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From Alien to The Mummy and Justice League, many of 2017’s biggest films are being made in the UK. But can this production boom be sustained in the era of Trump and Brexit? And is it crowding out British indie films? Tim Dams reports
The opinions of clients are a sure-fire way of singling out one post house from another. Jake Bickerton reveals the facilities that excel in satisfying their producer clients
The post market may have streamlined a little over recent years but you certainly couldn’t claim post houses were exactly thin on the ground, especially in and around the post heartland of Soho.
To ensure regular repeat visits from clients, it’s not just about providing excellent results on time, on budget every time. It’s the extra little touches that make all the difference. A post house that’s able to cater to every whim of its fussy client base and provide the kind of niceties that make the producer feel pampered is on to a winner. Those that do this best are more akin to private members clubs and boutique hotels in their approach to looking after customers, and the effort invariably pays off.
Envy Envy, which takes the crown for the producers’ favourite once again this year, has all the fancy decorative touches, posh bars, diligent runners and an inhouse academy training new employees in the Envy way of approaching client care. It tops the TV producers list, comes joint second for corporate producers and mid-table in the commercials producers poll.
“It has a ‘can do’ attitude,” says one TV producer. “They provide excellent service and quality for the final post,” says another. Envy has “great buildings, equipment and staff,” says another TV producer, which is echoed in another client saying, “Envy has good, talented teams and excellent facilities.”
“Great service and nice people,” comments another client, while another points to what they believe is the facility’s “unfailing quality”.
A corporate client says it has “great facilities and staff editors” and a commercials producer who’s used Envy says the company does “great work for a budget”.
The Mill The Facilities 50 winner comes in second overall in terms of producer opinions, and tops the list of the notoriously difficult-to-please commercials producers. It also comes in joint second in the corporate producers top 10.
Commercials producers are impressed by The Mill’s “standard of work”, the fact it has managed “growth in adversity” and is “very creative and helpful with budgets.” Another commercials client points to the company being “consistently good”, while its corporate producer fans admire its “technical ability”, its “brilliance” and say it shines through being “creative with technical excellence”.
The Farm Group The Farm Group is one of the most admired broadcast-focused post outfits in the country. The facilities giant offers an “efficient service, good editors and they are flexible with low-budget shows and pilots,” says one of its producer clients.
Another agrees: “They provide the best value for money, and above all flexibility.” This flexibility is picked up by another client, who says The Farm “adapts to any situation, and has approachable, talented staff.” Another TV producer says they admire the company’s “professionalism”.
Prime Focus Prime Focus makes it into each of the TV, commercials and corporate producer top 10s. It places fourth in the overall producers poll as a result.
One of its TV clients says it admires its “stunning customer care – nothing is too much trouble.” Another also points to its “good service” as well as singling out its “friendly staff”, while another TV producer client says it has “good talent”.
Comments are remarkably similar from its commercials clients: “[Prime Focus is] adaptable to the marketplace and has good people,” says one, while, similarly, another admires the company “for coping with scale” and for its “innovation and talented artists”. Corporate clients also reference Prime Focus’ “great people and talent” and its “great support across a wide variety of areas.”
Evolutions Evolutions comes in third in the TV producer poll this year. It also finds favour with corporate producers too and manages to land a place in their top five.
One of its TV clients says it has an “excellent audio and QC team” and offers “competitive quotes and deals”. Which is a point raised by a number of other clients, including one who says they like its “competitive deals and wide range of facilities”. Meanwhile, one of its corporate producer clients say they use Evolutions as the company is “reliable and professional”.
Framestore Film and commercials visual effects giant Framestore comes in sixth in the overall producer poll thanks to its popularity amongst commercials producers. It’s the second most popular choice amongst producers working in the advertising sector.
One of its commercials clients singles it out for having “strength and depth”, another admires its “great film effects”, while another points to its “standard of work”. Another Framestore fan sums up by saying it has “great people and still produces great work”.
MPC Coming third in the commercial producers poll and joint-seventh overall is MPC, the second placed company in the Facilities 50. Its commercials producer clients say MPC is “consistent” and that they admire its “standard of work” over the last year.
