Ducting in TV & Film Production

Ducting can be extremely versatile. It comes in all shapes & sizes & it can be used for a variety of purposes. Because of this, it is an extremely important material for film studios, production companies & prop makers. Not only that, but ducting & ventilation can make for a useful plot device for screenwriters. It provides a convenient means of getting protagonists into or out of a given situation.

If you’ve ever watched a science fiction film or TV programme, you’ve seen ducting in use. In fact, here are a few of the starring roles that ducting has played in TV & film. As ducting doesn’t get a movie credit, it’s not easy to go onto the Internet Movie Database & see what films it’s been in, but we’ve compiled a list of some of the most famous:


Ducting Red Dwarf 

 Many of the sets of Red Dwarf had ducting run throughout the ship. There is even an episode called Duct Soup which has the characters trying to get out of a room after a power outage only to find that Lister is claustrophobic. After several hours of crawling around, they end up in the same room.

Red Dwarf Ventilation

Ducting in Aliens

The production design for all of the Alien movies incorporated a lot of ducting & in Aliens, Wynona Ryder lived in the ventilation system. There is a suspenseful scene where the Aliens close in on the cast through the space in the ceiling & then Newt finds an escape route in the ventilation system.

Aliens Ventilation

Ducting Set Design in Mission: Impossible Movies

Ventilation systems are often plot devices in films. You will have seen Tom Cruise climbing through one in Mission: Impossible in order to break into the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia only to be nearly dropped onto the floor. In M1:2, Tom Cruise does a skydive into the atrium of a building.

mission impossible ventilation

Star Wars Movies & Ventilation

In Star Wars, the characters got into the garbage compactor by jumping into a duct in the Death Star & ventilation systems have been mainstays of Star Trek & many other films. In the Phantom Menace, the Jedi go up a ventilation shaft to avoid the Trade Federation. This has turned into a meme on the Internet, for some reason.

Where was the scene in the Empire Strikes Back where Darth Vader tells Luke he is his father if not one of the largest ventilation shafts ever conceived? Finally, Star Wars: A New Hope is built on the weakness of the Death Star due to an exposed thermal exhaust port: these references are everywhere when you see them.

Vader father

Die Hard – A Movie About Ducting

Die Hard could be called the ultimate ducting movie. Bruce Willis spends much of the movie crawling around in the ducting to evade his foe & even has to avoid being shot through the ducting.

Die Hard Ventilation

But Ducting can be even more versatile. It can provide a look. Flexible ducting can be used to create a futuristic or ridged look for clothing (or space suits) & metal ducting & spiral ducting has been used to create parts for engines & cars and can be easily cut for anything metallic.

Car exhaust ducting

When you next watch a movie or TV programme, see if you can spot a piece of ducting. It will most probably be in the set design but you can often spot it on clothes, on cars & on other objects.

If you’re looking to use ducting in set design, prop-making or production design, please give us a call. Not only do we have a wide range of stock of weird & wonderful ducting but we have a significant amount of experience in consulting with film studios & production companies to help them find something that will suit the look & feel of their films. Please feel free to contact us & ask any questions.