Private Viewing: Suffolk’s time has come to be regarded as a cultural centre

Matthew McGuchan, left, and Julien Mery, far right, with members of Visit Suffolk at a film conferen

Matthew McGuchan, left, and Julien Mery, far right, with members of Visit Suffolk at a film conference. - Credit: cont

The time has come to really sell Suffolk as a centre of culture. Arts editor Andrew Clarke celebrates the launch of a homegrown film

Film Suffolk is selling the county as a perfect place to make films

Film Suffolk is selling the county as a perfect place to make films - Credit: Archant

For those of us who live here, we’ve always known that Suffolk is a creative county. We have writers, actors, artists, musicians, dancers, producers, directors and production staff seemingly tucked away behind every hedgerow.

We have talent in abundance as the presence in the county of eight Arts Council-funded companies creating work of a national standard proves.

Despite a reticence to sing our own praises, surely the time has come to finally start shouting about what Suffolk has to offer the nation’s cultural economy.

Culture is increasingly an important element of our economy both nationally and locally and we need to make sure that Suffolk is regarded as a place where cutting-edge culture is created. It’s high time we laid the term Sleepy Suffolk to rest.

The New Wolsey Theatre, DanceEast, HighTide theatre festival and Aldeburgh Music consistently commission and stage new work which invariably either goes on tour or has a life at venues outside the county.

Now a new organisation is hoping to put creative Suffolk on the film-making map by creating a feature film which has been written, produced, directed and crewed by professional film-makers from Suffolk. It will be shot in the county and star local people. Entitled With Love From... Suffolk, it is both a love letter to the diverse nature of our county and a calling card for outside film-makers to come and make films here.

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The project, inspired by the portmanteau film New York, I Love You, is the brainchild of Film Suffolk, a co-operative organisation designed to be a promotional resource for film professionals living and working here. The producer is Julien Mery and script editor is Matthew McGuchan both from Livid Films based in Ipswich.

Speaking to the pair at the launch of With Love From... Suffolk at the IFT this week, it is clear that they both feel it is time that we all started singing Suffolk’s praises rather than hiding our light under a bushel.

Julien said: “We are all tremendously proud that Mat Kirkby won the Oscar for Best Short Film last week for The Phone Call. It was terrific that a Suffolk film-maker won but who knew Mat was a film-maker working in Suffolk?

“It’s the nature of the creative arts that we all work on our own individual projects behind closed doors and we don’t talk to one another. Film Suffolk is about helping Suffolk’s film-makers have a collective voice. We want to make it easier for local people to make films in Suffolk and to attract outside film-makers to shoot films here.

“That’s what With Love From... Suffolk is all about. It will provide a brilliant showcase for Suffolk locations and provide a valuable calling card for local film professionals. So, when visiting productions decide to shoot here they know that they can hire trained professionals from the locality and don’t have to bring and house lots of expensive people from London.

“They will be pleasantly surprised to learn that many of the people they already work with in London live in Suffolk and actually prefer driving to the set from home rather than driving down the A12 or A14-M11 for two hours.”

He said the plan is to shoot the 90-minute feature film during the summer. Script editor Matthew McGuchan said the movie will be a celebration of different aspects of contemporary Suffolk and a love story. “It’s a love story in the widest possible sense. The idea is to explore the ups and downs – and sideways – of human relationships within the backdrop offered by this great county. We want twists and great characters delivered in a story that will be no more than ten minutes long on screen. That’s ten pages of script max. It can be shorter.” He said that to concentrate people’s minds they want story ideas delivered by March 15. “It doesn’t need to be a polished screenplay but what we are looking for is an intriguing, engaging story which we can weave into a linked narrative, held together by a character which will link up to ten stories and will present a loving portrait of modern Suffolk.”

This is a great opportunity to lay to rest that lingering image of Suffolk as a sleepy backwater and to make it known that we truly are a creative county .

Send scripts in an editable format with correct film script formatting to