Filming in the UK
The UK has plenty to offer producers looking for a place to shoot their film. There’s a vast range of locations to suit different projects, as well as some top class modern studio facilities. An extensive crew and technicians base is easy to access, and pricings tend towards the competitive. To assist in funding your film, there is a substantial tax credit for films whose activities relate to the UK and that can be deemed as British. For more information on qualifying for tax relief read here. The best place to start if you have any queries about filming in the UK is the British Film Commission (BFC). They can offer broad advice on sourcing locations, crew and talent, tax relief and UK commissions and agencies which support production. Visit www.britishfilmcommission.org.uk for more information.
Location and Production Services Support
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BRITISH FILM COMMISSION
British Film Commission
The Arts Building
London N4 3JG
T: +44 (0)20 7613 7675
F: +44 (0)20 7613 7677
BRITISH FILM INSTITUTE
21 Stephen Street
London W1T 1LN
Tel: +44 (0)20 7255 1444
Kevin Macdonald filmed his feature How I Live Now on location in Wales with rising star Saoirse Ronan. Adapted from a novel by Meg Rosoff, the film tells the story of a New York teen sent to live with cousins in the English countryside as a global conflict erupts.
Macdonald shot during the Welsh summer and the Wales Screen Commission helped the production find the film’s main farmhouse setting in Carmarthenshire in the south of the country. Other filming locations included the back lot at Dragon International Studios at Llanilid and a training village used by the Ministry of Defence in Sennybridge.
“Wales has an amazing variety of stunning landscapes and contemporary environments in which to film,” explained Penny Skuse of Wales Screen Commission: “We often surprise producers and location managers with the diversity of locations available, and how easy it is to get around.
“In south Wales especially, you can go from modern cityscapes to sweeping mountain vistas within 45 minutes. We also have highly experienced crew and the facilities to support productions.”
“How I Live Now was the most fun I’ve ever had making a film,” commented Kevin Macdonald.
Directed by Oscar-winner Sam Mendes and starring Daniel Craig, Skyfall was a world-wide box office success and shot extensively in London. The 23rd film in the Bond franchise features a number of iconic London landmarks as well as seeing the capital doubling for other international cities, such as Shanghai.
Following a successful shoot in the capital, Skyfall producers Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, commented "the complexities of shooting in one of the world's most exciting locations was made so much easier with the willing enthusiasm and experience of everyone at Film London."
London Locations used in the film during its five month shoot, included Whitehall, Millbank, Vauxhall Bridge, The Old Royal Naval College, National Gallery and Charing Cross Underground Station.
In order to deliver for such a large scale project, the production involved the support of London's boroughs and agencies, including the Metropolitan Police Service Film Unit, Transport for London, the Mayor of London and the London Underground Film Office. All of which are members of the London Filming Partnership and committed to ensuring the capital is film friendly.
Supervising Location Manager, James Grant, explains that although a success, the complex shoot did require careful and meticulous planning: “Whilst the capital has many iconic locations, they all require thorough preparation. For this reason the work started back in the summer of 2011 to finalise locations that involved multi agency cooperation. Film London were instrumental in supporting and assisting with this process & I am very grateful for all their help and guidance.”
WWZ Synopsis: United Nations employee Gerry Lane traverses the world in a race against time to stop the Zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments, and threatening to decimate humanity itself. In the summer of 2011 George Square became host to the biggest urban film set ever shot in Scotland.
Scotland's largest city centre and the surrounding streets were closed and transformed into Philadelphia. When shooting started the square became over run with US military vehicles and personnel and hundreds of zombies all rabidly eager to take a chunk out of Brad Pitt.
"The production spent many months looking for the perfect city centre location to play an important part in the film. Glasgows architecture, wide roads and grid layout proved the ideal setting for director Marc Forster. Glasgow City Council and Glasgow Film Office played an important part in welcoming the production to the city centre." Michael Harm: Location Manager
WWZ Image: Sourced from Glasgow Film Office
There can be few partnerships in the British Film industry as potent and successful as that of iconic British director Ridley Scott and Northern Irish producer Mark Huffam (Game of Thrones, Mamma Mia!, Saving Private Ryan) and the UK is always their first choice to film.
When Scott and Huffam were considering where to shoot the $150m sci-fi project Prometheus they knew they wanted to be based in the UK. 20th Century Fox however wanted to run the numbers on other locations. “We could have done the studio work in Hungary, Australia or Prague,” says Huffam. “But the UK is Ridley’s home and when you take the tax break into consideration, the UK was the most competitive.”
