Curious Trends


Sands Films studio

Next to the Thames in Rotherhithe, and plumped between the Mayflower pub and the Brunel Museum, are a couple of nineteenth century warehouses that you’d never imagine could be a film studio… Let alone include workshops, an enormous costume wardrobe, sets, a cutting room, a homely canteen with retro furnishings and checked tablecloths – even a charmingly decorated, cosy little cinema. In fact, everything about this place is curiously characterful.

You may have heard that Warner Brothers has purchased Leavesden Studios, the home of Harry Potter films, and is planning a £100 million expansion of the film production facilities. But I don’t suppose you’ve ever heard of Sands Films studio, another London based production facility, founded in the early 1970s by Richard Goodwin, the Producer of Tales of Beatrix Potter and extraordinarily versatile director, Christine Edzard?

Films made here include Little Dorrit, The Fool, As you Like It and The Children’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. As a costumier, Sands Films has worked on the likes of Pride and Prejudice, Mary Antoinette, The Young Victoria, Tim Burton’s Alice and unreleased films including Anonymous.

The complex also houses the Rotherhithe Picture Research Library – in a part of the building dating back to around 1780 that was probably a warehouse for the neighbouring flour mill. The old timber beams are said to come from the Rotherhithe breakers’ yard, perhaps even from the Mary Rose…

The inside of the premises are somewhat reminiscent of an old fashioned curiosity shop - full of quirky props, period clothing, accessories and vintage ephemera. Sands’ Films producer, Olivier Stockman, runs an informal cinema club on Tuesday nights, with screenings open to the public.

The photos shown here should give you more of an idea of quite how unique a film production company this is – in some ways comparable to early film studios, which were one-stop shops, offering all the services needed to make a film. The Sands Films staff is like one big family, with an age range from that extends from teenage seamstresses at one end to a 95 year old embroiderer at the other. And everyone mucks in, with director Christine Edzard doing just about everything from directing to designing and making costumes.


By Lesley Ann on 02/12/2010 15:44:37

It does pretty much look the same just a bit less chaotic and dusty! I loved it when I was there though and should go back and visit sometime,

By Susan on 01/12/2010 14:56:21

It's lovely to get your feedback Lesley Ann - and thank you for reiterating how special a place this is. I'm curious to know if it looks the same as it did 20 years ago?

By Lesley Ann on 01/12/2010 14:44:15

How lovely to see this article about Sands Film Studios and know that it is still alive and well! I worked there about 19 years ago when I was a costume/prop maker, in fact the photo of the mice and rabbit heads was the project I worked on there for the Royal Ballet's 'Beatrix Potter' ballet. It is a truly magical place and almost a secret as it is, as you say, virtually unknown tucked away in Rotherhithe. Thanks for reminding me of this special place. x

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