Studios Spotlight: Behind the scenes at London Film Studios
With so many new and expanding studio spaces springing up around the UK, we are taking a look behind the scenes of some of the facilities – many of which are highlighted in our supplement, now called World of Studios - UK.
The next edition is due out at the end of 2022 – and now open for bookings so get in touch!
Officially launching this week (w/c 20 September), London Film Studios (LFS) is a shiny new studio complex, situated on the banks of the River Lee Navigation in Enfield, North London; it has just opened its doors with a range of productions already booked in.
London Film Studios is the brainchild of Danny Hayward, who co-founded SHL Film & TV Lighting in 2008. We spoke to Danny about the shiny new facility, the range of productions it can host and his plans for the future.
Can you fill us in a little about the history and funding of London Film Studios?
London Film Studios has come off the back of many years working within lighting and rigging for film and television. It’s a purpose-built space because I wanted to create a studio complex that tackled some of the problems a production can face when it goes into an unknown stage, particularly when it comes to infrastructure.
The complex itself was self-funded and built in 2020, despite the challenges of the pandemic, with an ambition to bring the TV and film industry to our home turf of north London, where we grew up, instead of south, east and west London, which is where the bulk of our previous work had been.
The initial plan for the complex was three stages with a depot for SHL [the film services side of the operation], giving us the ability to provide full, in-house lighting and rigging to any production, making the overall operation much more sustainable.
Since then, we’ve expanded rapidly, adding two more stages, including a black stage, meaning we’re one of only a few studio complexes in London to have a black stage.
What genre and scale of productions have you hosted?
We cover a broad range of productions covering everything from film and TV through to commercials, music videos and fashion.
It’s an interesting mix that is only possible because of the flexibility of the stages we have. We’ve hosted productions for the likes of AMG Mercedes, Adidas, Nike, Facebook/Meta, McDonald’s and KFC, to name a few, who all filmed their latest ad campaigns with us.
We’ve had the likes of Stormzy, FKA Twigs, Arctic Monkeys, Ed Sheeran and Lewis Capaldi all in shooting their latest promos and we recently built a Moroccan market for a US hip-hop artist that included live chickens and dogs!
For Lewis Capaldi, we installed a 75-tonne water tank, which was a bit of a challenge. In terms of fashion, we’ve delivered productions for the likes of Gucci, Miu Miu and Marc Jacobs among others.
Ultimately, commercials, fashion and promos work best in the space but because of our flexibility we can easily accommodate most things. We have previously had multiple-set TV shows spread across the complex and that has worked really well, so we’re pretty comfortable with most kinds of productions coming in and utilising the facilities that we have.
What would you say is your studio’s standout offering? Can you explain a little about the tie-in with [film services company] SHL?
As I mentioned, it’s the way that we have built the stages. My background is as a gaffer and I have designed and built the stages with that consideration in mind. Our stages have motorised grids unlike any other. We 3-phase power sources on both sides of the stage, one specifically for dimmer packs which eliminates the need for cables to be trunked across the length of the stage. It makes the whole process much simpler and much safer.
We also have some of the biggest cove studios in the UK, which also feature drive-in capabilities meaning productions can roll in and roll out much more efficiently and conveniently. Because of SHL we also have on-site lighting and rigging available to all crews, making us much more cost-effective and much more sustainable to productions.
Finally, our stages themselves. We have some of the highest stages in London, as well as a broad range of stages covering white, green and black - something that few studio complexes can offer.
Ultimately, SHL thought it could do studios better and London Film Studios is the result of that ambition.
Do you think Covid has highlighted any safety measures that may be adopted long-term for anyone using the studio?
Undoubtedly. The pandemic forced anyone operating in the production space to rethink process and protocol and that’s what everyone did, including us. London Film Studios is a safe space and we want to look to the future not dwell on the past.
What are your expansion plans?
Since first opening the complex in 2020 we’ve already expanded significantly. We’ve added to more stages, including the black stage and we have a long-term roadmap in place. Ultimately, our ambition is to make London Film Studios the leading studio complex in London. We are in an unrivalled location and have the ability to grow exponentially. We have also recently started our expansion to Manchester, and we’ll be making further announcements around that at a later date.
With many thanks to Danny Hayward, founder and MD of London Film Studios and MD of SHL, for his help in compiling this article.
Also on The Knowledge
BFI’s chief executive Ben Roberts will be the keynote speaker at Film London’s Production Finance Market (PFM) which runs as part of the BFI London Film Festival (LFF, October 5 – 16).
Channel 4 has launched its 2022 Emerging Indie Fund which offers small Nations-and-Regions-based indies the opportunity to take their businesses to the next level.
The Welsh government has launched a scheme to develop the country's existing and future generation of screen industry talent.
International co-production will be a priority for the British Film Institute (BFI) as part of its 10-year strategy, Screen Culture 2033, announced on Friday (23 September).
HBO Max is readying a female-focused erotic thriller from The Essex Serpent writer Anna Symon and Peaky Blinders indie Tiger Aspect, as revealed by Broadcast.
The SVoDs’ spend with British indies slipped for the first time last year to below £300m, according to Pact.