INDUS TRY. WHY THE UK?
either; it’s from landowners, private developers, and international investors who wouldn’t have thought about film and TV previously, because it was a risky business. Now, with the rise of streamers and high-end TV, there’s longevity to productions. Take Game of Thrones , for example, that occupied space in Belfast for nearly ten years. Investors in studios there got revenue from that production the whole time. It’s big business... bigger than the oil and gas industry combined – which is extraordinary. At the same time, and this is hugely important, we must ensure that people are getting trained. It’s also crucial to us that we’re encouraging more young and diverse communities to get involved. There are fantastic initiatives all across the country. Film London run an equal access network that’s currently got 2500 young people engaged, and it’s placing between 40 and 50 individuals on productions every month. There’s a lot of work going on which isn’t just in infrastructure. When you build a new studio, you’re creating thousands of new jobs. And there’s a massive effort going on all around the UK – from the BFI, Film London and ScreenSkills – to train new talent. Basically, we are going to need thousands and thousands of people coming into these positions. What roles are there for people coming into the industry? AW: There are opportunities right across the industry chain. We’ve got everything, from junior production coordinators and production secretaries, right up to heads of department roles in costume, makeup and set design. We can train people into these roles, but also retrain
“There are opportunities right across the industry chain. We’ve got everything, from junior production, right up to heads of department” people from other industries. We’re in talks with the building industry because we need electricians and mechanics on set. We’re also in the process of presenting to parents and teachers, in order to build awareness. There’s a fantastic range of jobs in this industry outside the realms of what you typically regard as a production opportunity – many of which, younger people might not know about. It’s exciting work to be doing, this is not drudgery; you are part of a creative team that’s making something exciting, that people want to see. You previously mentioned a “critical package”, which includes the tax relief, but why else is the UK an attractive location for international production? AW: The UK is very film friendly, meaning you can shoot in many public spaces. In the last ten years, we’ve seen a massive perception shift in how locals view filming in their cities, towns and villages. It used to be something people complained about – having a bunch of glamorous people swanning about and causing a mess. But we, and Creative England, have been working hard to show that on-location filming can develop many fantastic opportunities for local communities; it promotes tourism, leads to jobs, and generates long-term revenue in the area. For example, it’s completely transformed tourism in Belfast, with people from all over the world travelling there to see Game of Thrones set. The same is true for Outlander in Scotland and His Dark Materials in Wales. Many years ago, I was challenged to open the visual vocabulary in London and break down the red tape and regulations. Over time, not only have we built up our tax relief and developed our skills and infrastructure, but we’ve also broken down those barriers so that people understand there is opportunity in film, enabling them to embrace the industry and work with it more. We’ve also got world-class visual effects facilities. Lots of money is invested into the research and development, from which we’ve improved virtual-production technology and studios.
Did you know? Despite disrupted production schedules, spend on film & high- end TV in the UK reached £2.84bn last year, a 21% decrease on 2019’s record levels. However, its final quarter saw a strong resumption in production activity, generating a £1.19bn spend, which was 38% higher than the previous three months – and the second highest quarterly on record.
NATIONWIDE GoT (below) had set locations in Northern Ireland and Scotland, with His Dark Materials (bottom) in Wales, Oxford and London
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