The Making Of OMA V Film Studios

Over the course of this series, we talk to some of the talented people who helped make our newest film studio facility happen

Q&A with our /

Project Manager

Alice Barber, Project Manager at Location Collective & OMA Studio Group

The build of OMA V Film Studios

What’s your role and how long have you been working at Location Collective and OMA Studio Group?

I’m Alice, I’m the Project Manager at Location Collective and OMA Studio Group.

I started working at Location Collective and OMA Studio Group in January last year, so I’ve been there for 15 months now.

What type of construction projects did you manage prior to coming on board with Location Collective and OMA Studio Group?

Prior to my job at Location Collective and OMA Studio Group, I used to work on commercial developments such as retail shop fit-outs, office blocks and retail parks.

What has been your involvement with OMA V?

When I joined Location Collective and OMA Studio Group we were just putting the planning application in for the project and I worked with the design team through detailed design and have followed the project right through to construction phase, to the end.

What aspect of the project have you found most challenging?

One of the most challenging aspects of the project was being able to get enough power to site to be sufficient for a film studio. So we managed to get 2.2 MVA which is more than enough power to site and we managed to do it to a really aggressive timeline.

What three aspects of the project have you found most innovative?

One of the most important things when undertaking the studio conversion was to ensure that we achieved NR25 acoustic performance rating, which is industry standard for sound stages and we managed to achieve it.

What has been one of the highlights for you?

One of the project highlights was Antony, our Founder, buying the toastie machine and us all competing week by week to see who made the best cheese toasties and I personally think I win, because I did the most in one week, about 15-16.

What other projects have you been involved with at Location Collective and OMA Studio Group?

Other things I do in my role at Location Collective and OMA Studio Group include looking at any feasibility studies and working out what the next studio would be to bring to the industry.

How does creating a film studio with Location Collective and OMA Studio Group differ most significantly from your previous projects?

One of the most significant differences to working with Location Collective and building a film studio is the fast pace industry that we now work in and being able to achieve a project in a quick timeframe and I definitely got more involved in the nitty-gritty in the finer detail of things on this project.

What have you enjoyed most about the project?

One of the most interesting aspects at OMA V is that we managed to create a high spec film studio out of what was an end of life distribution depot.

What are you most proud of with OMA V?

Having no previous experience in the TV and film industry I'm most proud of how the project went so successfully and being a project manager you're always glad to see a successful open site to the specification that we built it in.

As this is a film studio set up perfectly for a single show - what show are you currently watching?

The TV show I'm currently watching is Fall Out on Amazon Prime. I’d love it if they came to film season two here.

Q&A with our /

Studio Operation Director

Colin Johnson, Studio Operation Director at OMA Studio Group

The build of OMA V Film Studios

The Knowledge Q&A with our /

Managing director

Becky Butler, Managing Director at Location Collective & OMA Studio Group

Full Interview

(L to R: James Hanford, Head of Acquisitions; Antony Iredale, Founder; Becky Butler, Managing Director; Colin Johnson, Studio Operations Director)

Can you fill us in a little about the background of OMA V?

As with all our studio facilities, OMA V is a high-specification warehouse conversion, which has become something of a specialism for us. It is our third studio facility and the fifth site within our OMA Studio Group portfolio.

V appealed to us for conversion primarily because it is in the perfect geographical location. One of the first things we did when assessing the site was look at crew accessibility, and the site is within an hour’s drive time of 80% of London’s crew base. Being located in Radlett, Hertfordshire means that V is less than 15 minutes’ drive from both Leavesden and Sky Studios Elstree, and within minutes of the M25. It’s actually the first high specification film studio facility to be created in the St Albans area, which we are very excited about.

It’s also unusual for an industrial unit, in that there is a very low ratio of building footprint to external space. This means plenty of hard-standing on site for parking, unit basing and any additional ancillary purposes production might need space for.

When will the new site OMA V be fully open and can you outline the main facilities?

We designed OMA V with the aim of creating a facility that would work well for a single high-end TV show or features film looking for a fully self-contained and controllable studio solution. Although I’m sure that, as at our currently operational film studios OMA One and OMA X, there will be times when the site is a hub of activity and home to more than one show simultaneously.

What would you say is OMA V’s standout facility?

As is our aim with all facilities, I’m very proud that through the twists and turns of another conversion project (where you never quite know what an existing warehouse building is going to throw at you!) we’ve managed to make the right budgetary decisions to create another facility which has everything productions need, in a way that can be offered to production customers at a sustainably budget-friendly rate card.


I would say that, across the OMA Studio Group facilities, what makes us stand out beyond providing great facilities at budget-friendly rates is our Studio Management Team’s hands-on approach to customer service. The team, headed up by Colin Johnson, our Studio Operations Director, are a brilliant group of individuals covering stage management, facilities, ops and admin. I feel very lucky to have them as we consistently get great feedback about the ‘white glove’ service they provide to hiring customers.

Where and how did the OMA Studio Group start?

We launched our Studio business in 2019, at a time when there was a significant shortage of studio facilities in the UK to meet production demand.

In the years leading up to that point, we found we were continually receiving briefs into our Agency business asking for alternative set build or studio space. Whilst we managed to find homes for some (including Rogue OneBohemian RhapsodyMorbius and Rocketman) there were many build briefs we couldn’t fulfill. Unfortunately, some of these projects ultimately ended up basing outside of the UK.

