One of the most iconic sitcoms ever, Friends ran for 10 years. Filmed in the 90s and 2000s, the show is still viewed around the world in countless reruns. Almost everyone is familiar with the adventures of Ross, Rachel, Monica, Chandler, Phoebe, and Joey.
Warner Brothers Studios
While set in Manhattan, the entire series was filmed at the Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank, California. Like other traditional sitcoms, Friends was filmed three-camera style in front of a live studio audience. The first season was filmed on stage 5. Once the show was a hit, production moved to stage 24, due to it’s larger size. Once the series ended, Warner Bros. renamed it “The Friends Stage” in honour of the show.
Generally, once a show ends, they dismantle the set. In recent years, however, studios have started to realize the value in preserving the set. Warner Bros. decided to do something unique, and include the Central Perk set as part of their studio tour. It was first set up in the props warehouse, where fans could sit on the iconic orange couch and take a photo.
Several years later, WB created Stage 48, a large interactive museum that was the finishing point of the tours. They moved the Central Perk set to be part of this experience. You can have a personal and professional photo taken on the set. They even give you the change to participate in a recreation of a Friends scene.
The Warner Bros. Studios has various backlots that were used for filming Friends scenes that couldn’t be filmed indoors. Studios like Warner Bros. are experts in using the same location over and over. Using slight cosmetic alterations and different camera angles, you’d never know you are seeing the same sets over and over again.
Along Hennessy Street is a back alley that was the setting for a memorable scene. This is where Rachel and Monica hid while checking out Jean Claude Van Damme as he was filming a movie.
Warner Bros. has a small field which was used as a city park where Ross joins a game of Rugby. There is also a small park with trees which was used to film Phoebe running through Central Park.
There are several houses located Midwest Street, and one of them was used in a memorable episode of Friends. In “The One With The Prom Video” they flash back to home videos taken before Monica and Rachel’s prom. One of the backlot homes was used for these home videos. The producers wanted to make it appear the video was taken in a real house as opposed to a set.
New York City
New York City is home to the apartment building from Friends. It is located at the corner of Bedford and Grove Streets in Greenwich Village. The exterior of this building was used for establishing shots in almost every episode, and will be instantly recognizable. While the actors never filmed scenes there, the building is a bucket list location for any Friends fan.
Tour guides in NYC love to point out the famous Friends fountain, from the opening credits. Often, guides will suggest you go have your photo taken at the Friends fountain. They may direct you to the fountain at Washington Square Park, or Cherry Hill or Bethesda Terrace in Central Park. The only catch is, they are all wrong. They might be misleading you or just mistaken, but none of the fountains are on Friends.
The actual fountain used is located at the Warner Bros. Ranch, which is a separate location from the main Warner Bros. Studios. The Ranch is a small studio, but features a park in the centre, with a functioning fountain. Just across the street is a row of European style apartment buildings. The twinkling lights of the Manhattan skyline were added in post-production. Unfortunately the Ranch is not open to the public, so getting a picture at the Friends fountain is almost impossible. The closest you can get is peak in the gate. You can catch a glimpse of some of the buildings in the distance.
If you have any questions or thoughts about Friends or the filming locations, please share with me in the comment section below.