The Story Collective producers launch film and TV studio complex in southwest London (exclusive)

Source: Nikki Holland

Damian Keogh, Simon Vaughan

UK producers Damian Keogh and Simon Vaughan, previously at TV drama juggernaut Lookout Point, have launched their own film and TV studios The Story Works in Richmond, southwest London. 

The 22-acre site, a former brewery dating as far back as the 11th century, was originally intended as a temporary base for production on Steven Knight’s upcoming Disney+ series A Thousand Blows which Keogh and Vaughan produced via The Story Collective with Matriarch Productions and Water & Power Productions.

Through their production company, founded in 2021 alongside Helen Jackson, the pair recently signed a lease with the developers to continue operating for the “foreseeable future” starting with a major UK film sequel shooting this summer.

Primarily funded through The Story Collective, a subsidiary of US-based company Fifth Season (previously Endeavour), the studio’s backers also include The Young Vic’s outgoing artistic director Kwame Kwei-Armah who is a co-founder and sits on the board.

Organic process 

FrancisLovehall_ErinDoherty_StephenGraham_MalachiKirby

Source: Disney

‘A Thousand Blows’ cast – Francis Lovehall, Erin Doherty, Stephen Graham, Malachi Kirby

The Story Works currently consists of two soundstages, sound-proofed from the busy London Heathrow flight path overhead, offices, workshops and car parks.

A Thousand Blows, which stars Stephen Graham and follows an illegal boxing club in Victorian London, shot at the studios from March to December last year. Making use of the brewery’s original buildings as a backdrop, the production built a standing set replicating east London docklands and back streets which remains intact with the hope of a second series.

“We came here with our producer hats on, looking for a space,” Keogh said, speaking to Screen International.

As locals of the borough of Richmond themselves, the producers were familiar with the riverside brewery in Mortlake, which had not been in operation for over 10 years but had been used as a backlot by other productions including Indiana Jones And The Dial Of Destiny.

“Having loved it, we thought, ‘Why isn’t this a studio all the time?’” Keogh added.

Being producers, the pair say, means they understand the needs and wants of a production better than most. “We know what it takes, we know what the problems are and how to fix them,” Keogh said. Vaughan added that they’re “coming at it as producers rather than some big real estate play or some mega corporation”.

Tricky market

Several studios have recently fallen victim to the post-strike slowdown in production, among them Berkshire’s Winnersh Film Studios, where Ghostbusters: A Frozen Empire shot, which entered administration earlier this month along with parent company Stage 50.

“There’s never been a worse time to do this,” Vaughan joked, acknowledging it has been a “shocking” time for the industry. 

The duo is however confident new projects are starting to flow in again and that The Story Works’ central location in southwest London will set them apart from the competition. “When there’s an oversupply of studios, which there are at the moment, those studios that are incomparable in some way are going to have more of a chance,” Keogh said. 

As for future plans, the producers were reluctant to give too much detail but said their long-term ambitions are to create “a media village by the Thames where several productions can happen at once in the space”. 

“For now, we’re trying to work out how to make the most of the heritage and the potential of the site,” Vaughan added.

Originally published at https://www.screendaily.com/news/the-story-collective-producers-launch-film-and-tv-studio-complex-in-southwest-london-exclusive/5192702.article

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