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Location Scouting in New Hampshire

The background of a film or commercial has a huge impact on the overall ambiance, and location scouts have the important role of finding the right place to capture the atmosphere a filmmaker is looking for. Plenty of successful films have been shot in New Hampshire, from Jumanji starring Robin Williams, to the 1962 version of Lolita, so consider this list of locations for your next film or commercial.

City life in New Hampshire

City settings are often used in films and commercials across all sorts of genres, and New Hampshire has some great options for scouts looking for city locations. Here are just a few selections to think about when considering a city backdrop in the Granite State. 

Portsmouth, home to the New Hampshire Film Festival, is located in southeastern New Hampshire, just ten minutes away from the nearest beach. Portsmouth has widely been considered the best city in New Hampshire, and it is most certainly one of the prettiest. Portsmouth has a suburban feel with a lively downtown area, and would serve as a great backdrop. 

Here are a few specific sites to check out in Portsmouth– Prescott Park: A water-front park in the downtown area with gardens and live performances on summer nights; the park would make a beautiful backdrop year round. Market Square: The heart of Downtown Portsmouth with lots of activity amongst the area’s shops, restaurants, and art galleries. Strawbery Banke Museum: With a community of historic buildings, Strawbery Banke could serve as a great background for a period piece, with structures built dating back as far as 1695. 

Another great option to consider is Concord. Concord is the capital of New Hampshire and is one of the smallest capital cities in the country. Despite its small size, Concord has lots to offer for scouts looking for the next filming location. Besides the golden dome atop the State House, there is rich history among the beautiful brick buildings lining Main Street, which is the heart of Downtown Concord. 

Here are a few specific sites to check out in Concord– The State Capitol Building of New Hampshire: The Capitol Building in Concord is home to the Governor, Executive Council, and General Courts. The building is topped with a golden dome and the grounds are open to the public, making this a great backdrop for projects having to do with politics. Carter Hill Orchard: The orchard at Carter Hill has been there since the 18th century and has since expanded for a wide variety of apple picking. An apple orchard could make for a cute scene in a film or commercial. Canterbury Shaker Village: A historic site and museum in Concord, similar to Strawbery Banke in Portsmouth, the Canterbury Shaker Village was founded for the Shaker community in the 19th century and has been declared a National Historic Landmark. The style of houses and the maintained architecture and interior design would make this another great spot for a period piece. 

Manchester is another location to think about when scouting in New Hampshire. Manchester is the state’s largest city and is home to a lively arts scene with a more dense population. The streets are lined with historic brick buildings and the city is located along the Merrimack River.

Here are a few specific sites to check out in Manchester– The Mall of New Hampshire: The mall has over 100 stores and has lots of people and space to make the perfect site for a film or commercial set in a shopping mall. The Northeast Delta Dental Stadium: A baseball stadium for a quintessential ballgame backdrop. Palace Theater: A classic looking theater with red seats and beautiful architecture from the early 1900s, a great site whether you want to film something on a stage or in an audience. 

College towns

College towns and campuses are also frequently used as backdrops whether it be for cinematic or commercial purposes, and New Hampshire has lots to choose from on that end. Although there are many colleges and universities to choose from in the state, here are just a few to consider when scouting a college backdrop.

The University of New Hampshire is located in Durham and is one of the largest universities in the state. Although there is a campus in Manchester, the main campus in Durham has over 14,000 students, 27 residence halls, and a suburban feel with many small businesses and Durham residents existing among and between the students and academic buildings. Some specific buildings at UNH to get that college backdrop feel are the Field House, Memorial Union Building (known as the “MUB”), and Diamond Library

Keene State College is in another suburban area with a slightly more rural feel, being in the city of Keene. With just over 4,000 students, Keene State is ideal for a small college setting with lots of trees and brick architecture, looking picturesque, especially in autumn. Some of the buildings on campus to think about setting up your film site are Zorn Dining Commons, Mason Library, or Thorne-Sagendorph Art Gallery.

Additionally, there is Dartmouth College in Hanover. One of eight ivy league institutions, setting your film or commercial at Dartmouth will certainly send a message about the characters attending this school. Similarly to Keene, Dartmouth also has just over 4,500 students and is in a suburban setting with lots of trees. Some places to think about filming are Baker Library, Hopkins Center for the Arts, or Cummings Hall. 

Amusement parks

Amusement parks, carnivals, and festivals always make a great backdrop for films, and New Hampshire does not fall short of options for these kinds of locations. From the Apple Harvest Festival in Dover, to the Deerfield Fair, there are plenty of local events annually to choose from. Additionally, here are just a few amusement parks that would serve as great backdrops when searching for that atmosphere.

Canobie Lake Park is an amusement park located in Salem, NH and has been open since 1902. The park is open throughout the summer until Labor Day, and also opens back up at the end of September and until the end of October for SCREEEMFEST. Canobie has 85 rides and is built over 375 acres bordering Canobie Lake, making it the ideal amusement park backdrop in New Hampshire.

Story Land is another amusement park located in Glen and is more targeted towards children. Despite the typically younger crowds, the park has started doing “Nostalgia Nights” for 21+ crowds to relive some childhood memories. The park appears almost animated with storybook themed rides and buildings, and would certainly make for a unique location for a film or commercial.

New Hampshire has lots of water amusement parks throughout the state, and one to consider for this kind of environment is Water Country in Portsmouth. Water Country has 19 attractions including all sorts of slides and pools. When looking for a water park background, Water Country could be the location for scouts to choose. 

Beaches, Lakes, and Nature

With New Hampshire being located right on the Coast, there are several beaches open to the public that could serve as beautiful backdrops for an oceanic setting, especially in the summertime. One beach to consider is Hampton Beach, which has a long stretch of sand and a neighboring boardwalk with lively activity amongst arcades, ice cream parlors, and much more. Another great beach in New Hampshire that doubles as a state park is Wallis Sands in Rye, which is less of a city based beach with more of a natural environment.

If scouts are interested in a scene with more of a mix of greenery and bodies of water, New Hampshire also has lots of lakes and rivers located in more central New Hampshire in the White Mountains area. State parks with camping are often located in the woods next to lakes, for example White Lake State Park. These types of camp or lake settings are perfect backdrops for serene mountain or water views.  

Speaking of mountains, there are loads of mountains in New Hampshire that can be used for a variety of purposes in films and commercials. Skiing and hiking are classic New Hampshirite activities, and finding the right mountain to film at won’t be too difficult considering how beautiful they all are. Some mountains with great hiking trails include Mount Major or Blue Job, and some ski mountains include Gunstock or Bretton Woods, and many many more. 

Are you a lover of film? Join us at the 20th Anniversary of the New Hampshire FIlm Festival, this October 6-9th in Portsmouth, NH!

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