A feasibility study commissioned just over a year ago has found that the Dagenham East area of London “is the ideal location for Hollywood-style studio space.” London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Film London and Barking and Dagenham Council shared findings of the report today and invited expressions of interest from investors, entrepreneurs and businesses with the formal tender process due to begin in 2018. In keeping with his post-Brexit “London is Open” campaign, Khan said, “I want London to be the most film-friendly city in the world.”
A new facility would be a boon to the local production sector which has already been booming for several years — the value of feature film production spend in the UK in 2016 was a record £1.6B, largely from inward investment. What’s more, the pound’s post-Brexit referendum drop has made it very economical to film in Britain.
But there are space issues. Hollywood studios increasingly shoot big-bugdet pics at Pinewood, Shepperton and Warner Bros’ Leavesden facility while the lucrative high-end TV tax credit introduced in 2013 has helped create a glut on soundstages.
Among key findings of the study outlined today are that demand for studio space has never been higher; that other studios already planning expansion will not be able to meet capacity needs on their own; and the potential creation of 780 full-time jobs.
The borough of Barking and Dagenham’s film office has already attracted such mega-productions as Disney/Marvel’s Avengers: Age Of Ultron and Doctor Strange. TV credits include ITV’s Liar and Netflix’s Black Mirror.
The project has received the support of such UK-based producers as Barbara Broccoli, Stephen Woolley and David Parfitt. If it goes ahead, it would be the British capital’s first new TV and film production studios in 25 years. It would join existing London outposts Ealing, Elstree, 3 Mills, Twickenham, ILM and Framestore.
Khan pushed for the studio today, saying, “London is a global capital for film — from Bond to Bridget Jones, and Star Wars to Paddington — our capital is world-renowned for its film industry and has at least 40 crews out on London’s streets filming every single day. But we mustn’t rest on our laurels… I am determined to do more to support economic growth and create new jobs across London. A new film studio in Dagenham East will bring hundreds of new jobs to the area, benefiting everyone from carpenters to camera operators.”
Adrian Wootton, Chief Executive of Film London and the British Film Commission, added, “This is a golden era for London’s screen industries, and the city’s success helps drive growth in film and TV production across the UK as a whole. However, such success brings its own challenges, and if we’re to maintain our position then we need to make sure we can continue to remain competitive and meet global demand. Film London does everything it can to facilitate major filming, from supporting expansion plans to unlocking ‘alternative’ studio space. New, purpose-built facilities in Dagenham promise to be a tremendous boon for our industry and cement our status as one a global center for content production.”