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West London Film Studios — which was the base for all three seasons of Apple TV+’s Emmy-winning hit Ted Lasso, but has also welcomed films including The Father and Judy — is getting a green-focused expansion.
The U.K. facility — located in the town of Hayes in West London, and currently housing five stages over an area of around 105,000 square feet — is growing to incorporate another 85,000 square feet of land over the road, onto which an additional four stages are being built at the cost of around £23 million ($28 million). But alongside the new studio space, which is set to open in June (and already has a booking), owner Frank Khalid is installing a $3.7 million ($4.6 million) three-megawatt gas substation — which he says is the first to be used in a studio — so that the expansion generates its own electricity.
According to Khalid, while the substation may not utilise renewable fuel or green energy itself, it reduces the resources that would otherwise be needed to bring it to the facility.
“With most cases with electric, you need to dig up the road as the power station is miles away,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter. “A lot of things have to happen by the time the electricity gets to your building. And studios need a lot of power.”
Khalid also says the generator will become another source of income for him, with productions using the studio now being invoiced by West London Film Studios for their energy use. And although the current plan is for it to power only the new expansion, he says that if he were to double its load to six megawatts then it could feasibly provide electricity to the original studio space as well. “So that’s something to look at for the future,” he says.
The move at West London Film Studios follows a similar eco-focused drive in many other new-build facilities. Sky Studios Elstree — the vast and recently-opened facility that will be home to film and TV projects from Sky, Working Title and Universal (Wicked is currently shooting there) — began construction with a pledge to be the most sustainable production hub in the world, built to collect and treat rainwater, be powered by solar panels and have enough battery storage for 25 percent of its consumption, among various environmentally-focused abilities.
Khalid only opened West London Film Studios in 2014 (its first production was The Imitation Game), the entrepreneur moving into the film production business somewhat unexpectedly having originally wanted to use the space as a wedding venue but changing his mind when the local council objected. But thanks to the surge in demand for studio space that the U.K. has experienced since, he says he’s now looking for more opportunities beyond the first expansion. However, he does warn that the U.K’s current record levels of inflation is scaring production away from the country and into Europe.
“At the moment, we’re ok, and the future is looking alright, but there is that danger as well.”
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