New film studios in Dagenham will bring lots of opportunities for local residents

By Marvel Kalukembi, Research and Admin Assistant

In November 2020 Barking and Dagenham Council signed an agreement with global media real estate leader Hackman Capital Partners (HCP) to build London’s largest film and TV production centre in Dagenham. 

However, for residents living through the constant noise and disruption of Barking and Dagenhams regeneration what does this new build mean for them? 

As the borough continues to undergo regeneration, news of the film studios appears to be a space that has been curated with the locals at the centre. 

Spearheaded by Be First, the urban regeneration company owned by Barking and Dagenham Council, they aim to unlock the boroughs potential by generating up to 1,200 new jobs in the studios. 

Be First is the urban regeneration company working on the Dagenham Studios

Despite excitement and anticipation of the film studio’s future success and the job opportunities that will arise, many people are wondering why Dagenham?

 Barking and Dagenham has a long history with the film industry as certain areas have been used for filming. In 2019, two of the UKs largest box office hits were filmed in the borough – Black Widow by Marvel, Morbius by Sony Pictures, Marvel’s Avengers: Age Of Ultron, Doctor Strange,  Netflix’s Black Mirror and more recently ‘Top Boy’ were also filmed in Dagenham. 

All of which is made possible by Film LBBD which is led by Lisa Dee who is committed to bringing the film industry east and engaging the community with the different opportunities within the film industry. I had the pleasure of speaking with Lisa about her passion for film in Barking and Dagenham and how the new studios will hone in more local talent and nurture the talent that we already have. 

Lisa commented on how the studios will soon become a media hub of creativity and a local hotspot for aspiring and current creatives within the borough. What excites her the most about what the studios can bring is putting LBBD on the map for film, “Our borough will be on the map for making films globally and  the people of Barking and Dagenham will get the opportunity to play their part in bringing these stories to screen.” 

Scenes from Marvel’s Black Widow movie was shot right here in Barking and Dagenham

Whether that’s behind or in front of the camera, behind the scenes, back office, post-production or one of the essential cogs that serve the production, such as catering, transport and security, to name a few.” 

The studios will be located on an unoccupied site opposite Dagenham East station the need to repurpose this space by providing facilities such as,  6 sound stages, 2 workshops as well as hair and makeup rooms, production offices and much more. 

The increased number of facilities that the studios are providing will also come with an influx of job opportunities in and outside of the film industry. Lisa stated, “ With the new studio owners, Hackman Capital Partners we will run a substantial programme of activity to maximise local jobs, placements, apprenticeships, community outreach and supply chain opportunities.

“In addition to all the training opportunities mentioned, there are plans to engage local people through studio visits, apprenticeships and work experience opportunities and outreach once the new studios are developed.” 

CU London is embracing the opportunities the studios may bring for their students

In regards to what the community can look forward to Lisa said, “ From a community pride perspective, it should hopefully boost resident’s opinion of where they live and the opportunities that are/will be available to them. I’m personally so proud of Barking and Dagenham, its people and the work of the council and excited for the future of a place I care so much about.” 

Losing community centres, playgrounds and other safe spaces which helped birth Barking and Dagenham talent; the Dagenham Film  studio comes as an opportunity for these young creatives to have access to high quality equipment, industry professionals and a space to create again.

What inspires Lisa to continue to move film East is the progress and potential of the film community that already exists in the borough. She commented that  although the film community is small it is growing at a rapid place and commends the foundations that they have already put in place. 

“I’ve come across lots of production crew already living in the borough working on major film and tv productions within and outside of the borough. Through Barking and Dagenham College and Cu London, we as a borough have churned out some of the greats, such as, Idris Elba, Kano, Andi Osho and are in the process of cultivating the next generation of game-changers!” 

Kano shot parts of his music video ‘Pan Fried’ in Barking

Kano’s music video for ‘Pan Fried’ ft Kojo Funds off of his latest studio album ‘Hoodies All Summer’ features shots located in Barking. The video paid homage to his East London upbringing, this is an example of the talent and continued collaborations that the Dagenham Studios can offer. 

Lisa also mentioned more organisations and companies which are making waves across the borough, “ We also have the likes of amazing production companies, such as Bluebird Pictures producing award nominating work – Greasy Spoon (filmed in the borough) and hosting the boroughs annual film festival, which will be in its third year. We also have Create, Studio 3 Arts doing brilliant and important work with the community by way of the studios this ecosystem will only develop and grow.”

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