BOOM AND REGENERAT ION | PRODUCTION
Excitingly, demand for content hasn’t gone down during Covid-19. If anything, it’s gone up! People are consuming streamed content
ABOVE Under Screen Yorkshire, the region’s production industry has grown faster than any other in the UK in recent years, with historic locations and studios, like Church Fenton’s Stage 3
a diamond in the crown, but this is going on all over. Pinewood in Shepperton has announced 30 new stages, there’s the Littlewoods development in Liverpool, Steven Knight is spearheading exciting things in Birmingham, Screen Yorkshire has plans to develop, they’re building more studios in the Belfast Maritime Harbour – the list goes on throughout the entire UK.” The missing piece of this puzzle, then, is employment. With so much more content being pumped out, job opportunities could be huge. “We already have great things in place, with National Lottery funding coming through the BFI and the fantastic work ScreenSkills does. But we’re saying very clearly, we need to work even faster and even bigger. Seetha Kumar, CEO of ScreenSkills, is incredibly committed to this and is discussing a ten-year strategy. “So, when people ask ‘how can people in aviation, for example, retrain? Where are people going to get jobs in the Midlands? Where are young people going to get work?’ The answer is here, in the film and television industries! “If there’s 125,000 people employed in the industry now, while we’re generating
the billions we’re generating, if you double that, it’s not a difficult equation. We’re potentially talking hundreds of thousands of new jobs and I just can’t think of another industry that offers so many opportunities over the next five to ten years.” Can things really be all that positive? Wootton certainly believes so, and for good reason. “I’m not looking at this through rose-tinted glasses. Our view is based on the empirical evidence: the analysis we’ve done of demand, knowing what investor partners want, which is to build studios and make content in them. We simply know there’s a huge opportunity. “I never thought I’d see it within my lifetime in the industry, but we can see the creative clusters developing and see them becoming really rich, vibrant, creative places, building on the success they’ve already had and the hard work they’ve already put in. “It’s real, but we can’t be complacent. We have to work hard, drawing on the diverse communities and talent of the UK, to build something that benefits us all,” Wootton concludes. Well, here’s to 2021.
one voice. I’ve never seen it in quite such a strong way before.” FULL STEAM AHEAD Perhaps future plans are less of a silver lining and more an almost inevitable force, delayed only momentarily by Covid-19. In either case, it looks like there are big things on the horizon. “Excitingly, demand for content hasn’t gone down during Covid-19. If anything, it’s gone up! People have been buying subscriptions and consuming streamed content like it’s going out of fashion,” enthuses Wootton. “Early in the year, during the success, we did research with the government and determined that if we had more studio space, we could increase that figure of £3bn greatly and potentially, over a five-year period, double it. “We’ve estimated that we needed potentially millions of additional square feet. Serendipitously, many investors are moving away from a worsening retail and office development market and looking into studios,” Wootton explains. “This is very much a UK-wide opportunity, too. London will always be
DECEMBER 2020 | DEF I N I T ION 33
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