Science Fiction

Filming Locations for Midnight Sky on Netflix


Wondering where Midnight Sky was filmed? The new film on Netflix starring and directed by George Clooney features some stunning filming locations all over the world. Midnight Sky is based on the book Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton. Clooney plays Augustine, a scientist who has dedicated his life to discovering alternate planets for humans to inhabit. His life’s work has made him a respected scientist, but has come at the expense of his personal life. Through flashbacks, we see the doomed relationship with his wife Jean Sullivan (played by Sophie Rundle who you’ve seen in Peaky Blinders, Jamestown, Bodyguard, and more). When Midnight Sky opens, Augustine is working at the Barbeau Observatory in the Arctic Circle. Battling a terminal illness, he has chosen to remain behind while the base is evacuated. An unspecified cataclysmic event has taken place, creating unbreathable air for most of the earth. The human population has been decimated, with some escaping underground.

Augustine is doing daily blood transfusions to extend his life and is shocked to discover a small girl (played by a luminous Caoilinn Springall) left behind at the base. At the same time, he also realizes there is one space mission still out there that is not aware of what has happened on earth. A lingering shot on the profile of one of the astronauts, played by Felicity Jones, gives a sense of what might be coming next.

George Clooney and Caoilinn Springall in Midnight Sky. Photo courtesy Netflix

Up in the space craft Æther, Jones and her fellow astronauts played by David Oyelowo, Tiffany Boone, Demián Bichir, and Kyle Chandler, struggle to get contact with anybody at earth, including NASA. Augustine realizes the antenna at his base is not powerful enough to reach Æther, so he and the girl head off on a life-threatening mission to get to another base in the Arctic Circle at Lake Hazen with a stronger antenna. The result is a moving story, despite an uneven narrative, that takes place simultaneously on earth and in space.

Here are the filming locations for Midnight Sky!

1. Barbeau Observatory

George Clooney as Augustine at the Barbeau Observatory. Photo by Philippe Antonello/NETFLIX ©2020

The Barbeau Observatory in the Arctic Circle is a fictional place, but if you are looking for an actual observatory the crew may have used as a filming location, you’d be out of luck. The observatory was created using CGI taking heavy inspiration from the Gran Telescopio Canarias, a reflecting telescope located at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory in in La Palma on the Canary Islands. According to the observatory’s official website, “At Roque de los Muchachos Observatory (ORM), on the rim of the Taburiente National Park, at 2396 metres above sea level in the municipality of Garafía (La Palma) stands one of the largest arrays of telescopes in the world.” There’s no snow around, and the low modern building on pilotis (like stilts) that houses the cafeteria and the dorms doesn’t exist like in Midnight Sky. 

2. Island Where Young Augustine Works

In a flashback, we see Augustine’s ex-wife Jean visit the island observatory where he’s working. She has a young daughter with her, and this is the first scene in which we realize she and Augustine had a child together. Conveniently, this scene is filmed at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory. We don’t see the Gran Telescopio Canarias of course, since it serves as the inspiration for the Barbeau Observatory. A structure seen in the background at the observatory is the Cherenkov Telescope Array.

3. Iceland

George Clooney in Midnight Sky. Photo courtesy Netflix

Scenes in the trek that the young girl and Augustine takes to the other observatory in the Arctic Circle are filmed in Iceland, where scenes from Beyond the Wall were filmed for Game of Thrones. The scene of the evacuation was filmed at Skálafellsjökull glacier located in Vatnajökull National Park, also a setting in Game of Thrones. 

THE MIDNIGHT SKY (2020). George Clooney as Augustine and Caoilinn Springall as Iris. Photo: Philippe Antonello/NETFLIX

Clooney told The Hollywood Reporter about the experience of filming the scenes in Iceland:  “It wasn’t a snowstorm. There were these winds, sort of tornados, that would be coming toward you and we waited for them. We had whistles and we had string tied to ourselves so that we could never get too far apart, because you couldn’t see your hand if you held it out when these wind gusts came in.” And because Clooney was also directing, the minute he called “Cut,” “they would have to blow a hair dryer on my eyelids to unfreeze them because they would freeze shut. And then I’d come running out going, ‘All right, let’s move!’ And we’d grab all the equipment and move to the next location.”

4. Æther Space Craft

THE MIDNIGHT SKY (2020). Kyle Chandler as Mitchell. Cr. Philippe Antonello/NETFLIX ©2020

The scenes in space and on Æther are filmed in Shepperton Studios in Surrey, England as well as the interior scenes of the Barbeau Observatory. The Icelandic landscape was added through the windows of the set that serves as the modern building attached to the telescope. According to cinematographer Martin Ruhe “Everything you see throughout the research facility’s windows was one of those giant LED screens. We had a 120-feet-by-20-feet LED screen. We could use the LED wall to light with the right amount of ambience so it would look real. We had giant windows, and in those windows we shot reflections. When Augustine drinks his morning coffee, he looks out, and you see the reflection of the morning light, and that’s basically shot with that technique.”

THE MIDNIGHT SKY (2020). Director George Clooney on set at Shepperton Studios with David Oyelowo and Tiffany Boone on the set of The Midnight Sky. Cr. Philippe Antonello/NETFLIX ©2020

Check out more filming locations on our sister site, Untapped New York.

By Michelle Young

Michelle Young is the founder of Untapped New York. Michelle is a graduate of Harvard College in the History of Art and Architecture and holds a master’s degree in urban planning from Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, where she is an Adjunct Professor of Architecture. She is the author of Secret Brooklyn: An Unusual Guide, New York: Hidden Bars & Restaurants, and Broadway. She has worked as a film location scout for VICE Media.

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