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Soho a go go

'Harry Potter,' 'Troy,' 'Alien' among projects filming in London

LONDON — It’s impossible to talk about the European Cinema business without talking about the the Euro post-production sector, even though a huge portion of their income is derived not from homegrown projects, but major Hollywood studio productions.

Currently posting in London’s Soho are such mega-budget global productions as Alfonso Cuaron’s latest “Harry Potter” installment, Wolfgang Petersen’s “Troy” and Paul W.S. Anderson’s “Alien vs. Predator” to name only a few.

Soho is buzzing with effects work for both Hollywood and local productions, with the lion’s share of assignments probably in the hands of four houses: Frame Store, Moving Picture Co., Cine-Site and Double Negative. As one post, or rather, f/x pro, puts it, “You can’t really call it post anymore, since our work begins the day a film begins shooting, if not sooner.”

Michael Elson, head of production at London’s Moving Picture Co., says, “We came out of doing U.K. and European films” and today he estimates of the firm’s 200 artists on workstations, “there are French, German, English, American artists … because the top projects attract the top people.”

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Shop is also toiling on such U.K. projects as “Compleat Female Stage Beauty,” “Wimbledon” and Aardman’s “Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Wererabbit.” It’s along way from the firm’s f/x film origins of only a few years ago when, as Elson puts it, “We got our foot in the door with three shots of a chocolate frog in the first ‘Harry Potter.’ ”

Frame Store CEO William Sargent sees London as a major production center not just for effects work, but “because of the depth of talent in legal and finance as well.” In Sargent’s view, “the biggest change in the past five years is the depth of talent in Soho.”

Frame Store is handling several big features, including Miramax’s “Cold Mountain,” and a Brit effects-driven picture, Working Title’s “Thunderbirds,” which is based on Gerry Anderson’s cult TV show.

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