Filming for Brit flick starring Downton Abbey actress takes place in Stoke Newington
Stoke Newington’s listed red-bricked Victorian library will play a starring role in a much-anticipated Brit flick starring Downton Abbey’s Jessica Brown Findlay.
Jessica, who played Lady Sybil Crawley in the popular ITV period drama, was in Hackney over the weekend filming the opening scenes of This Beautiful Fantastic, a contemporary fairytale revolving around the relationship between a young woman – who works in a library - and a widower.
The film’s producer, Christine Alderson, said: “We chose Stoke Newington Library because it’s such a beautiful building and it felt in keeping with the character of [Jessica’s character] Bella. We used Hackney because the environment is such an eclectic mix of old and new London, with a great ethnic variation too which felt like the right backdrop for the film.”
The all-star cast also includes Tom Wilkinson, from The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Jeremy Irvine, of War Horse, and acting grand dame Sheila Hancock. The film has been on a watch-list since 2010.
Hackney is fast becoming one of the hottest film destinations in the capital with the Council’s Film Office fielding an average of 30 requests a week, managing shoots, securing location fees and donations for local groups, residents, charities, and bringing in much-needed revenue for the Council to maintain its parks and venues.
Some of Hollywood’s top blockbusters have had scenes filmed in the borough, including the new Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation; Tom Hardy movies, Legend, about gangster twins the Krays, and London Road, which recounts the notorious 2006 prostitute murders in Ipswich; as well as the as-yet-unreleased Bond film, Spectre.
With its wealth of fine parks, beautiful buildings and photogenic streets, Hackney is one of the film-friendliest boroughs in London, and the Film Office works hard to balance the rights and needs of residents with the wishes of film crews.
Allowing filming in the borough is an important money-generator for local people and the Council - helping us to continue to provide some services for residents as we face ongoing government cuts.
Local residents are benefiting directly - in the past few years the Film Office has managed to secure £30,000 for the Youth Sports Fund, £8,000 for the Geffrye Community Centre, 250 free tickets to Dirty Dancing for children living in the Pembury Estate, part-time work at the Secret Cinema for local people - among many other things.
And evidence also shows that filming directly benefits businesses, with film crews spending locally and by attracting tourists to the area.