East London students enjoyed a taste of Hollywood this summer thanks to investment from the owners of London’s newest and largest film studios.

Barking and Dagenham College students Mohammad Hussain, 20, Demar Bellamy-Foster, 20, Carla Kelleher, 18, Afridjan Bracaj, 19, Jasmine Mustafa, 18, helped out film crews working on productions by Amazon, Apple and Netflix in the east London borough which is fast becoming known as London’s Hollywood.

Their placement with the media giants was the result of an education and training endowment fund set up by Hackman Capital Partners and The MBS Group (HCP-MBS) the new owners and operators of Eastbrook Studios in Dagenham and The Wharf Studios in Barking.

AJ Bracaj, 19, from Dagenham, said: “I had a really interesting experience working as a film marshal. This has been a great way to train for and enter the film and TV industry!”  

Carla Kelleher, aged 18 from Dagenham, said: “We had a great time on a new show for Apple TV. We worked for over a week and got paid! The production company seemed pleased with us and we also got the opportunity to work at the Tate when the production company filmed there.”

Mohammed Hussain, 20, from Ilford said: “We had a fantastic time at Warner Bros and were put up in a hotel for six weeks on a salary. Pretty good going for a summer job!”

Demar Bellamy-Foster, 20 from Ilford, who completed the work experience with classmate Mohammed Hussain, aged 20 from Ilford said: “We were super excited and we’re super proud to be a part of an experience like this!”

Councillor Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, who met the students this week, said: “I am so pleased these students enjoyed their taste of Hollywood – they’ve certainly had a summer to remember!

“But this is just the start of many great things for young people in the borough and it’s because progressive companies like HCP-MBS understand their responsibilities to the community.

“They realise, like us, that Barking and Dagenham becoming London’s Hollywood is not just about making movies, it’s also about inspiring young people and helping them realise their dreams.”

Lisa Dee, Head of Film LBBD, which coordinates film making in the borough and who helped place the students, said: “I am delighted the students had such a fabulous time working on the productions and I am very grateful to Apple, Netflix and Amazon for their time and generosity.

“The fantastic support from HCP-MBS has been phenomenal. They absolutely get why we want filming and studios here – it’s about benefiting the local community.”

Jason Turton, Chief Operating Officer, Barking & Dagenham College and East London Institute of Technology, said: “There really isn’t a more exciting time for young people in east London to train for and enter the film and TV industry. With the new studios opening up locally and the amazing media facilities at the college, including the industry-standard Idris Elba Film Studio, there is no better time for them to choose to study media. Our close links with Film LBBD mean that our students get amazing real life work experience. It’s the perfect combination to get them into a great career.” 

David Harley, Head of Regeneration at Be First, which led the film studio site tender process, said: “Right from the start we said it’s no use building London’s largest studios if they don’t benefit the residents of Barking and Dagenham. It’s clear HCP-MBS is investing in hearts and minds as well as bricks and mortar.”

This week HCP received approval from Barking and Dagenham Council to an amendment to their planning permission.

Stephen Hursthouse, SVP for UK Studio Development at The MBS Group   said: “It was great to meet the students and congratulate them on their hard work and success. We are absolutely committed to ensure local people, and especially young people, benefit for having what will be London’s largest film studios on their doorstep.

“We look forward to delivering a world-class studio campus in the borough. Eastbrook Studios, and our wider HCP-MBS team, will continue to

to work together with the Council and Film LBBD to ensure we remain focused on diversity and inclusivity, while creating opportunities for local residents.”

Location Manager, Georgette Turner, who worked with the students and studied performing arts at the College twenty years ago, said: “The group of students I worked with this week were a great bunch and I wish them well in the future and hope to see them out there on set soon.” 

Be First London