to be at because it hasn't been shot for a very long time. We were
really excited to be there."
Sadly, that did not mean that shooting there was much fun for the actors,
primarily because it involved a massive fight scene in the rain. "The action
sequences in this movie are really on another level," says executive producer
Schneider. McAvoy puts it in more concrete terms. "Being in the rain and doing
the stunts at the brick factory, it was fun," he says. "But you're playing
someone who's impervious to cold and you're standing in freezing rain with your
shirt off going, 'I'M THE BEAST!,' When what you really feel like is a wimp who
is freezing and whose nipples are harder than diamonds."
Making matters worse, McAvoy had to attack Willis while Willis was wearing a
camera rig. "So Bruce had a camera on steel poles, and the poles were coming out
the back of his costume," McAvoy says. "But thankfully Bruce is a gentle giant.
He was lovely."
To find the location for Raven Hill Hospital, Hagenbaugh had an inside track
on one that might fit the bill. "I had worked with the Commonwealth of
Pennsylvania before at a couple of their facilities, and I'd known that
Allentown State Hospital was closed for a few years, but I had never seen any
photos of it," she says. "As soon as I took one look at it, I knew that Night
was going to love it for his movie." She sent him the photos that a colleague of
hers had taken. "Within five my phone rang and Night was like, 'What is this
place? We have to go see it!' A couple of days later we were there and that was
that. He's such a visual person, and I think there was an immediate connection
to the location once he walked inside."
It was so perfect, in fact, that it helped shape the film itself. "We found
the hospital so early that Night was able to do some revisions to the script and
write to the location, and to really tailor, visually, what was happening in the
space," says producer Bienstock.
Shyamalan and Hagenbaugh spent a few days exploring the hospital, which had
been a psychiatric hospital from 1913, when it opened, until it closed in 2010.
At its peak in 1950 it housed more than 2,000 patients. "We started making a
list of which areas he really wanted to put in the movie," Hagenbaugh says. "He
found some areas that he loved and then wrote scenes especially for them."
One room that provided a particular bit of inspiration was a former day room
for the patients. "It was painted a bright Pepto-Bismol pink; it was pretty
incredible," Hagenbaugh says. "Night and Ashwin and I looked at it, and Night
really responded to it, but there were some difficulties with actually shooting
that room. So we ended up replicating that same look, that same pink room, in a
room one floor below it." Indeed, it became perhaps the most pivotal room in the
hospital, the room where Dr. Staple meets with Dunn, Price and Crumb together
for their group sessions.
In some ways, the hospital itself set the tone for the entire film. Because
it was the first location selected, Hagenbaugh says, it determined the visual
direction of everything else. "We wanted all locations to have that same kind of
vibe," she says. "Just a little bit eerie."
The cast and crew definitely felt that eerie vibe while shooting at the
"That's a spooky place to shoot," Jackson says. "Sometimes, going from the
set to the bathroom, you had to do a lot of long walks by yourself down those
hallways, make some turns and do some twists. It's a little creepy in there."
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