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With a new production fund and a studios complex in the pipeline, the Liverpool Film Office is seeking to build on the city’s outstanding film & TV heritage
Ofcom’s announcement around regional production and programming was the perfect 30th birthday present for Liverpool Film Office.
Over the years, the team has worked hard to raise the profile of Liverpool and the wider city region within the film and TV industries – successfully positioning the city as an area rich with a variety of locations and a dedicated team on-hand with a can-do attitude.
So Ofcom’s decision, which will directly result in job creation within the sector and a tangible legacy outside of the capital, is a welcome gift.
The first of its kind in the UK, Liverpool Film Office’s workload may be staggeringly different from its early days, yet the remit remains the same: raise the profile of the city region, attract inward investment and build an indigenous production sector.
Established by Liverpool City Council in 1989 to manage an increasing number of filming enquiries directed at the authority, the demand has transformed over three decades.
Production is on the up – figures for 2018 reveal that it was the busiest-ever year for broadcast and digital production, with 366 film and TV projects filmed in the city region, producing 1,364 film days and generating a whopping £16.1m for the local economy.
Projects with the calibre of Peaky Blinders, Years And Years, Sometimes Always Never, and Danny Boyle and Richard Curtis’s Yesterday – currently garnering critical acclaim – are commonplace on the region’s streets, with residents used to seeing camera crews taking over an area for days, or even weeks, at a time.
Head of Liverpool Film Office Lynn Saunders has been part of the team from the outset. “Initially, productions came for the diverse locations, from urban period architecture to beaches, coastline, villages and rural backdrops – the city region has it all,” she says.
“Over time, it has become much more than that. It’s now down to the experienced crew base, the infrastructure that supports it and the knowledge and unflappable attitude my team and the city has.”
“Liverpool is a thriving, 24-hour city with an enviable cultural offer – whatever time of year a crew is here, there is always something for them to see and do”
Lynn Saunders, Liverpool Film Office
Saunders acknowledges the professional, comprehensive service producers receive makes them want to bring their production to the city – and keeps them coming back. But, of course, the pull of the city itself is key. She adds: “Liverpool is a thriving, 24-hour city with an enviable cultural offer – whatever time of year a crew is here, there is always something for them to see and do.”
But don’t just take the Film Office’s word for it. Betsan Morris Evans, producer of The War Of The Worlds, says: “I honestly feel in the near future, Liverpool will be the main place to film in Britain. Liverpool Film Office made our time in the city so easy, from closing roads to helping source locations. It was a wonderful working relationship.”
But this ambitious team doesn’t rest on its laurels. In April, the Liverpool City Region Production Fund launched to boost the number, range and scale of films and scripted TV being made in the region and to make strategic investments to help develop the screen sector. Also in the pipeline is the Littlewoods Studios complex, managed by Twickenham
Studios. Along with the fund, it will create jobs and further develop the screen sector, crew base and supply chain in Liverpool. The city’s infrastructure for innovation, which was put in place three decades ago, has paid dividends for the region and the sector.
As Liverpool Film Office enters its next decade, that optimism and drive remains. Saunders concludes: “I’m so proud of the reputation we have established and everything the team has achieved. We are excited about what the future holds as Liverpool leads the way and continues to be one of the UK’s most-filmed destinations outside of London.”
For more information on the Liverpool City Region Production Fund, or to find out more about filming in the city, go to: www.liverpoolfilmoffice.tv