Prometheus did most of its studio work at Pinewood and Fox was happy. “In the UK the costs are quantifiable. The [US] studios like that,” Huffam explains. “As long as you have done your due diligence, if you say the budget is going to be X, it will be X. The crew is a motivated, hard-working crew.”
The British Film Commission (BFC) is a proud contributor to this successful partnership. When circumstances forced the schedule of Ridley Scott’s central-London based thriller, The Counselor, to clash with the London 2012 Paralympic Marathon, described as the most complex logistical operation in peacetime London, the BFC were able to step in. Thanks to the agency’s successful liaison between the production team, Film London, the Met Police Filming Unit, Westminster Council, the Mayor of London and the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), the shoot went ahead with no disruption to either event.
The Counselor, starring Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender and Cameron Diaz, is released in November 2013. Ridley Scott and Mark Huffam are currently in production on Sony television epic, The Vatican...
The English regions are doubling for 19th century France in Les Misérables , the hotly anticipated feature film adaptation of Victor Hugo’s novel, which opened in cinemas on January 11, 2013. Regional gems from the National Trust’s Ashridge Estate to the Historic Dockyard Chatham in Kent and including Winchester College and the so-called ‘English Versailles’: Boughton House in Northamptonshire all feature in the blockbuster, which spent over 30 days shooting at range of locations across the country. Camilla Stephenson, Supervising Location Manager on Les Misérables , said: “People might be surprised to discover that only a tiny portion of our film was actually filmed in France. There are some fantastic locations to be found in our stunning English regions that worked perfectly for our early 19th Century France. Local authorities, councils and residents in each of our several areas couldn't have been more helpful and enthusiastic and made a difficult job a real pleasure.”
The Working Title/Cameron Mackintosh production is directed by Academy Award®-winning director, Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) and stars Hugh Jackman, Oscar® winner Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Aaron Tveit, Samantha Barks, with Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen. Harvey Edgington, National Trust’s Broadcast and Media Manager, said: “The crew arrived [at the Ashridge Estate] in late April 2012 to shoot in the huge expanse of woodland at Ashridge. Once again the estate stood in for foreign countryside, having doubled in the past for Germany, Scotland, France and even Dinotopia. It’s even been home to the wall that is the border with the magical kingdom of Stormhold in the film Stardust. This time it was the outskirts of Paris in the mid-winter.”
Many local authorities are keen to encourage this investment and Creative England is offering them the opportunity to sign up to its Film Friendly Partnership programme, whereby they will give a clear signal to industry that they are ready, willing and able to handle film and television enquiries quickly and efficiently. So far nine local authorities have signed up to Creative England’s Film Friendly Charter, including Cheshire, Gloucestershire, Greater Manchester, Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Lincolnshire.
Norwegian director Liv Ullman is shooting a new €4.3m film adaptation of the Swedish play Miss Julie at Castle Coole in Co Fermanagh, funded by the Irish Film Board and Northern Ireland Screen, starring Colin Farrell and two-time Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain. The film is an Irish/Norwegian/English co-production, produced by Tristan Orpen Lynch of Dublin-based Subotica, Maipo Films in Norway, and Apocalypse Films in London.
The Producer Teun Hilte on the choice of Castle Coole in Co. Fermanagh, Northern Ireland: "After an extensive search across Europe, we selected County Fermanagh for its beautiful natural setting. It will form the perfect backdrop to Liv Ullmann's much anticipated adaption of Miss Julie and we look forward to presenting it to worldwide cinema audiences in all its glory". Based on the 1888 play by August Strindberg, Miss Julie follows attempts by an aristocrat’s daughter to encourage her father’s valet to seduce her - in an examination of inter-class divisions and sexuality.
Fresh from her Oscar nomination for Best Actress for ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ - in which she played the CIA agent who dedicated her career to relentlessly hunting Osama Bin Laden- Jessica Chastain will star in the title role of the daughter of an Anglo-Irish aristocrat. Colin Farrell will co-star as the valet, engaged to an Irish cook played by Samantha Morton, with the story unfolding over a midsummer’s night in Fermanagh in 1890 rather than the original setting of Sweden. The 19th century play of ‘Miss Julie’ courted controversy for its depiction of sexually-charged subject matter and was banned in the UK for 50 years, shocking critics across Europe, but is now widely considered a critically-acclaimed masterpiece.