Screen test for rural business

RURAL businesses in the East of England have been given an insight into how they can cash in on the region's £26million film location boom. Bleak House, Batman Begins and the Harry Potter films were all filmed partly in the East of England, more than 150 rural businesses who packed a free Screen East and Rural Gateway seminar held at Elveden Hall were told yesterday.

RURAL businesses in the East of England have been given an insight into how they can cash in on the region's £26million film location boom.

Bleak House, Batman Begins and the Harry Potter films were all filmed partly in the East of England, more than 150 rural businesses who packed a free Screen East and Rural Gateway seminar held at Elveden Hall were told yesterday.

The region has become one of the most popular regions in the UK for TV and film-making, with over 200 requests a month from production companies for a wide range of locations, props and back-up services.

The benefits are not confined to stately homes and large landowners, and unusual requests include settings which could serve as lunar landscapes, Egyptian deserts and Korean paddy fields.


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There is also regular demand for period-style streets, farms and large barns or warehouses. Services provided by local florists, drycleaners, wood suppliers and cleaners are also in regular demand from production companies.

“The film industry injected £25.7million into the regional economy during 2005-06 and enquiries from film companies for locations and support services are already up by 17% this year. The sector provides a fantastic opportunity for rural businesses and there are different ways to get involved,” said Kerry Ixer, head of locations and inward investment at Screen East.

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“For instance, while we already have 7,000 locations on our database, we're constantly looking for more. Period houses and farms are clearly popular, but we need to be able to offer properties of all kinds. Municipal buildings, ecclesiastical buildings, residential properties, schools, colleges, areas of coastline - all of these are frequently in demand by film-makers.

“And it's not just about locations. Film companies need a huge variety of support services to assist with a major production. These range from accommodation and catering, through to construction, cleaning equipment hire and even transport.”

The seminar, hosted jointly by the East of England Development Agency's Rural Gateway Service and Screen East, explained what types of locations, props and support services were most in demand and what they needed to do to get involved.

Elvira Schmidt, project manager of Rural Gateway, explained: “In 2004-5, the UK film industry contributed £960million to GDP. The east of England already gets a big chunk of this, but we can do even better.

“The locations, props and skills required by the TV and film industry are not always the most obvious so many rural businesses may not realise the potential of the assets they have to be used in this way.

“We hope the seminar will open their eyes to the opportunities available to them and show them how simple it is to get involved.”

To find out how to register your business, visit www.screeneast.co.uk.

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