Molinare Popular TV and film-focused post house Molinare finishes up fourth place in the TV producers poll and joint-seventh overall. It has undergone extensive refurbishment over the last few years and now boasts the largest grading suite in London. Its TV producer clients say they admire its “good facilities”.
Clear Cut Pictures The first non-Soho located post house to make the overall producer poll, West London’s Clear Cut Pictures picks up plenty of recommendations from the TV production community.
It has a “great reputation amongst big hitting indies,” says one, while another says they “understand our workflow”. Similarly, another TV client says “they provide a great service and know-how for long series”, and another sums up by saying they are “efficient and helpful”.
Splice East London’s first and only entry into the producer poll is Shoreditch-based Splice, which finds favour with a considerable number of TV production companies. Producers listing Splice as one of their most used or most rated post houses mention the facility’s “good rates” and “flexibility”.
Bravo Bravo is the corporate producers favourite, topping the poll of corporate production companies. Clients highlight its “great service and inhouse talent”, and its “creative, technical excellence”.
Others in TV producers’ top 10 Technicolor has picked up admirers since relocating to Soho a number of years ago, through its “price, quality and service” and, echoes another client, through being “incredibly efficient, financially competitive, always helpful and having high quality creative staff”. Another TV producer points to very similar reasons for choosing Technicolor: “They get the jobs done quickly, efficiently and professionally and handle everything well.”
Cardiff’s Gorilla, which used to be Mwnci, shares the seventh spot in the TV producers poll. It has a “high standard of editors working in the company,” says one of its clients. It’s “local, good to deal with, honest, appreciates cuts in budgets and its quality is high,” says another, while another chooses Gorilla because “they deliver, and have excellent creativity and project understanding, great kit and above all people.”
The final company to make the broadcast producers’ top 10 is Halo, which provides “high quality post for high-end shows” and is “consistently good” say its clients.
Others in ad producers’ top 10 Rushes makes it into both the commercials and corporate producers poll. It’s “approachable and diligent,” says one of its clients, another says it’s “always willing to help”, while another loyal client says it is “collaborative and helpful with budgets –after many years of working together we have a shorthand on jobs”.
Glassworks makes it into the ad producers poll at joint-sixth position, “because they are great,” says one happy client. The company is “very creative and helpful with budgets,” says another.
Making up the rest of the commercials producers’ list are three well-respected vfx houses – Finish, Bigbuoy (“It is raring to go and will push to deliver the best for you regardless of cost”) and Golden Square – the “nicest people in the business,” says one of its clients.
Others in the corporate top 10 Storm HD provides a “great, fast responsive service,” says one of its corporate clients. Unit is praised for its “quality of output” and is chosen by another corporate for its “good rates for long-term work”.
Azimuth is rated for its “good technical back-up and support”, while Preditors, or more specifically one of its founders, Mark “Reg” Wrench, is praised for being “an excellent editor working on FCP”. Finally, audio-only post house Fitzrovia’s admirers say it provides “calm, efficient, welcoming sound post production” facilities.
Top Producer Favourites 1 ENVY
2 THE MILL
3 THE FARM GROUP
4= PRIME FOCUS
9 CLEAR CUT PICTURES
10= BRAVO POST
TV Producer Favourites
2 THE FARM GROUP
5 PRIME FOCUS
6 CLEAR CUT PICTURES
Ad Producer Favourites
1 THE MILL
4 PRIME FOCUS
9= GOLDEN SQUARE
Corporate Producer Favourites
1 BRAVO POST
2= THE MILL
5 STORM HD
6= PRIME FOCUS
How the producer polls work
The producer poll is collated from four separate surveys of the production market, during which we ask producers to name the three post houses they use the most and the three they rate highest. Broadcast producer votes come from our ‘Production 100’ survey, published in September. The commercials producer votes are collated during our ‘Commercials 30’ survey, published in November, while the corporate producer votes come from our ‘Corporate 50’ survey, published in March. We also ask commercials, broadcast, corporate and film producers for their favourite post houses in our ‘Production Management’ survey, published in August.