The UK could see investment from the film industry double to £3 billion over the next few years if creative businesses grasp the opportunities that are available, according to businessman John Lewis.
Mr Lewis says the UK film industry which has traditionally focused on the west of London needs to look to the east of the Capital where there is enormous potential for growth at really cost-effective rates.
Mr Lewis, Managing Director of SOG Group which has recently launched Londoneast-uk Business and Technical Park, in Dagenham, east London, says his own location could hold the answer to a critical shortage of studio capacity for the UK film and TV industry.
“I can see the potential for the film industry in Dagenham to become bigger than the car industry was,” he told a gathering of filming partners and location managers at the Tower of London on Monday evening (September 28).
Mr Lewis believes London could become the world’s premier city for the movie industry if creative companies take full advantage of east London’s manifold benefits and the wealth of inward investment opportunities it represents.
Londoneast-uk, situated at the former manufacturing plant of global pharmaceutical company Sanofi, has already proved popular for production companies with a host of feature films and television programmes shot at the site. Now Mr Lewis says he can provide film makers with far more than simply a great location by introducing a permanent studio facility at the site.
Mr Lewis says London is extremely popular with film makers because of the multitude of iconic locations but that as the capital expands east, the film industry needs to be encouraged to look east as well.
The Londoneast-uk site has already featured in prime time TV dramas including Channel Four’s Humans, ITV’s Code of a Killer and was also used for the Avengers: Age of Ultron movie. It is currently playing host to Eleventh Hour Films’ New Blood – a new crime drama commissioned by the BBC and written by Anthony Horowitz – providing production offices as well as a number of sets ranging from police stations to warehouses and hospital wards.
Mr Lewis says Londoneast-uk offers much more than simply a filming location and he now wants to develop a film studio on the site to complement Pinewood and Elstree. He says it would meet the immediate demand for more studio space in the UK in an area of London which would have far more competitive rates than the rest of the Capital.
However, he said creative companies including props, lighting, sound, costumes and rigging – currently located in the west of London – need to open satellite offices and warehouses in east London to support the development.
He added that while Dagenham is only 12 miles from City Hall, its relatively recent entry into the world of big-budget filmmaking means the area is not yet synonymous with London’s wider industry offer. Work to redress this is well underway, however, and Mr Lewis suggested the industry’s march east was all but inevitable.
He said: “The film industry and high-end television attracted £1.5 billion of production spend in the UK last year and there are fantastic opportunities for more growth but we haven’t got the capacity to meet this demand. If we do, I believe London could help double that level of investment to £3 billion over the next few years and it is up to the industry to grasp this opportunity.”
Mr Lewis also highlighted the importance of networks like the London Filming Partnership, which exist to connect experts across the film and television industries and ensure London maintains its status as a city whose doors are well and truly open to the global screen industries.
Londoneast-uk, owned by SOG Group, is a sister site to The Heath Business and Technical Park in Runcorn, Cheshire, which was the location for leading TV productions including Grange Hill, Mersey Beat and Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps.
Londoneast-uk Business and Technical Park is situated in Dagenham, east London, and is located in state-of-the-art scientific buildings and land which was once a major manufacturing plant of global pharmaceutical company Sanofi.
Now under the ownership of SOG Group – owner and operator of the award-winning Heath Business and Technical Park in Cheshire –highly specialised research & development and manufacturing buildings, which would cost tens of millions of pounds to replicate in today’s market, have been rebranded under the banner of Londoneast-uk and are being transformed into a business and technical park to service London and the Home Counties Londoneast-uk operates as a sister park to The Heath in Runcorn which is regarded as one of the UK’s leading independently-owned technology parks. For more information visit: www.londoneast-uk.com