Mayor sets out vision for London to be world’s most film-friendly city

31 January 2017
  • New analysis shows the film industry contributed £1.2 billion to London’s economy in 2016.

The Mayor Sadiq Khan today set out his vision for London to become the world’s most film-friendly city announcing a raft of measures to invest in talent, skills and infrastructure to ensure the capital’s film industry is able to continue on an upward trajectory. The Mayor has brought together the leading lights of London’s screen industries to discuss the challenges facing the sector and to reaffirm his commitment to the creative industries.

In an address to industry leaders, including some of the world’s most acclaimed directors and producers, at the world-renowned Double Negative Visual Effects in Fitzrovia, Sadiq said that although the UK continued to attract international film and TV projects in record-breaking numbers in 2016, the capital cannot be complacent in times of unprecedented political and institutional change and global competition.

Figures released last week show that the UK film industry, much of it based in London, has enjoyed a record-breaking year with inward investment in 2016 reaching £1.35 billion – an 18 per cent increase on the previous year. Approximately three-quarters of the UK’s film industry is based in and around London, meaning that it contributed roughly £1.2 billion to the capital’s economy in 2016.

London is the third busiest city for film production in the world after only Los Angeles and New York. The capital’s world-class crews, locations, talent and competitive tax reliefs have sustained London’s position in the top three cities - and that also means demand for studio space is incredibly high.

Looking to build on this success, Sadiq Khan announced plans to work in partnership with Creative Skillset and Film London to deliver a new skills strategy. This strategy will identify skills shortages within the capital’s film industry, develop routes into the sector for talented creatives, and encourage more people from diverse backgrounds to enter the screen industries.

The Mayor also announced that he has appointed consultants SQW, BBP Regeneration and Richard Miller from the University of Hertfordshire to deliver the feasibility study for the London’s largest new film studios in London, to be situated at Dagenham East.

A new film studio complex in Dagenham would enable London to bid successfully for more overseas film productions, benefitting not just the capital but the rest of the UK. It would also create a range of permanent jobs in the East End with ambitions to diversify the industry’s workforces, recognising broader skillsets that are necessary for film production – from carpenters to sound technicians.

With space in the capital at an all-time premium and with London’s population set to top 10 million by 2026, it is crucial that the city is able to cope with this growth whilst still remaining an inviting and competitive location for filming. In order to maintain London’s leading global position, Sadiq will commission Film London to review the London Filming Partnership. The London Filming Partnership is a group of over four hundred organisations committed to making London as film-friendly as possible, which includes organisation as varied as transport bodies, the Metropolitan Police and the Royal Parks.

All of the organisations involved share a commitment to making London a welcoming place for production while ensuring the city's residents enjoy the economic benefits of filming in the capital with minimal inconvenience. The review will ensure all partners continue to work together in the capital and will identify opportunities to protect and enhance the space available for trailers used by film units and make filming across borough boundaries as easy as possible.

The recommendations from his review will feed into the world’s first ever Cultural Infrastructure Plan – a Mayoral manifesto commitment that will identify what assets and skills are needed in order to sustain London’s future as a cultural powerhouse. The Culture Infrastructure Plan is due to be launched in its entirety in 2018.

The creative industries account for one in six jobs in the capital and are a major area for economic growth. Culture and the creative industries are worth £35 billion to the capital’s economy and the Mayor has made the sector a top priority for his administration.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “From upcoming films Star Wars: The Last Jedi and The Mummy to the recent successes of Bridget Jones’ Baby and Brotherhood the capital’s film industry is currently enjoying record investment and I’m committed to making sure that it continues to flourish, making London the best, most inviting place for film production in the world.

“In order to achieve this, we need to ensure we continue to attract the brightest, most diverse creative talent to London and we need to invest in the kind of physical infrastructure that will ensure our city remains competitive on the global stage.”

Adrian Wootton, CEO of Film London and the British Film Commission, said: “This is a pivotal time for London’s screen industries. In terms of skills, talent, studio space and sheer creativity we’re very much at the top of our game and in high demand from major productions who want to base their film and TV projects here. Our priority has to be sustaining this success and, as the Mayor told us this morning, he’s absolutely committed to retaining London's position as one of the best places in the world to make great content. I’m proud that Film London is working with the Mayor on such a far-sighted and comprehensive set of proposals which will deliver a city that meets the needs of our vibrant film and TV industries and pave the way for the next generation of creators, craftspeople and storytellers to the significant benefit of London and the UK.”  

Seetha Kumar, CEO, Creative Skillset said: “Creative Skillset is delighted to be working with the Mayor’s Office and Film London in delivering a new skills strategy for the screen industries.  Diversity – or lack of it – is a really vital issue, as our screen industries should represent all parts of the population.  The new London skills strategy will identify skills gaps and develop talent pipelines to support the screen industries’ growth and success.”

Before attending the film roundtable, Sadiq visited the studio of multi award-winning director Amma Asante. Amma is currently in post-production for her forthcoming film Where Hands Touch – making use of the capital’s world-class post-production facilities and filmmaking infrastructure.

