Studios Spotlight – 3 Mills Studios

Studios Spotlight – 3 Mills Studios
3 Mills Studios, image credit John Fielding

In the latest of our Studios Spotlight series, we hear from Caro Lakos about historic 3 Mills Studios in east London which, although just 30 minutes from central London, is set on an island oasis surrounded by green spaces. 

Can you tell us about the history of 3 Mills

3 Mills Studios site has a rich and varied history. Originally the location of working mills in the 16th century which ground flour for the bakers of Stratford, 3 Mills has gone through many transitions.

In 1872, the site was acquired by the Nicholson family, and became a major supplier for the London Gin Craze. Nicholson’s still produces gin today, and the remnants of 3 Mills Distillery history can still be seen onsite, with a number of large copper gin stills remaining in residence in several of the buildings.

The distillery

After sustaining severe air-raid damage in World War II, distilling ceased, and the site became a bottling plant until the 1990s. This would typically be the end of the story for one of London’s historical industrial sites, but with the establishment of of Bow Studios, 3 Mills Island Studios and Edwin Shirley Productions, the sites warehouses became a popular location for film and television production. The three companies eventually merged to become 3 Mills Studios.

3 Mills

In 2004, the site was purchased by the London Development Agency, with ownership transferring to the Olympic Park Legacy Company, the organisation responsible for planning, developing and managing the Olympic Park after the 2012 Olympic Games in 2010. 3 Mills Studios became the base for the Olympic and Paralympic ceremonies production teams and rehearsals, led by artistic director, Danny Boyle.

This company is now called the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), and is responsible for regeneration in East London in particular the planning, developing and managing of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park estate, near the 3 Mills site.

Since then, the 3 Mills Studios complex has been sensitively enhanced and upgraded and has hosted a multitude of production across all genres, including film, animations, TV drama and music videos, as well as rehearsal spaces for theatre and other live performance disciplines.

Can you detail some of the recent productions you have hosted? 

3 Mills has a long history with both British and international film and TV production. We’ve hosted a spate of feature productions from fantastic directors including Danny Boyle (28 Days Later, Trance, Sunshine), Wes Anderson (Isle of Dogs, Fantastic Mr Fox) Tim Burton (Corpse Bride, Frankenweenie), as well as brilliant TV series including The Royals, The Third Day (Sky), Slow Horses (Apple), This Way Up (Channel 4), and Extraordinary (Disney+), to name but a few!

Trance filming at 3 Mills

‘Having worked almost exclusively at 3 Mills for the last decade I can recommend the experience to anyone, whether you’re planning an Olympics or a zombie apocalypse, choose life at 3 Mills’ – Danny Boyle, director, London 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, Trance, Millions, 28 Weeks Later, Sunshine, 28 Days Later. 

Recently, we’ve been the UK base for Season 3 of The Great (Hulu), an award-winning satirical dark comedy based on the life of Catherine The Great of Russia – starring Nicholas Hoult and Elle Fanning.

The Great
BTS onset for The Great (MRC for Hulu)


This production has been with us at 3 Mills since 2018 when the pilot was filmed. Our studio provides an all-in-one solution, capable of not only providing sound stages for their decadent palace interiors, but also providing stores and workshops for their abundance of period props and costumes, offices for the hard-working production and art teams, hair & make-up (HMU) rooms, dining facilities, rehearsal rooms, and space for the unit base.

We have also been the home of MasterChef UK for nine years – you can see them walk down our river-lined cobbled streets in every series!

3 Mills

Have you noticed any changes in the last few years in the number or types of productions booking 3 Mills or enquiring about the space? 

Over the past few years, we have seen an increase in studio hire for HETV series from SVoD platforms, such as Netflix, Disney +, Sky, Hulu, Amazon and more.

We maintain a variety of stage sizes that can be combined to form a larger footprint, which is an attractive and flexible offering for the HETV industry in particular. Our campus-like atmosphere also plays a part, as crew return with fond memories of the site thanks to our lengthy history in the heart of the industry.

At the same time, 3 Mills has always been home to an eclectic range of film and television from both UK and international productions. One of our longest-running productions is Masterchef for the BBC (Shine TV), and we hope to continue to work with a variety of productions within the industry for many years to come.

3 Mills

What would you say are your studio’s standout offerings?  

It’s hard to beat being 30 minutes from central London, with fantastic public transport links, but additionally our site is also on a beautiful island oasis, surrounded by rivers, canals and green space.

We offer a full package of services: with nine sound stages, 10 rehearsal rooms, more than 200 production support spaces including offices, HMU, dressing rooms, prop stores, workshops, costume rooms, parking and unit base spaces, heritage-listed locations, and a new screening room, we have everything our clients could need to bring their project to life.

We are also a dry-hire facility, meaning our clients can use their own preferred suppliers.

Stage 11 3 Mills
Stage 11 in action

Do you think Covid highlighted any measures that have been adopted long term? 

The Covid 19 pandemic highlighted the seriousness with which staff wellness and health & safety should be taken by studios and productions. As a studio this is always something we have championed, and we work closely with each of our productions to ensure health & safety requirements are met at the highest possible standard.

With many thanks to Caro Lakos and the team at 3 Mills Studios for their help in compiling this article. Full details on 3 Mills Studios can be found on p22 of our current World of Studios guideTo book your place in the next edition, email or

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