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Guy Ritchie, Idris Elba, Brad Pitt, Sandra Oh, Holly Willoughby and Matthew McConaughey have all filmed in Ealing

Ealing is a giant film set

What do Brad Pitt, Idris Elba, Sandra Oh, Guy Ritchie, Holly Willoughby, Matthew McConaughey and Michael Caine all have in common? They have all filmed in Ealing recently. And your home could get in on the act, too.

The West London Film Office is based at Ealing Council and, every month, handles hundreds of requests ranging from student film-makers through to big TV commercials and dramas, right up to Hollywood blockbusters.

“From the suburban settings of W5 and W7 to the bustling city feel of W3, the borough has a healthy variety of filming backdrops. Our parks are always popular film locations, as are Ealing’s town hall and it’s many housing estates too,” said head of the film office Ewan Willmott – who also writes the blog Reel Life to keep residents abreast of the latest filming.

In addition to the popularity of the locations on offer in the borough, it has plenty of other attractive pulls to the industry. Acton is home to lots of suppliers, from prop hire to lighting and cameras. And, of course, there is the world-famous Ealing Studios in our midst; not to mention LH2, West London Studios and a host of others.

TV series have made Ealing their ‘home’
Greg Davies chatting to crew as a scene is prepared
Greg Davies chatting to crew as a scene is prepared for Man Down

“We’ve had a dazzling array of star actors, actresses and directors come here in the last few years,” said Ewan. “There are all kinds of TV series that have made Ealing their ‘home’ too, such as the BBC’s Silent Witness which has production offices in the borough and often likes to film within close proximity to those. Then there’s been the third series of Humans which had its main location in a house near Lammas Park.”

One of the reasons it is so busy is that tax breaks introduced for filming in the UK have helped encourage big Hollywood films and television dramas to choose London. It has been an upward trend since 2010 and the feeling is now that London is in the top three busiest cities in the western world for filming alongside New York and Los Angeles. Thanks to this, and the surge in popularity of subscription channels, things have remained very busy since.

The West London Film Office helps make it all happen locally by proactively approaching film-makers and helping to find locations. Producers also rely on the office for the less glamorous essentials such as parking, road closures and car park gate opening.

Killing Eve…but not killing the mood

Ewan said: “Eve’s house, from the brilliant Killing Eve, was located in a street in West Ealing. And BBC3s People Just Do Nothing had their pirate radio station film, legally, in a flat in South Acton. That said, I hear they’ve now recreated it in a studio because the original has been knocked down. This is just the tip of the iceberg – the list goes on.

“Setting up shoots is not always easy though; it means getting the right people involved. We don’t want to close a road for a crucial scene only to find roadworks there on the day; or a funfair setting up in a park on the day we’ve got a deep and meaningful romantic scene scheduled there.”

Ewan picks his favourites
People Just Do Nothing film on South Acton Estate
People Just Do Nothing film on South Acton Estate

Ewan said: “I like a bit of a laugh, so it’s been great to get Man Down and People Just Do Nothing filming in Ealing. They both very graciously allowed us to interrupt their filming days to have a quick chat with Greg Davies and a chinwag with two members of the People Just Do Nothing cast; and you can read about those in Reel Life. Further back we had quite a few Peep Show scenes film here too which was great, and of course Nicholas Cage and Madonna filming in Acton Park – on separate occasions – is the stuff of legend.”

Could your property be filmed?

If you are the owner of a property and you are interested in letting it out to film companies for use as a TV or film location, you could earn some money. Private residential properties can earn between £500 and £2,000 per day. Get in touch with the West London Film Office to find out more.


Image credits: Sandra Oh – Canadian Film Centre, via Wikimedia Commons; Matthew McConaughey – Georges Biard, via Wikimedia Commons; Holly Willoughby – Eric The Fish, via Wikimedia Commons; Brad Pitt – SpreePix, via Wikimedia Commons; Guy Ritchie – Kathy Hutchins, via Wikimedia Commons; Iris Elba – Department for International Development, via Wikimedia Commons.

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