Twickenham Film Studios
|Headquarters||Twickenham, United Kingdom|
|Key people||Maria Walker (Chief Operating Officer)|
Twickenham Studios (formerly known as Twickenham Film Studios) is a film studio located in St Margarets, London, England used by many motion picture and television companies. It was established in 1913 by Dr. Ralph Jupp on the site of a former ice-rink. At the time of its original construction, it was the largest film studio in the United Kingdom.
In February 2012, it was announced that due to the studio going into administration, it would close before June, just a year before it centenary. The studio was subsequently saved from closure, with a new owner acquiring the studio in August 2012.
During the 1930s the studio was run by Julius Hagen. Hagen built up his business making Quota quickies for major American studios who were required by law to produce a certain number of British films each year in order to be allowed to release their expensive Hollywood pictures into the lucrative British market. Hagen became very efficient at producing large numbers of these quickies of varying quality. He often filmed all day, and then brought in different crews and actors to work through the night.
In the wake of the success of Alexander Korda's The Private Life of Henry VIII Hagen became interested in producing films which could be released in America. Twickenham took on more quality work such as the 1933 Gracie Fields vehicle This Week of Grace. This ultimately led Hagen to stop making quickies entirely and focus entirely on quality productions. He began to make more expensive films such as Seymour Hicks's Scrooge (1935) and Spy of Napoleon which he hoped to gain both a national and international market for. Hagen spent £100,000 rebuilding Twickenham Studios and acquired studios in other parts of London. He also broke with his established distributors and attempted to distribute his own films. This proved a mistake, the major American studios blocked his entry into their market, while his films failed to gain access in the British market. In 1937 Hagen's company went bankrupt as part of a wider slump in British filmmaking that year bringing an end to his reign at Twickenham.
In 1946 Alfred Shipman formed Alliance Film Studios Limited, controlling Riverside, Southall and Twickenham Film Studios. After his death in 1956 his two sons: Gerald (father of Piers Flint-Shipman) and Kenneth Shipman took control of the studios with Kenneth later going on to form Alliance Film Distributors.
Numerous films have been made at Twickenham since the end of Hagen's tenure including Carol Reed's The Stars Look Down in 1939, In the 1960s classic films such as Alfie starring Michael Caine, The Italian Job in 1969 with Noël Coward, Roman Polanski's first English language film in 1965 Repulsion; Be My Guest in 1965, featured Jerry Lee Lewis an early appearance by the young actor Steve Marriott and The Nashville Teens. In 1969, The Beatles used the studios while rehearsing music for their album Let It Be. A film was made of some of the sessions, and both the film and the album were released in 1970. The Beatles had previously used Twickenham for their films A Hard Day's Night and Help! and for their promotional film for Hey Jude. In the 1980s, the studio was used for The Mirror Crack'd, An American Werewolf in London, A Fish Called Wanda, Blade Runner, and Brother Sun, Sister Moon. Later films include The Others, Layer Cake, The Crucible, Interview with the Vampire, and Sweet Revenge.
Films that have used the facilities, production and post production, include:
Twickenham Studios has three stages that are sound-proofed and operate on a 'four wall' basis. Dressing rooms, star apartments, make-up, hairdressing and wardrobe departments and camera rooms are situated adjacent to each stage, with nearby prop rooms, artdDepartments and office suites. The largest, Stage 1, has a concrete water tank, housed underneath the floor boards. A camera pit at one end allows underwater viewing through a glass screen. This stage is famous for innumerable films, but notably, the two Beatles films, Help and A Hard Day's Night, also A Fish Called Wanda and An American Werewolf in London. More recently, Kenneth Branagh's Sleuth was shot on this stage. Stage Three has seen the filming of many famous films, including Roman Polanski's Repulsion, Karel Reisz's The French Lieutenant's Woman, Lewis Gilbert's Shirley Valentine and more recently, Layer Cake directed by Matthew Vaughn and Love in the Time of Cholera directed by Mike Newell. Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth shot the thriller Before I Go To Sleep, written and directed by Rowan Joffé, at the studios early in 2013.
The studios' post production facilities include a state-of-the-art Sound Centre, at the heart of which is the recently refitted The Richard Attenborough Theatre. It is one of the elite studios in the UK which has been Dolby Premier Certified. Other facilities include a second dubbing theatre, ADR / Foley Theatre, numerous cutting rooms, office facilities and sound transfer facilities. The most recent production to use the facilities was Brad Pitt's World War Z.
- History: Twickenham Film Studios website
- "Twickenham film studios set to close", BBC News, 20 February 2012
- Richards p.42
- History: Twickenham Film Studios website
- Empire Online: Colin Firth Joins Before I Go To Sleep, A reunion with Nicole Kidman Written by James White, 7 February 2013. Source: Variety
- Variety: Firth, Kidman to star in 'Before I Go to Sleep' Written by Robert Mitchell, 6 February 2013.
- Richards, Jeffrey (ed.). The Unknown 1930s: An Alternative History of the British Cinema, 1929- 1939. I.B. Tauris & Co, 1998.
- Twickenham Film Studios at the British Film Institute's Screenonline
- Twickenham Film Studios website