RECENT months have seen two big budget productions arrive in Dorset for filming shots.

Scenes of an upcoming DC television series on Netflix, believed to be The Sandman, were filmed at Sandbanks in late March and earlier April.

Meanwhile, a large crew took over Winspit Quarry near Worth Matravers throughout May for Disney+ Star Wars series, Andor.

The recent location shoots added to the list of filming set ups that have taken place in the county.

And with big money behind many projects in the industry, we have looked at whether Dorset has the possibility of becoming a more frequent spot for crews.

Promoting the area

Some local authorities around the UK have taken the decision to actively promote their area to film projects.

Just across the Hampshire/Dorset border, for example, New Forest District Council is a prominent supporter of the Film: New Forest initiative.

The organisation has existed since 2016 in partnership with Creative England and aims to make it as easy as possible for to shot movies and TV series across the Forest, while making sure the community experiences minimal disruption.

Since its inception, Film: New Forest has been able to promote the area and showcase what has been filmed in the area to date. This included hit Netflix drama The Crown recording scenes around Brockenhurst in 2019.

Are BCP Council and Dorset Council looking to make similar steps to promote the county to the film industry? While reports of productions being in the county recently was no surprise to BCP Council deputy leader Cllr Philip Broadhead, the prospect of a Film: New Forest partnership does not seem in the immediate future.

Cllr Broadhead told the Daily Echo: "Although we do not have a specific targeted programme around attracting filming companies to the area, we always do what we can to make them feel welcome and to encourage the level of investment that naturally follows.

Bournemouth Echo: Cllr Philip Broadhead

"We have one the best beaches in Europe, a wide array or world-class natural environments and an extensive range of beautiful places too – from the urban to historic.

"Hence it’s no surprise that so many scouts in this field land on us!”

While proactive steps from the council are not currently in motion, that has not deterred others from making the case for the county.

Film Expo South operates a Dorset film office to offer the industry an effective way to use the range of amazing locations, production talent and support services to deliver filming projects.

Also formed in 2016, the organisation currently has 29 registered "members" offering locations for filming in Dorset and Hampshire.

Setting the scene versus a location budget

We spoke to Bournemouth University's Sue Sudbury PhD, associate professor of media practice, about why location is so important for a filming project and what factors are involved in the decision making process.

Asked what the county can offer as a filming location, she said: "What Dorset can offer is a dramatic coastline and sea, as well as varied and beautiful countryside, with rolling hills and farmland, and very importantly it is near to London.

“Budget always come into it. There are lots of places that are very rugged and have interesting coastlines but if you think about what you see on TV, there are a lot of things shot on the Norfolk Broads because again it is quite near London.

“When a drama is set in Yorkshire then often part funding has come from Screen Yorkshire who would determine the choice of location.

“Dorset is Hardy countryside too, so a lot of his novels have been shot down here.

“The scenery is as important as the characters. The location can be like a character – it is part of the feel of a film.”

Discussing the balance between finding the best setting and finances, she said: "Geographic location is key but you also want very beautiful and dramatic scenery too, so Dorset offers that. The budget for all films is key but so is the look of the film.”

Bournemouth Echo: Sue SudburySue Sudbury

And on the question of the future of filming in Dorset, she said: “It has been a popular filming location for years and will continue to be so.”

The tale so far

The recent filming at Sandbanks and Winspit Quarry was the latest in a line of productions to visit Dorset.

While ITV's hit series Broadchurch leads the way in terms of Dorset's TV filming resume, the movie history has a variety of offerings. Below is just a handful of the motion pictures filmed in the county.

The Boat That Rocked

Portland Harbour took centre stage in the 2008 film starring Rhys Ifans, Bill Nighy and Nick Frost about a pirate radio station in the North Sea.

Filming for the Richard Curtis film took place on the former Dutch hospital ship Timor Challenger, previously De Hoop, moored in Portland Harbour, Dorset.

World War Z

Hollywood star Brad Pitt spent a day filming at Lulworth Cove in November 2012 for the American action movie.

He spent the day travelling up and down the cove in a boat, filming a scene where his character meets up with his family in the apocalyptic zombie thriller.

Nanny McPhee

Emma Thompson took on a house-full of unruly children in the 2005 family-friendly fantasy film.

Along with co-star Colin Firth, the team filmed some of the action in Purbeck, with popular tourist site Durdle Door making the final cut.

This involved six tonnes of equipment being taken down to the beach by helicopter and plenty of steps for the cast and crew.

Far from the Madding Crowd

The 2015 version of the Thomas Hardy classic was filmed in various locations across Dorset including Beaminster and Sherborne.

Carey Mulligan stars as heroine Bathsheba Everdene alongside Matthias Schoenaerts as Gabriel Oak and Tom Sturridge as Frank Troy.


Two well-known Dorset sites feature in the Christopher Nolan movie.

Custom House Quay, Weymouth, was used by the director to film the start of the civilian fleet departing Britain to aid the evacuation in Dunkirk.

Meanwhile, Swanage Railway Station made an appearance after the return of the Moonstone fishing boat to Weymouth harbour. The characters played by Fionn Whitehead and Harry Styles board a train that is bound for London. They board under the cover of darkness and arrive the following day, somewhat confused by the warm welcome they receive from the waiting crowd. These scenes feature Swanage Railway Station and trains from the Swanage Railway.

The Imitation Game

Alan Turing's connections with Dorset are well-known and 2014 film starring Benedict Cumberbatch ensured the film when back to the mathematician's roots.

The flashbacks to adolescence, and the introduction to cryptology by his friend and first love Christopher, were filmed at Sherborne School, where Turing was actually a pupil from 1926 to 1931.