Public investment has created a ‘critical mass’ of film activity in North East England, according to Northern Film & Media chief executive Tom Harvey.
Northern Film & Media’s £2.4 million public-venture capital investment partnership with Northstar Ventures - which will close next month - has backed 9 features and 4 film indies out of a total of 18 investments over 2 years.
The pilot Finance for Business – North East Creative Content Fund, which operates on commercial terms, has brought £5 million of investment into the region, according to Northern Film & Media.
Amongst the film investments are Paul Andrew Williams’ A Song For Marion starring Terence Stamp, Vanessa Redgrave, Gemma Arterton, Christopher Ecclestone, which has just been picked up by The Weinstein Company for the US as well as securing a slew of other sales out of AFM.
Also on the varied slate is Dan Turner’s The Man Inside starring Peter Mullan, David Harewood, Michelle Ryan and The Liability, which is currently shooting in the North East and stars Tim Roth and Tullulah Riley.
The fund has also provided investment in several North East indies, including Vita Nova Films and Ipso Facto Films.
Meanwhile, Northern Film & Media has also used its own funds to invest in low budget feature films, with its current slate including Turner Prize winning artist Gillian Wearing’s directorial debut Self Made, psychological thrillers Frank and Unconditional, and teen horror Rising Tide. Northern Film & Media is now seeking distribution for the films.
“Film has been the big winner in our Content Fund deals. Investment – rather than ‘soft’ cash – has made the region an attractive filming destination and provided tax payers with value for money. Filmmakers have also switched on to the diverse locations, talented crews and cost effectiveness of filming in the North East,” said Harvey.
“Back in 2009, the North East was underrepresented in both film and TV. Investment has revitalised the industry and the results have been transformational. We now have five key TV dramas that have attracted combined viewing figures of 76 million in the past year and a diverse slate of features covering most budgets and genres.
“Whilst there is evidently less public cash around now, we will continue to develop our slate of low budget feature films. We will also develop creative talent and promote the region as both a filming destination and as a place where creative companies and talent can thrive. The investments we have made over the last 10 years have helped create a buoyant industry and companies repeatedly return to film in the region,” he added.
Northern Film & Media was the first regional screen agency to opt out of Creative England, although the agency plans to work alongside the new regional body. “We are looking forward to developing our working relationship with Creative England and have a range of partners lined up who are determined to maintain an agency presence the North East through the reinvention of Northern Film & Media,” said Harvey.