Ghost story Winchester films in Australian studio

Ghost story Winchester filmed on stages in Melbourne, Australia, doubling for California locations.

Ghost story Winchester filmed largely on stages in Melbourne, Australia, doubling for locations in San Jose, California.

The film stars Helen Mirren and is based on the true story of Sarah Winchester, who inherited vast wealth on the death of her husband in 1881, accumulated through sales of iconic American firearm the Winchester repeating rifle.

Ghost story Winchester films in Australian studio
Winchester

Sarah went on to build an immense labyrinthine mansion in California, apparently driven by the belief that she was haunted by the spirits of many of those killed by the rifle.

Sibling directors Michael and Peter Spierig spent a few days filming at the real mansion in San Jose for Winchester, but the movie was shot mostly on stages at Docklands Studios Melbourne in Australia.

The story follows the popular idea that Sarah took bizarre instructions from the spirit world as she had the house designed and built over decades, although it’s considered likely that some of the building’s more unusual features were a response to medical conditions and Sarah’s short stature.

Parts of the mansion’s most eccentric interior architecture – including staircases leading nowhere and doors opening onto walls – were recreated in detail on the Melbourne stages.

“With her arthritis, she (Sarah) had trouble walking up stairs and standard-sized stairs were too large and would cause her pain,” says Matt Puttland, the film’s production designer.

“She built risers that were only a few inches high. Recreating that on a set was quite a struggle since we needed to get a film crew, three actors, cameras and everything onto the set. A lot of the pieces had to be dismantled for camera access but still hold their integrity.”

Docklands Studios Melbourne offers five stages and has hosted international productions including the Oscar-nominated Lion, monster movie I, Frankenstein and US TV drama The Leftovers.

See KFTV's production guide for more on filming in Australia.

Images: Lionsgate

Ghost story Winchester films in Australian studio
Winchester

Ghost story Winchester filmed largely on stages in Melbourne, Australia, doubling for locations in San Jose, California.

The film stars Helen Mirren and is based on the true story of Sarah Winchester, who inherited vast wealth on the death of her husband in 1881, accumulated through sales of iconic American firearm the Winchester repeating rifle.

Sarah went on to build an immense labyrinthine mansion in California, apparently driven by the belief that she was haunted by the spirits of many of those killed by the rifle.

Sibling directors Michael and Peter Spierig spent a few days filming at the real mansion in San Jose for Winchester, but the movie was shot mostly on stages at Docklands Studios Melbourne in Australia.

The story follows the popular idea that Sarah took bizarre instructions from the spirit world as she had the house designed and built over decades, although it’s considered likely that some of the building’s more unusual features were a response to medical conditions and Sarah’s short stature.

Parts of the mansion’s most eccentric interior architecture – including staircases leading nowhere and doors opening onto walls – were recreated in detail on the Melbourne stages.

“With her arthritis, she (Sarah) had trouble walking up stairs and standard-sized stairs were too large and would cause her pain,” says Matt Puttland, the film’s production designer.

“She built risers that were only a few inches high. Recreating that on a set was quite a struggle since we needed to get a film crew, three actors, cameras and everything onto the set. A lot of the pieces had to be dismantled for camera access but still hold their integrity.”

Docklands Studios Melbourne offers five stages and has hosted international productions including the Oscar-nominated Lion, monster movie I, Frankenstein and US TV drama The Leftovers.

See KFTV's production guide for more on filming in Australia.

Images: Lionsgate

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