Over the years, through the Agency business, we’ve developed expertise in helping ensure productions of all types and scale are able to find the filming locations and production space they need, and so it was in our DNA to try and come up with a solution which could help get high quality studio space into the market quickly (and help ensure that projects could find the space in the UK they needed). Converting existing warehouses (with the right bone structure to become film studios) was the best solution to get space into the market fast versus traditional ‘ground up’ facilities.

Converting existing buildings also means we can deliver value for money to hiring customers, as our construction costs are lower. We deliver our studios via our own construction company, enabling us to manage every decision around specification carefully to make sure we are delivering the facilities productions need, but that we are not providing unnecessary specification which inevitably has to be passed on in our rate cards.

We secured the lease on our first site, an industrial depot in Enfield, North London, in 2019 and set about converting it into our first studio, OMA One. OMA actually stands for One Mollison Avenue which is the postal address of OMA One. It was just a project name which stuck! We started construction at OMA One the day the UK went into lockdown for the very first time with Covid, so it was a nerve wracking few months.

We weren’t sure whether our construction team would need to stay at home due to Covid rules, whether we would still be able to get materials to site, or when production activity might be able to resume again. But we made it through a 6-month construction programme and were fortunate enough to secure a full-site takeover with one of the major streamers on the other side.

With OMA One fully occupied, OMA X, (just 700m from One) followed 9 months later as our second conversion. OMA X (as the name suggests) is much larger in scale than OMA One; double the square footage and with 44 ft working height. It’s currently the largest film studio inside the M25. OMA X was an instant hit; production activity had already started at one end of the facility whilst we were finishing the construction programme at the other.

How is the OMA Studio Group funded?

OMA Studio Group is an independent studio owner / operator. All our projects are self-funded.

Do you have a sustainability strategy?

For us, sustainability begins with our approach to studio development. New buildings account for 49% of embodied carbon globally. OMA Studio Group was established on a strategy of refurbishing existing buildings near the end of their economic lives into high specification studio facilities, refreshing the economic life cycle of those buildings whilst meeting the need for studio facilities that might otherwise be served by more carbon heavy purpose-built space.

Alongside this, we take a data led approach to identify where we can make the most meaningful differences to our environmental impact.

Our sites run entirely from grid power which is supplied from 100% green sources, and we have policies in place to prevent generator use.

Waste is managed to ensure 0% gets sent to landfill, including partnering with local suppliers and local wood recycling schemes to ensure materials are reused and repurposed locally for good causes.

We know there is a lot more we could and should be doing; our Studio Management Team are actively working on this at the moment with guidance from sustainability consultants. We’ve recently received Albert Plus Accreditation, and are working on recommendations from that process as to where we can further improve our practices.

Tell us about the other facilities in your UK portfolio

Altogether the OMA Studio Group includes 480,000 sq ft of production facilities across 3 studio sites and 2 ancillary sites.

The breakdown of space at each is listed below.

We have been lucky enough to host a wide range of shows; 31 to date since we opened OMA One in 2020.  A full list of released credits is available on the OMA Studio Group website. Highlights include Slow HorsesSiloInvasionThe Essex SerpentBad SistersThe Son and Trying.

Ancillary Sites:

OMA House (Enfield, London): a 22,800 sq ft office block which breaks down into 3, fully-self contained 2 storey blocks of 7,600 sq ft. The ground floor of each block has roll-in / roll-out access and so is also suitable for other production support purposes such as costume.

OMA Store (Enfield, London): a 13,800 sq ft warehouse space popular as a prop store.

What’s next?

For the foreseeable future, our number one priority is ensuring that OMA V launches successfully and gets great reviews from its first hiring productions, as well as continuing to enhance our offering, service and sustainability at OMA One and OMA X.

We are currently involved in a couple of projects looking to deliver new production space into London. We also have our ears close to the ground to understand how productions’ filming location and production space requirements might have changed post-strikes.

Our Agency business is built on sourcing and securing space as the production landscape shifts, so this might be via relationships with owners who would like to make their property available for production use, or via further Location Collective owned sites in the future. We don’t seem to stand still for long before finding something else to get our teeth into!

Talk to us

Location Collective regularly scopes out the feasibility of new sites for film studio and ancillary space use, either on a consultancy basis or as new projects to be pursued in-house.

Get in touch

Agency

Under our agency model, established in 2007, we work with owners of all kinds of property never originally intended for film and TV use; from lived-in homes, to operational and institutional buildings, to vacant offices and industrial development sites. We market each site for all types of filming and provide a full account management service throughout the hire process. Our aim is to provide an unrivalled level of service to our property owning clients, ensuring we keep the doors of London’s buildings open to filming for as long as possible.

Find out more about our agency

London’s leading provider of space for film production use across our agency and studio businesses

hires across our agency business

sqft of owned studio space

years of company experience

talented team members

OMA V FILM STUDIOS NOW OPEN
OMA V FILM STUDIOS NOW OPEN
OMA V FILM STUDIOS NOW OPEN
OMA V FILM STUDIOS NOW OPEN
OMA V FILM STUDIOS NOW OPEN
OMA V FILM STUDIOS NOW OPEN
OMA V FILM STUDIOS NOW OPEN
OMA V FILM STUDIOS NOW OPEN
OMA V FILM STUDIOS NOW OPEN
OMA V FILM STUDIOS NOW OPEN
OMA V FILM STUDIOS NOW OPEN
OMA V FILM STUDIOS NOW OPEN
OMA V FILM STUDIOS NOW OPEN
OMA V FILM STUDIOS NOW OPEN
OMA V FILM STUDIOS NOW OPEN