London 2012: British Capital Becomes No-Filming Zone as Summer Olympics Begin
Hollywood studios and global filmmakers have been gently dissuaded from production in central London.
LONDON – Hollywood studios and global filmmakers alike have been warned about attempting any kind of location shoot in the British capital during the upcoming London 2012 Olympics.
It's not an outright ban by authorities, but a warning based on common sense as hundreds of thousands of visitors, TV crews and other media representatives descend on London during the Olympics, which kick off Friday with an opening ceremony produced by Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle.
"We've been telling the studio heads of physical production for months now that central London will be out during the 15 days the Olympics is on," said British Film Commission CEO Adrian Wootton.
Wootton is the man tasked with keeping the cash flowing to British shores from the studios and other major production financiers.
And, as the man who is also in charge of Film London, the government-backed agency charged with developing the film and media industry in the British capital, he is also co-coordinating a team looking to keep film and TV crews and media going during the London Games.
One of the issues is the demand put on London's infrastructure, which is expected to be strained by the influx of high-profile visitors and a battle to secure accommodation in the more exclusive hotels during the Games.
"There are logistical issues, and let's not pretend the Olympics aren't coming to town," Wootton said. " But we've said you can shoot in the U.K. during the Olympics, but just don't expect to come to Westminster [district] and shoot an action sequence on location."
The major U.K. studio facilities – including Pinewood Shepperton and Warner Bros.' $100 million revamped Leavesden – are all seeing business as usual despite the world's most popular sporting event.
A spokesman for Pinewood Shepperton, the group that operates the U.K.'s most famous stages, including the 007 stage at Pinewood studios, noted both sites were not running at "full capacity," but will both play host to major U.S.-backed productions during the Games.
Pinewood has been booked as Universal's Working Title's Les Miserables with Russell Crowe for Oscar winning director Tom Hooper has wrapped its shoot before Angelina Jolie and company arrived for Walt Disney's Maleficent to film. And Shepperton is seeing filming for Fast And The Furious 6 and Ralph Fiennes' The Invisible Woman this summer.
But it is the British capital's 3 Mills studios, a studio facility two miles from the Olympic site in the heart of London's East End, that finds itself in a unique position.
It has been booked for the past year for rehearsals of the Games’ opening and closing ceremonies under Boyle's leadership alongside fellow filmmaker Stephen Daldry.
The filmmaker even shot Trance, a movie bought by the Weinstein Company for U.S. distribution and backed by Film4 and Fox Searchlight, starring James McAvoy and Rosario Dawson, at the same time as he was dreaming up and rehearsing the Olympics' ceremonies at the studio.
3 Mills Studios executive Derek Watts, who runs the 14 stages and 108,000 square feet of filming space, said because of the booking for the Olympics, his studio is busier than it was this last time last year.
"The stages are booked up right through the Games until September and the offices right up until October/November," Watts told THR.
But he noted that there is a certain amount of trepidation ahead of the hordes descending on his doorstep during the Games. "There's an Olympic route network of roads around us because it's so close, so we'll have to wait and see how the traffic and people affects us here," Watts said. "Noone is quite sure how it will affect the deliveries and such at the studio."
But all the education undertaken by Wootton and his team seem to be working. "I'm pleased to say there's not a single film company that has changed plans to shoot in the U.K.," Wootton said. His Film London has a dedicated microsite should Hollywood be looking for last-minute bookings to justify visiting the Olympic city.