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Film boost for straitened councils

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Council film officers are reporting a boom in enquiries from production companies in what is seen as evidence that the film industry is bucking the downward trend during the recession.

According to the Local Government Association, £535m was spent purely on film production in the UK in the first half of 2009, the highest figure for that period since 2004 and an increase of more than 47% compared to the same six months in 2008.

Films accounting for that sum included Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I and Gulliver’s Travels.

The Calling, above, which stars Brenda Blethyn, Rita Tushingham, Amanda Donohoe and Susannah York, was partly filmed in Kent and the county council provided £75,000 of funding for the film and also worked to secure match funding.

The LGA says a growing network of film offices in town halls is ensuring businesses and residents all over the country benefit from the film industry’s spending.

Attracting film-makers to an area creates business for hotels and caterers and offers local people the chance to develop new skills and careers.

Tourism can also experience a major boost as the result of an area’s movie connections.

It is estimated around one in ten visits to the UK can be attributed to the impact of British films, worth around £1.8bn a year.

Chris White, chair of the Culture, Tourism and Sport Board at the LGA, said: “Film and television makers are valuable customers which councils are helping bring into local areas.

“The business of making a movie benefits the hospitality industry and local caterers, and can turn a location into a major tourist draw for years to come.”

Examples:

  • Richard Curtis’ film, The Boat that Rocked, was filmed in Portland after Weymouth and Portland Borough Council helped negotiate contracts and agreement from a landowner who had initially said no. The film brought in an estimated £1.5 million to the local economy.
  • The Lancashire Film Office attracted £3,476,000 of inward investment during 2008-09 from a total of 67 productions.
  • Hampshire County Council runs Film Hampshire, which offers a database of 350 possible film locations and local companies supplying specialist film services.
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