In 2013, a Brixton street was transformed into 1960s Berlin for Guy Ritchie’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Numerous shoots have taken place since then, with Brixton Market, Brockwell Park and local housing estates among the most popular settings - according to FilmFixer, the company, which manages Lambeth Council’s film office.
Brixton doesn’t just appear in feature films. TV shows such as The Apprentice and Britain’s Got Talent; advertisements and music videos (including for Little Mix) have all been filmed on local streets. Vogue magazine even chose Brixton Market for a fashion shoot with Naomi Campbell.
But the area is perhaps best known for gritty urban dramas, which depict London life – Marcella, starring Anna Friel being a good example.
Look into the history of film and you’ll find that Brixton has been appearing on the silver screen for a long while now, with films being shot in the area since the 1970s. Here are four stand-out examples you shouldn’t miss:
Norman Beaton of Desmond’s fame stars as Dave in this classic. Beaton’s character is a gambler and miscreant who winds up educating a young, innocent Guyanese man about life on the streets of Brixton. Several local spots can be seen in the film, such as Atlantic Road, Villa Road and Brixton Market.
The film, which depicts intolerance and prejudice in Britain, remains relevant to this day. It centres on black British teenager, Blue (Brinsley Forde) and his friends, as they try to get by in the face of racial abuse from authority figures and the police. South London locations are used heavily in scenes, including a sound-system party at a Brixton warehouse.
Before John Boyega rose to fame in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), he played Moses, the protagonist of Attack the Block. The film is about a gang of kids fighting to protect their Brixton tower block against an alien invasion. The fact that writer/director Joe Cornish is a long-time resident of the area adds to the film’s authenticity. You may recognise Brixton’s Myatt Fields Estate, which features prominently.
Jessica Sula (of Skins fame) stars as Layla in this Brixton-based urban drama written and directed by Rebecca Johnson. The 15-year-old protagonist becomes implicated in a gang plot to lure a young admirer of hers to his death. This film was unusual in depicting gang life through the eyes of a teenage female protagonist.
Also check out Kill Your Friends (2015), starring Rosanna Arquette, James Corden and Nicholas Hoult, and spot the local landmarks. London Fields (2018), based on the book by Martin Amis and starring Johnny Depp, Amber Heard and Billy Bob Thornton, includes scenes shot in Brixton too.
Not only is the area a great filming location, it’s a good place to watch film too. Brixton’s Ritzy Picturehouse is a well-loved institution showing a good mix of blockbusters and independents with an exciting bar and venue upstairs. The annual Brixton Reel Film Festival also presents new and original filmmaking with a focus on improving mental health.
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