It all started in the Summer of 2018, when the Kent Film Office put supervising location manager, Ben Mangham in touch with Farm Locations. He needed a field, on an incline, remote but accessible, edged by woodland, close-ish to London, where a travellers’ campsite of over 20 caravans could be created. The scenes include a rival gang attacking and destroying the camp and the stunt sequence would involve pyrotechnics and armoury.
Deep breath – let’s ask some owners.
After a round of recess across a mix of farm locations, it was a smart, historic country estate, that’s Chalk Farm Estate near Sevenoaks which had the perfect field.
This new original drama was later revealed as being Gangs of London, produced by Pulse Films for Sky Atlantic.
The field itself was a couple miles from the main house and yard, and a well drilled, obliging Estates team of Martha and Jamie worked closely with production as the planning unfurled. 22 days of hire included the majority for set build, commencing with the laying down of long stretches of tracking, from the lane through to the field. Most of the track was created as permanent hard-standing track – it was cheaper in price than the hire of temporary tracking, and was warmly received by the owners as a permanent addition to improve access across that part of the Estate.
Track build started in the November, and then the unit base and Kinneys campsite were created in December. Not the best time of year for an outdoors field shoot, but the Gangs of London filming schedule had been set regardless, and despite the huge amount of rainfall that fell in December, the show did go on. The set became a mud bath quickly; knee deep in mud was no exaggeration. The crew and cast grew a new level of resilience when dealing with such challenging conditions. But they did it, the night time filming was immense, the stunt scenes on another plane, and the directors, led by Gareth Evans, were delighted.
Estate manager Jamie was employed with his farm machinery, to be on standby throughout for towing in and out, and he helped a lot during filming too. Some of the crew also stayed in the manor house at Chalk Farm Estate, with its top floor rooms available for rent. As a location, the field was destroyed, but only temporarily. Some ground works and encouragement of new grass meant for the return to its former state come the Spring. Negotiations ensured that the owners were content with field recovery plans, and these works were factored in to the agreement
Gangs of London is Sky’s biggest show of 2020
Now available on Sky Atlantic (since April 23rd), the 9 episode series of Gangs of London has already become the second biggest original drama launch of all time, and the most binged Sky show of 2020. Perhaps the lockdown has fuelled audience figures, but so has the epic feel of this bold, British production. It’s not all blood and gore, it’s gripping and muddy too.