Behind the scenes with Film London as it celebrates its 10th birthday

By Rachel Bishop on May 10, 2014 9:55 AM |

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As Film London celebrates its 10th birthday this week, its chief executive Adrian Wootton explains how it organises filming in one of the busiest cities in the world and what the company has in store for the future.

Film London works to assist domestic and international productions, increasing inward investment to London and to the UK while ensuring the capital remains a premier destination for filming.

The team works closely with London's 33 local authorities and the country's major studios including Pinewood, Shepperton, Ealing, 3 Mills, Wimbledon, Elstree and Leavesden.

How has Film London changed and adapted with the city to enhance filming opportunities in the last decade?

Ten years ago filming in London had a terrible reputation - people felt it was too bureaucratic and a lengthy process to get filming sorted.

We have had to spend a long time just encouraging companies to come to London alongside making it easier to film here.

We launched the London Filming Partnership in 2005, which makes London a film friendly city, we have worked with local authorities and Royal Parks to look at making charges for filming the same and simple to understand.

We have also set up the Film Unit with the Metropolitan Police, which gives consistency to productions filming in London.

Before there was no real connection between different organisations and authorities to be able to help film productions.

London being as manic as it is, how do you manage to get parts of it closed for filming?

We have seen a big change with the introduction of the Local Authorities and Transport for London (LLA & TfL) Bill in 2008, which enables film crews to shut roads.

Before we had to have people standing holding the traffic. We argued that for health and safety reasons and to enable film companies to do things properly it would be beneficial to close the roads.

What are the most recent changes to filming in the capital that have influenced productions coming over here?

The introduction of tax breaks for film in autumn and for research and development of games this month, which we were instrumental in getting passed, has meant a lot more companies are interested in the capital.

With this huge volume of productions now coming over, we have been presented with new challenges - new companies set us challenges to do things bigger and better. With filming 24, they wanted to film at night in Wembley Stadium with a helicopter overhead - this was something we had never experienced before.

The amazing thing is we are making them happen. Maybe 10 years ago we would have had to say, actually I don't think we can do that.

What are you looking to for the future of the company and filming in London?
With the huge influx of film companies coming in now we want to provide the best people to help on productions, so we have been training new staff to meet demand.

The main thing is to not get complacent. We want to make it even easier and faster to film productions.

I want London to be the global connected capital of the world - I don't see why in the next 10 years we cannot do that.

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CASE STUDY:

24: Live Another Day hit our screens this week with a new series, in which a huge amount of the scenes were filmed in Tower Hamlets.

Fox Network made their way across the pond to London in January to film this season's new story featuring Jack Bauer.

The Film Office, which manages filming and photography for Tower Hamlets and private locations, assisted in creating explosive action scenes, closing roads and liaised with residents and businesses.

A spokesman said: "It's a promising start to welcome a major and successful series to our great city and paves the way for 24 to embrace the work The Film Office and Tower Hamlets do to provide productions with safe and reliable services in 2014."

In a letter to The Film Office Kate Arton, head of production/producer said: "We could not have done it without you. A huge thank you to you and your team."

Key locations

■ Cobb Street where the promo was filmed.
■ Warehouse in Morden Wharf Road on the river foreshore in North Greenwich.
■ The Gherkin.