Guerrilla filmed on streets of London
Sky Atlantic and Showtime’s new political drama, Guerrilla, filmed at various locations across London over three months last year.
The six-part series is set against a background of political and social activism in 1970s London, and centres on the Black Panther movement. Idris Elba, Babou Ceesay and Frieda Pinto star.
Written by John Ridley (12 Years a Slave), it was originally due to be set in San Francisco, but Ridley felt there was a story still to be told about the London side of the movement.
Shooting began on the Fifty Fathoms show in early August and a few weeks later 450 cast and crew landed in Islington to film in four streets. Script editor Anna Ssemuyaba explained: “John Ridley’s research was meticulous. He spent months talking to London Black Panthers including Darcus Howe, Farrukh Dhondy, Neil Kenlock and Leila Howe, and brought them right in to the process as script advisors.
“They understood that whilst the characters in Guerrilla are fictional, the world John’s created is wholly real – and they were integral in bringing this story to life.”
She went on to describe how the visual authenticity of 1970s London was achieved: “The production designer Paul Cross referred to photographs Neil Kenlock took at the time to recreate the look with painstaking care – right down to creating accurate labels for the beer bottles. The art department completely took over the streets ahead of filming.
“Around Mountgrove Street in Islington we were filming dramatic riots set in early 1970s west London. In fact that neighbourhood was also important to the Black Panthers in real life. They bought a house in Tollington Park with a donation from the art critic John Berger. When John Berger won the Booker prize in 1972, he gave half the winnings to London’s Black Panthers.”
FilmFixer manages multiple film offices across London, including Islington, where much of the action was shot. Locations used included the Candid Arts Centre on Torrens Street, the Sobell Leisure Centre, which doubled for a prison, and the Mountgrove Garage at Finsbury Park.
The borough of Lewisham hosted several key scenes including a meeting of the underground cell at Goddard’s Pie Shop on Deptford High Street.
Other key London locations seen in the drama include the exterior of Hornsey Town Hall (the scene of a peaceful protest), Bedford Square in Camden, Red Lion Square in Holborn, Ye Olde Mitre pub in Hatton Garden, Warren Street and Grafton Mews.
Lambeth streets were also used including Atlantic Road, Padfield Road and Coldharbour Lane.
FilmFixer director Karen Everett says: "It was extraordinary to see our streets transformed in this way and a real testament to Londoners who welcomed the shoot as part of their cultural history.”
Guerrilla is made by Fifty Fathoms, Green Door Pictures, International Famous Players Radio Picture Corporation and ABC Signature, and begins transmission on Sky Atantic today (13 April 2017).
Location/crew photos via Lise Colyer of FilmFixer.
Idris Elba photo via Getty Images/FilmMagic/Phillip Faraone.
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