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Image of film still Idris Elba in Bastille Day

Sampson House in Bastille Day

Date posted: 01.04.2016

Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation) and Richard Madden (Game of Thrones) hit the big screen in action feature Bastille Day, directed by James Watkins (The Woman in Black).

A young pickpocket (Madden) finds himself wrongly suspected of a terrorist bombing in Paris. Sean Briar (Elba) is a CIA operative demoted to data analyst duties after a mission gone wrong, who becomes embroiled in the chase to find out who was really behind it, teaming up with his unlikely new partner to find the answers, and avoid becoming targets themselves.

The tense thriller finds itself in the capital, shooting in the old bank vaults of Sampson House.

Banking on it

The film required the staging of a bank robbery, with the old bank vaults of Sampson House perfect for setting the scene.  The building was previously used as a processing centre for Lloyds Bank, and is currently used by IBM as a data store and disaster recovery centre.

Christian McWilliams, location manager for the production, explains "IBM was a wonderful location, in the heart of London, but still quiet and tucked away."

False alarm

The IBM location contact, Neelam Virji, was happy to accommodate the varied requirements of the production, which included use of smoke and gunfire at weekends to minimise disturbance.

"We almost caused a fire alarm with our smoke, but luckily we had isolated alarms" says McWilliams, adding "the fake gold bars we made and brought in caused a stir as they looked so real."

The production also made use of the easy parking nearby for trucks and other support vehicles.

McWilliams praised the helpfulness of the Sampson House staff, along with the friendliness of local residents, saying "the staff were very friendly and efficient, especially Neelam, the main contact."

About Sampson House

Sampson House was built in a Brutalist architectural style in 1976-9, and was designed by Fitzroy Robinson & Partners. It contains large open plan rooms, some with banks of computers and other empty spaces, with narrow windows to minimise natural light. It also boasts numerous wide corridors and an auditorium which has previously doubled as a hospital reception room.

The building externally features walls of exposed concrete and dark mirror glazing on the upper levels and gives views of Blackfriars Bridge, St Pauls, 30 St Mary Axe and the river.

For filming enquiries, contact The Collective.


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