BAFTA award-winning director Amma Asante said: “I'm always proud to come home to London to tell my stories - for its locations, talent, skilled crews and post-production facilities, London is one the best cities in the world to work as a filmmaker. I'm a big supporter of the Mayor's plans to open up opportunities for new talent but also enhance London and support it in becoming even stronger as a leading city that attracts filmmakers and film productions.”

Notes to editors

Attendees at the film roundtable include:

  • Amma Asante, Director (A United Kingdom, Where Hands Touch, Belle)
  • Daniel Battsek, Director of Film4
  • Barbara Broccoli, Producer, James Bond franchise
  • Gurinder Chadha, Writer, Director and Producer (Bend it Like Beckham, The Viceroy’s House)
  • Phil Clapp, CEO, UK Cinema Association
  • Ivan Dunleavy, CEO, Pinewood
  • Stephen Frears – Director (Florence Foster Jenkins, The Queen)
  • Sarah Gavron, Director (Suffragette, Brick Lane)
  • Kate Harwood, Managing Director, Euston Films
  • Alex Hope, Managing Director, Double Negative
  • Seetha Kumar, CEO, Creative Skillset
  • Amanda Neville, CEO, British Film Institute
  • Alison Owen, Producer (Suffragette, Shaun of the Dead, the upcoming Tulip Fever)
  • David Parfitt, Producer (Shakespeare in Love, The Madness of King George) and Chair, Film London
  • Libby Savill, Partner, Latham & Watkins Entertainment, Sports and Media Practice and Deputy Chair, BFI
  • Tracey Seaward, Producer (Florence Foster Jenkins, Eastern Promises, The Queen)
  • Justine Simons – Deputy Mayor for Culture and Creative Industries
  • Iain Smith, Producer (Mad Max, Fury Road, Fifth Element, Seven Years in Tibet) and Chair, British Film Commission
  • Stephen Woolley, Producer and Director (Made in Dagenham; Their Finest)
  • Adrian Wootton, Chief Executive, Film London and the British Film Commission

About Film London

Film London is the capital’s screen industries agency. We connect ideas, talent and finance to develop a pioneering creative culture in the city that delivers success in film, television, animation, games and beyond.

We work to sustain, promote and develop London as a global content production hub, support the development of the city’s new and emerging filmmaking talent and invest in a diverse and rich film culture. Funded by the Mayor of London and the National Lottery through the BFI, we also receive support from Arts Council England and Creative Skillset.

Film London’s activities include:

  • Maintaining, strengthening and promoting London’s position as world-class city to attract investment through film, television, animation and games.
  • Investing in local talent through a range of specialised production and training schemes.
  • Boosting employment and competitiveness in the capital’s screen industries by delivering internationally facing business development events.
  • Maximising access to the capital’s film culture by helping audiences discover film in all its diversity.
  • Promoting London through screen tourism.

Film London also manages the British Film Commission through a public/private partnership which is funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for International Trade through the BFI.


#LondonIsOpen will show the world that London remains entrepreneurial, international, and full of creativity and possibility, while reassuring the more than one million foreign nationals who live in London that they will always be welcome, and that any form of discrimination will not be tolerated. The Mayor is urging all Londoners, organisations and businesses to show their support for the #LondonIsOpen message via social media, through other creative ways. The starting idea for the campaign is built around London opening its doors to welcome people in, and will encourage people to use this as a platform for their own contributions. A film of famous locations opening their doors has been produced

#LondonisOpen – City of Film

Click here to view the film:

Actors, directors and producers of British film joined forces last year to publicly show their support for London’s thriving film industry and to tell the world London is Open to creativity and talent from around the world. Leading figures including Gemma Arterton, Richard Curtis, Louis Theroux, Amma Asante, Cressida Bonas, Harry Enfield, Dominic Cooper and Jack Whitehall appeared in a short film bringing to life the diversity and vibrancy of the London Film scene.

The film, created for the Mayor of London’s #LondonIsOpen campaign, was unveiled by Sadiq Khan at the London Film Festival’s Mayor’s Gala, ‘The European Premiere of Their Finest’. Supported by the British Film Institute and Film London, it was released to highlight London’s role as the global centre for creative industries and the driving force in film production.

A transcript of the film and a list of who delivered the lines is listed below:

London! (Gemma Arterton)

London! (Noel Clarke)

London! (Cressida Bonas)

London! (Dominic Cooper)

You sound like you’re from London! (Harry Enfield)

Yes, London! You know, fish and chips, cup o’tea, good food, bad weather, Mary Poppins. (Gemma Arterton)

In London everyone is different  and that means anyone can fit in. (Richard Curtis)

I like the spirit of this great London, which I feel around me. (Amma Asante)

It is a roost for every bird. (Gurinder Chadha)

Because it is not the walls that make the city, but the people who live within them. (Sadiq Khan)

And the London Underground is not a political movement. I looked it up. (Louis Theroux)

I will take you to foggy London town, because you are my little gentleman. (Cressida Bonas).

There's things half in shadow and halfway in light, on the rooftops of London. Coo, what a sight! (Noel Clarke)

And when a man, or woman, is tired of London (Stephen Woolley)

Then they are tired of life. (Jack Whitehall)

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