Locations around the country are benefiting from the high levels of film production in the UK, as filmmaking ripples out from studios around London.
Film is now a major economic driver for the UK. Recent BFI figures show that £1.1bn was spent on film production in the UK in 2013, up 7.5% on 2012. The picture is of a thriving film production sector, one that is increasingly geared to large scale inward investment films. Indeed, 37 inward investment films last year accounted for 81% of the total UK production spend, including Guardians of the Galaxy, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Imitation Game and The Monuments Men.
This spend is largely concentrated on London and the studio bases around the capital that house the films. But it is also rippling out across the UK, with films shooting on location throughout England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Listed below are many of the films that have recently shot or are shooting outside the capital.
Creative England, which helps productions arrange location shoots around England, says its Production Services team supported a record £80.5m of location filming in the 2013/14 financial year, including 95 feature films (29 inward investment) and 89 TV dramas (11 inward investment).
As has been well documented, the big budget inward investment films are attracted here for various reasons, including the skilled production talent base and infrastructure in the UK as well as the competitive tax reliefs on offer.
Location managers confirm that it is a busy time. “We are enjoying a bit of a boom time at the moment, says Jonah Coombes, whose credits include Girl With a Dragon Tattoo, Rush, The Social Network and Paddington. “I’m getting lots of calls about projects and enquiries about my availability.”
In fact, he says it is so busy that it is becoming difficult to crew up. “There seems to be so many high pedigree projects running at the moment that it is really quite difficult to find the right people. It is frustrating – but obviously great at the same time.”
Location manager James Grant, whose credits include Alice Through the Looking Glass, World War Z and Skyfall, also says it is busy time for film production in the UK. “It’s very often feast or famine. But, for the time being, location managers find themselves in the position of being in demand.”
However, he adds: “It will be interesting whether it continues to be busy.” Grant says he worries that some departments might be taking advantage of current demand, becoming increasingly work to rule in terms of overtime and hours on the clock.” He warns that the industry musn’t “bite the hand that feeds it,” pointing out that the US studios could quickly shift production to rival territories if the UK is perceived to be too difficult and expensive to work in.
That said, location managers say that the UK remains a pretty good place to shoot, with local authorities increasingly recognising the value of attracting film productions. London, however, is now very expensive to shoot in. “If you want to film in central London on a large feature film, you would have to budget £50k-£60k a day,” says Grant.
Coombes says that the likes of Film London and Creative England regional film offices have helped put measures in place to make shooting on location a more accountable, predictable and generally smoother process. Coombes recalls working on 28 Weeks Later, the sequel to Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later, and having to make London look like it had been abandoned for six months. “What we achieved on that project let me to believe that, given the right approach, anything really is possible.”
Coombes says that once productions get out of London, there is a “tangible difference in terms of how you are received when you propose to bring the circus to town.” Perhaps because large-scale shoots are much rarer, they are more likely to be received with more interest and enthusiasm, he says.
He stresses that films can – and should – make themselves more welcome on location by opening up to the local community, where appropriate offering employment and work experience on the production. Says Coombes: “It’s not always viable or required, but if it’s an ambitious proposal and you are moving into a small community, it is important for the production to recognise that and offer something back over and above a donation to their residents association.”
Films that have shot outside London
Producer Crab Apple Films
Locations Lancashire, Merseyside, Yorkshire
Alice in Wonderland:
Through the Looking Glass
Producer Walt Disney Studio Elstree
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Producer Marvel Studios
Locations Hampshire, Surrey, Kent, Norwich
Locations County Down, Antrim, Omagh, Beflast
Edge of Tomorrow
Producer 3 Arts Entertainment
Producer Davis Ent/Twentieth Century Fox
Locations Aberdeenshire, Manchester, Greenwich
Producer Le Grisbi/Columbia Pictures
Locations Hertfordshire, Oxfordshire
Girls Night Out
Producer Ecosse Films
Guardians of the Galaxy
Producer Marvel Studios
Location Essex, Hertfordshire
How I Live Now
Producer Cowboy Films
Producer See-Saw Films
Locations Isle of Skye, Cambridgeshire
The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
Producer Warner Bros
Locations Kent, Surrey, Sussex
The Monuments Men
Producer Columbia Pictures
Locations Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, East Sussex, Hampshire, Kent & Oxfordshire
Producer Thin Man
Locations Cornwall, South Yorkshire
Muppets Most Wanted
Producer Walt Disney Pictures
Locations Kent, Oxfordshire
Producer Heyday/Warner Bros Studio Elstree
Producer Warner Bros
Studio Leavesden Studios
Producer Calamity Films
Locations Neath Port Talbot, Berkshire
Locations County Down, County Antrim, Belfast
Spooks: The Greater Good
Producer Kudos Film and TV Studio Shepperton
Locations Warwickshire, Isle of Man
Star Wars Episode VII
Producer Lucasfilm Studio Pinewood Studios
Producer Ruby Films Studio Elstree
Locations Hertfordshire, Berkshire, Kent
Producer Warner Bros Studio Leavesden
Locations Derbyshire, Gwynedd, Berkshire
Testament of Youth
Producer Heyday Films
Producer Angry Films Studio Pinewood
Locations Buckinghamshire, Surrey
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