Essex Showcased to Film & TV Industry



Screen East, the regional screen agency for the East of England, led a familiarisation trip in March to showcase the wealth of locations available in west Essex to leading UK film and TV location managers. The visit illustrated how the county is not only an ideal destination for filming, but it also offers a genuine alternative for productions wanting to film close to the M25 and away from the expense of shooting in the capital.

In 2009/10, film and TV location filming was worth an estimated £2 million to the Essex economy. Essex County Council is keen to promote the county to upcoming productions and as such sponsor Screen East’s activities to encourage productions to come to Essex and film at the diverse locations available.

The familiarisation trip began at Tilbury Docks, with the cruise terminal and its magnificent art deco interiors, the 1920’s old station building and the passenger landing areas over The Thames proving a hit. The location managers were particularly impressed with the dockland areas themselves. This site is particularly film-friendly having featured in a variety of productions as a backdrop including 2005’s Batman Begins.
Next was Coalhouse Fort, which was also used in Batman Begins providing a double for a South East Asian prison. With its unique tunnel network and surrounding flat marshland landscape there is much scope for future filming possibilities. The tour continued to The Bata Factories which have dominated the town of East Tilbury for over 70 years and was where, along with the factory, a small town of Modernist style housing was constructed for its workers known locally as Bata-ville. As property developers convert or demolish old factory and office buildings these types of locations are becoming in short supply hence the site was included on the tour.

The Headley, an elegant 2 star Michelin pub situated in the picturesque corner of Headley Common, provided an ideal luncheon venue for the group as well as the potential for a future filming location. After lunch, the tour progressed to Hylands House, which doubled for the White House in 2004’s Chasing Liberty.

Then it was off to the woods for a tour of Epping Forest, hosted by the Corporation of London who pointed out locations in the forest which had successfully been used as filming locations in the past, including 2000’s Essex Boys. Epping Forest has previously offered a backdrop for a variety of both English and foreign landscapes given its diverse mix of wood and heathland. 

The final location on the tour was a visit to Copped Hall, a well-preserved shell of what had been a fine Georgian mansion. Copped Hall also has an interesting network of underground cellars offering the potential for a unique filming backdrop. Previous filming at Copped Hall has included 2007’s Flyboys where a complex World War I shoot was accommodated.

Location managers attending the familiarisation trip said: “Fam trips provide Location Managers with invaluable information and contacts for future shoots” - Mick Ratman; “Filming in any area can be stressful. Screen East, with their specialist local knowledge, local council contacts and location database make the process so much easier, allowing for a more pleasant and efficient filming process. I look forward to returning to the area with another production soon” – Richard Godfrey; and “It’s always difficult to know when we are going to require a particular location but knowing what a county has to offer and that the region is film friendly, naturally puts it at the top of my research list. An excellent trip with lots of new locations” – Roland Caine.

Screen East has hosted previous familiarisation trips to Essex as well as other counties in the East of England. Kerry Ixer, Head of Locations at Screen East said, “Hosting familiarisation trips is one way in which Screen East can market the diverse locations available to filmmakers and show firsthand how film friendly the region is. A location manager’s job is to find the most suitable location to satisfy the director’s vision, a search that can take months of research and scouting. Our familiarisation trips aim to showcase hidden gems for future film related projects”.

Screen East is also a partner in the North Sea Screen Partners (NSSP), an activity funded under the Interreg IVB North Sea Region Programme, working towards strengthening the European digital content industry and ensuring the North Sea Region obtains a significant share of a dynamic and growing market. One of the partners’ objectives is to attract inward investment through film and television into the North Sea Region which includes Essex. It is therefore anticipated that this familiarisation visit will help encourage productions to film in the county.

Essex’s location filming show reel includes many other exciting films and television dramas such as Oscar winning The Queen, staring Helen Mirren who was born in Ilford in Essex, which filmed at London Southend Airport and Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade which was filmed at Tilbury Docks for the Venetian speedboat chase scene. 

For more information contact Claire Treadwell on 01603 776926 or visit www.screeneast.co.uk