Studios Spotlight – October Studios

Studios Spotlight – October Studios

As the latest in our Studios Spotlight series, we speak to Tom Hamilton of October Studios in Norfolk, and hear about the interesting background of the site, the extensive costume and prop hire and how the standing sets on offer – including a full-size, 360′ Oval Office replica – have attracted productions of all genres.  

Can you tell us a little about the history of October Studios?

We have been based on a former RAF base close to Norwich since 2015. October Studios was initially set up to facilitate October Films’ own commissions and drama projects, including three true-crime feature films which were the first projects filmed on base. 

In 2016 we opened up production services to UK and international clients and have been expanding ever since. We have converted build spaces, and utilised existing military buildings and extensive exterior space.   

The RAF base was decommissioned in 2006 and is now run as an Enterprise Park by Norfolk County Council. Our main 5,000 & 4,000 sq ft studios are based in the old Jaguar Simulator Building. In addition to these we have a 3,000 sq ft Virtual Production studio and two buildings which house our standing sets.   

We have a large costume hire store and prop hire store which cover many eras and genres. We also have access to the extensive private road network and 2km runway on site as well as many other buildings and our own spaces for exterior builds.  

Home  Alone 2 – October Films – Investigation Discovery








Could you describe some of the productions you have hosted? 

We work with a wide variety of clients ranging from US cable to UK scripted. In recent months we have worked with Cuba Pictures on a Paramount + [drama] series, Chemistry of Death; we were able to provide location management services, studio hire and a production base for their Norfolk-based shoot last summer.

In 2022 we provided the drama reconstruction elements for the Channel 4 series, Investigating Diana, produced by Sandpaper Films. This involved recreating many different locations involved in the final months of her life both in and out of our studios.

The American Presidency with Bill Clinton was a six-part series for which we provided the drama visualisations on behalf of Six West for History. This was a series which really showed off the work of our art and costume departments.

In amongst these and other productions we have also recently filmed a Jake Shears music video for Great Guns, which as well as using our US motel backlot build (pictured, bottom), also made great use of our Virtual Production studio for driving and fantasy sequences – in otherwise impossible environments.

Jake Shears video
Jake Shears – Too Much Music – Great Guns London – Mute Records  


Have you noticed any changes in the last few years in terms of the amount or genres of production activity?  

Since our return to work, soon after the Covid lockdown was eased, we have seen a really encouraging diversity in the range of productions that we provide services for. 

Having originally produced for mainly US-based companies, we are now seeing an increase in UK-based productions coming to the studios, as many scripted drama companies now look beyond the long- established, London-based spaces.      

Jake Shears video
Jake Shears – Too Much Music – Great Guns London – Mute Records  


What would you say is your studio’s standout facility?   

In 2022 we opened a Virtual Production studio with a 5m x 2.5m LED Volume which has allowed us to provide VP facilities to productions which would not be able to access the larger VP studios. 

This has proved particularly successful in providing driving scenes and extreme environments which would be otherwise impossible to film in the UK.  

We work with many US clients and have a full-size, 360-degree Oval Office set (pictured, above right and below) which has been used on many factual and fictional projects. Notably Watergate for Representational Pictures/A&E Films.   

In addition to the Oval Office, on one of our backlots we have a full-size, two-storey US motel set and strip mall and a fleet of over 20 American action vehicles. This appeals to productions across genres including horror and true crime work.   

Oval Office standing set
Oval Office standing set

Do you think Covid has highlighted any safety measures that may be adopted long-term for anyone using the studio? 

In our recent studio refurbishment, we installed efficient modern ventilation systems in our main studio building. We are also fortunate to have access to a Covid testing laboratory on our site (Anglia DNA) with whom we partnered during the pandemic to provide us with fast-turnaround, bulk-testing facilities.   

First Ladies
First Ladies – October Films – CNN


Have you any plans to expand? 

We are just reaching the end of a major refurbishment of our main studio building and are constantly upgrading our facilities. We are currently looking at upsizing our current VP volume size whilst still maintaining the budget-friendly nature of this facility.

How do you see the future of production in your region? 

We are very excited about the potential for production in the Eastern region. Norwich is becoming better connected and has an amazing community of creative crew members. It is fortunate to have an Arts University with whom we have strong links.

We are seeing more regional programming and have made series for both Channel 4 and Channel 5 in the last year.

Jake Shears video
Jake Shears – Too Much Music – Great Guns London – Mute Records

With many thanks to Tom Hamilton of October Studios for his help in compiling this article.

You can see more on October Studios on p45 of our World of Studios guide. To feature in the next edition, get in touch with Sarah or Alex

Photo credits: 
Jake Shears Too Much Music video images via Great Guns London/Mute Records. 
Other images via October Studios. 

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