Successful film and TV studios boosts borough's finances

Elstree Studios site with managing director Roger Morris, inset.

Elstree Studios site with managing director Roger Morris, inset. - Credit: Elstree Studios

It was home to the original Star Wars trilogy and the Indiana Jones movies. Now it hosts The Crown and Strictly Come Dancing.

The success of Elstree Studios has a direct impact on the residents of Potters Bar.

Situated four miles down the A1 from the M25 and South Mimms Services, the film and TV studios in Borehamwood are owned by Hertsmere Borough Council.

Elstree Studios site 2020

Elstree Studios site 2020 - Credit: Elstree Studios

During the current lockdown and with leisure facilities closed, the cash Elstree generates is vital to boosting the council's coffers.

One of the architects of Elstree's current success is Roger Morris, who this week celebrated his 12th successful year at the famous studios in Shenley Road.

In the 12 years that Mr Morris has been managing director of Elstree Studios he has helped increase its profitability by 350 per cent.

That contribution is, under Roger’s management, a significant contributor to Hertsmere revenues.

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This is particularly important during this time with COVID-19 rampant and health restrictions in place.

This year Elstree Studios will once again show a healthy profit for Hertsmere Borough Council.

The council has stated that the studios are 97 per cent full, a remarkable achievement in the current climate.

Elstree Studios have remained open during the whole of 2020 and now into 2021.

Roger Morris, managing director of Elstree Studios

Roger Morris, managing director of Elstree Studios - Credit: Elstree Studios

Roger Morris said: “When I first came to the studios, Elstree Studios was being considered by the council as a potential sale disposal.

"Since day one I have managed to produce results that other studios and the film and television industry in general have admired.

"Some of the UK’s top shows are now produced at Elstree Studios including The Crown, Strictly Come Dancing, The Voice, Pointless and The Chase.

"I have negotiated technical partnerships deals with BBC Studioworks and that has been a great success. Note The Crown has just been nominated for six Golden Globe awards, including Best Television Series – Drama.”

Roger has kept a mix of feature films too, with Paddington and The King's Speech, a multi-Oscar winner, made at Elstree, along with top TV shows and a creative production village of over 40 companies.

This has meant that the studios covers and facilitates the film and TV industry across all genres.

In fact, Elstree Studios have been in such demand that Roger Morris persuaded Hertsmere Borough Council to invest in two more large stages to satisfy client demand.

The two new stages are now under construction and will open in 2022.

They have been funded by the council and the Local Enterprise Partnership as one of Boris Johnson’s rebuilding the UK economy initiatives under the Build, Build, Build programme.

In addition, Roger has brought new income streams to the studios in the form of Universal Studios Production Services.

This has now under Roger Morris’ guidance further materialised into a new studio complex in Borehamwood – Sky Studios Elstree.

Due to open in 2022, this is a £400 million studios development funded by Legal & General off Rowley Lane.

Sky Studios Elstree will create many jobs in the area and industry apprenticeships.

Apprenticeships are closed to Roger's heart, and that is why in 2013 he founded with the University of Hertfordshire, The Elstree UTC, a college for vocational education in the film and TV industry.

Roger Morris at Elstree Screen Arts Academy

Roger Morris talking to students at Elstree Screen Arts Academy - Credit: Elstree Studios

The college has been highly successful and has now been renamed the Elstree Screen Arts Academy.

It has over 450 students and is considered a centre of excellence for the film and TV industry.

Roger Morris added: “While I am proud of what I have achieved at Elstree Studios there’s still more to do to maintain our standing in the industry.

"The studios industry is growing rapidly with lots of new investment and it’s important that we keep up with both stage facilities and technology.”

Morris Bright, chairman of Elstree Studios and Hertsmere Council leader, said: “I wanted to offer you my thanks, at Elstree and at the council, but also as a work colleague who’s [known you] 10/11 years for all of the efforts that you’ve put in behind the scenes in relation to Sky and Universal and Comcast to get this, not just to the table, but to get it into a position where Sky’s application has now been approved and they’re going to start building, as you know forthwith.

"This is a huge legacy now. It’s jobs and homes and it's stability and it’s the creative industries which you and I both adore.

"This truly is a rebirth for the industry and for the area and, as I’ve said, I would like to offer you my thanks for your part in that.”

For more on Elstree Studios, visit www.elstreestudios.co.uk




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