Massive Hollywood thriller filmed on Camden estate proved “sweet as honey” for residents
Taron Egerton’s freerunning across a Camden estate is breathtaking in upcoming action thriller Kingsman: The Secret Service. When the filmmakers showed up with their massive Hollywood-scale crew and equipment at the Alexandra and Ainsworth Estate, how did residents react? The experience was literally as sweet as honey.
Director Matthew Vaughn with actors including Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson and Michael Caine, along with Egerton, bring the famous comic book story to life – as a secret spy organisation recruits a street kid into its training programme, just in time to deal with the global threat from a twisted tech genius.
Taron Egerton and Michael Caine were seen filming at the A&A estate.
The movie opens in London on Thursday. You’ll see the A&A estate featured in this trailer.
While filming there in December 2013, the team made a generous donation, part of which will support two beehives on the roof there – yielding the A&A’s own delicious Rowley Way honey, come the summer.
The A&A estate’s Tenants and Residents Association has a filming sub-committee. Its secretary Sara Bell praised the crew for its courtesy and respect.
She says, “It was huge – they pretty much took over the estate for three days, but they were lovely people; really appreciative and helpful. They were fine about having dozens of us down there watching as they worked.”
The shoot involved rigging on the roof, three cherry pickers for lighting, and a crane so big that a structural survey was needed to make sure it wouldn’t cause any damage.
“There was a huge crane over the walkway, massive lights lit the whole place up,” Mrs Bell says. “But everything was quiet and packed away in the evenings. We have lots of children on the estate and they all need to get to bed early, in peace and quiet. The crew respected this.”
The residents also rented out their hall, providing a cosy place to rest and grab a coffee and something to eat during the shoot.
Mrs Bell explains that donations from filming have been spent on redecorating the hall, buying an upright piano for residents to play, and many other improvements, including the renowned beehives.
“I’m one of the beekeepers and people are always asking about our honey,” she says. “It has a very distinctive taste which comes from the lime trees and honeysuckle all over the estate, and is delicious. Unfortunately, we all have to wait until August for the next batch, though.”
When the honey is ready, Mrs Bell and her two fellow beekeepers sell it to residents at the estate’s organic vegetable co-op ‘SHEF’ in the tenants hall every Saturday morning – it is usually gone within 45 minutes!
“All these good things go to show what’s possible if residents organise themselves,” she says. “The most important thing is our good relationship with Camden Council. We trust them to back us and protect us. Every time we get a filming request, I email the eight members of our filming sub-committee and talk about whether we like the idea or not; and whether we need to ask for some special requirements to make sure residents aren’t disturbed too much.
“If we believe our estate will be represented in a way that’s not dignified, we always say no. And having that reputation has never put filmmakers off wanting to shoot here.
“I would recommend all Londoners join their local residents association and get involved in filmmaking going on around them. You can put it to good work on behalf of your community.”
Councillor Abdul Hai, Cabinet Member for Customers, Communities & Culture said: “Once again Camden has proven to be the ideal location for major filming in the capital. The welcoming and proactive work of the Alexandra and Ainsworth Estate Tenants and Residents Association has helped ensure that the filming was as trouble-free as possible for all residents and visitors to the area, with the added benefits that the association has gained from the filmmakers.”
There’s more information about the A&A’s tenants and residents association here.