Annual figures released today by Bristol Film Office, which celebrates its 15th birthday this month, reflect another healthy year for film and TV production in the city in 2017-18, with £15.2 million inward investment generated towards Bristol’s economy and a 10% rise in recorded filming days.*
In a year that saw more 383 productions issued with permits to film in the city, Bristol Film Office recorded 1141 filming days at Bristol locations and/or at The Bottle Yard Studios, the largest film and TV studio in the West of England. Accompanying figures released by The Bottle Yard indicate that for every ‘broadcast hour’ of on-screen drama made at the Studios last year, an estimated 14 FTE jobs were created. A total of 470 FTE jobs is estimated to have been generated by all productions (including drama and entertainment) and tenant businesses at The Bottle Yard Studios in 2017-18.
Founded in 2003 with the mission to “attract, assist and provide business development opportunities for the moving image industry for the benefit of the city’s economy”, Bristol Film Office has been facilitating TV & film productions in the city for 15 years. In this time its operations have generated more than £1.4 million of income for Bristol City Council through filming permits and charges and, in partnership with The Bottle Yard Studios, it has assisted TV & film production worth more than £235 million of inward investment for the city, an average total of £15.8 million per year.**
Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, says: “The continuing success of Bristol Film Office and The Bottle Yard Studios in attracting film and TV productions is a major factor behind securing the city’s status as a UNESCO City of Film. Our international reputation as a centre for film is one that is based on developing strong partnerships across the sector to deliver high quality training, develop sought after skills and attract a diverse talent pool to suit the needs of productions large and small. As those partnerships grow and we continue to better connect our world class universities with innovative production companies and effective training programmes, we hope to grow this sector even further to deliver greater benefit to the city and its communities.”
Bristol Film Office’s Natalie Moore added: “As we celebrate 15 years of promoting Bristol as a film-friendly city, we’re delighted to look back on another strong year for TV & film production. £15.2 million is a significant total and the 10% rise in filming days shows that Bristol is more than maintaining its popularity as a leading filming destination outside London. The fact that we can host four major features and ten TV productions in one year is proof that Bristol does filming really, really well.”
“Over the past 15 years the Film Office has worked with homegrown and visiting productions across Bristol and in that time the local industry has grown in both size and reputation. We’ve witnessed milestones along the way - the opening of The Bottle Yard in 2010 and Bristol achieving UNESCO City of Film status last year are just two that stand out – but what has remained at the heart of our work is a clear understanding of how beneficial filming is to Bristol, both economically and culturally. We look forward to continuing our work over the coming years to keep Bristol at the forefront of producers’ minds when they’re considering their next shoot. Right now our armoury is stronger than ever; our track-record, the versatility of our locations, the appeal of The Bottle Yard Studios and the expertise of our crew base, facilities companies and post production sector, all go together to form a very competitive package.”
Four feature films were shot in Bristol last year. In April 2017, both the upcoming Laurel & Hardy biopic Stan & Ollie starring Steve Coogan and John C Reilly (which will have its World Premiere when it closes this year’s BFI London Film Festival on 21 October) and Mike Newell’s The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society starring Lily James and Matthew Goode, used the city’s historic harbour and iconic ship The Balmoral as key filming locations. Iain Morris’s raucous comedy The Festival from the creators of The Inbetweeners filmed on sets at The Bottle Yard Studios and on location at Colston Hall, Hengrove Park and Ashton Court last summer, and Neil Marshall’s upcoming blockbuster Hellboy: Rise of the Blood Queen starring David Harbour (due to UK premiere in January 2019) used Waring House, a council block in the city’s Redcliffe area, for night-shooting of major scenes last September.
The year saw a host of high-profile TV titles filmed in the city. Sky drama A Discovery of Witches starring Matthew Goode and Teresa Palmer (showing now on Sky One and Now TV) made the most of Bristol locations including Corn Street and Deanery Lane which doubled for Oxford. Series three of Sky Atlantic’s major arctic thriller Fortitude starring Dennis Quaid and Richard Dormer (due to air later this year) recreated the icy extremes of Svalbard, Norway in sets at The Bottle Yard Studios, whilst the fourth series of BBC One’s Poldark built more sets at the Studios than ever before, 18 in total including a period-correct scale replica of the House of Commons. Dramatic mine scenes were also filmed in the underground tunnels of Redcliffe Caves. Hard-hitting Channel 4 drama Kiri starring Sarah Lancashire, also chose Bristol’s urban streets and green spaces as its backdrop whilst also filming the city from the sky, arranging significant use of camera drones.
Other shows made last year included BBC Four drama Eric, Ernie & Me which was critically acclaimed upon its 2017 festive release, and Sky’s long running supermarket comedy Trollied, which filmed its seventh and final series at The Bottle Yard Studios, which had been its home since the show’s launch in 2010. Gameshows were well represented, with Channel 4’s The Crystal Maze filming a second set of episodes from its impressive sets at The Bottle Yard Studios, whilst ITV’s Tipping Point and Tipping Point Lucky Stars also relocated to the Studios in March this year following a bumper ITV commission of 354 episodes over two years.
More CGI magic targeted at young audiences was crafted on the Studios’ green screen, by Steve Backshall for his new CBBC show Deadly Dinosaurs, and Andy Day, whose popular CBeebies hit Andy’s Safari Adventures filmed a second run of episodes.
Overall, total inward investment to Bristol from productions using services provided by Bristol Film Office and The Bottle Yard Studios totalled £15,248,000 in 2017/18.
Bristol has a long-standing reputation as being film-friendly and has been home to some of the UK‘s biggest ever TV hits, including Casualty, Skins, Being Human, Only Fools and Horses and The Young Ones. Bristol Film Office has been supporting filming in the city since 2003 and The Bottle Yard Studios has been accommodating productions on its Hengrove site since 2010. In 2017 Bristol was designated a UNESCO City of Film, a permanent status that celebrates Bristol’s achievements as a leading city in the field of film and moving image.
* Bristol Film Office's annual inward investment figures are calculated using national average production spend figures that have been compiled by Creative England with contribution from all national Film Offices' data.
** The Bottle Yard Studios 2017 On-Site Employment Summary
** 15 Years of Bristol Film Office - figures calculated using Creative England’s investment calculator (inward investment figures began in 2005).