Star Wars VII title announced as principal photography wraps in UK

LucasFilm have announced Star Wars: The Force Awakens as the title of the highly-anticipated seventh instalment of the universally popular sci-fi franchise. The news came on the back of the production also announcing the completion of principal photography.

Like every Star Wars film before it, Star Wars: The Force Awakens shot extensively in the UK. However the production basing itself at Pinewood Studios was not a sentimental decision, with the film instead being drawn by the extensive stage space and cutting-edge facilities offered. The production used 11 of Pinewood’s 13 stages, including the Richard Attenborough stage, opened in 2012 – which affords production teams 50 feet of clear height.

© LucasFilm

Star Wars: The Force Awakens also made use of Pinewood’s extensive outdoor space, shooting on the 16 acre North Lot, as well as utilising the studio’s exterior tank, one of several water filming facilities onsite.

The force is strong with UK crew

As well as taking advantage of the UK’s filming facilities, the film also made use of the world-class production talent available in the UK. VFX Production Supervisor Victoria McDowell and Senior Art Director Gary Tomkins were among the home-grown crew providing their talents, along with Production Coordinator Winnie Wishart, Location Manager Martin Joy and co-Producer Tommy Gormley. Formerly a legendary first assistant director, this is Gormley’s third co-producer credit, following Paramount’s Star Trek: Into Darkness and Super 8, also directed by JJ Abrams.

The production also benefitted from the expertise of Unit Production Manager Simon Emanuel, a veteran of major features through his work on Fast & Furious 6 (Universal) as well as Warner Bros.’ The Dark Knight Rises and Harry Potter series. Emanuel played a key role in ensuring that Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ UK shoot was a success.

There is also a plethora of UK talent to be found in front of the camera, including Game of Thrones’ (HBO) Gwendoline Christie and Andy Serkis, founder of cutting-edge performance capture studio Imaginarium.

More to come there is

As with all major international productions based in the UK, the BFC was on hand to help from the very earliest stages. Having assisted in securing the project for the UK, we went on to provide assistance in key crew introductions and location trouble shooting, as well as supporting the establishment of Lucasfilm’s legendary VFX arm, Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), in the UK.

JJ Abrams, Kathleen Kennedy, George Osborne and R2-D2 on the set of Star Wars: The Force Awakens at Pinewood Studios

ILM’s new central London base will not only lead on Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ undoubtedly demanding VFX requirements but is already working on high-profile Marvel titles Avengers: Age of Ultron, which wrapped its UK shoot in August, and Ant Man.

And, with the announcement in June that an as-yet-untitled standalone Star Wars film will shoot at Pinewood next year, directed by UK talent Gareth Edwards, our long-running relationship with the much-loved franchise looks set to continue.

For other examples of major titles produced in the UK check out the BFC’s showreel