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Future Cities Forum at the BFI - investment in the UK's film sector

Above: New film studios - designed by Scott Brownrigg - at Shinfield, Berkshire (Image courtesy Earth Grid & Curo)

Future Cities Forum will be holding its March forum at the British Film Institute on the future of the UK's booming film and television industry, asking how long investment in this sector can be sustained, and how it is creating work for architects, planners and construction firms?

The British Film Institute has revealed new figures showing a combined spend by film and high-end television production in the UK during 2022 of £6.27 billion, the highest ever reported and £2.7 billion higher than 2019.

Scott Brownrigg's Director Jason Lebidineuse will be speaking about the firm's work at Shinfield Studios. The masterplan and architectural design for a new state-of-the-art media hub at the Thames Valley Science Park [TSVP] in Berkshire - received full planning approval by Wokingham Borough Council in early 2022. The £250 million film and TV studios will provide approximately 85,000 square metres of sound stages, workshops, offices and ancillary spaces, becoming one of the largest film and TV studios in the UK.

Four stages are now ready for operation, with a Disney production confirmed to start in 2022. Once complete Shinfield Studios will create up to 3,000 new jobs and is expected to generate total inward investment to the UK economy of approximately £600 million each year.

Jason commented:

“Scott Brownrigg are passionate about designing the next generation of sound studios, taking a whole lifecycle approach to design, construction, use, maintenance, recycling and reuse. Sustainability and technology are at the core of fully flexible buildings for the future film and to content.”

Scott Brownrigg has also been working on other major film studio sites in the UK including HOP Bedfordshire, which transforms a former clay extraction works into the largest new build film and television studio campus in the UK. Also the practice has been transforming Longcross Studios in Berkshire, where the architects have been asked create a new masterplan that supports new business, housing and open space across an ex-military and vehicle testing ground site adjacent to the M3 motorway at Chertsey. The practice has described the approach taken at Longcross:

'Our approach was to retain as much of the existing infrastructure on site as possible. The masterplan has evolved over 15 years to include a film studio occupied by Netflix, who base their studios, workshops and post production in ex-military redbrick buildings, set in a defence style environment and within new space created across the northern portion of the site. Located alongside new apartments and housing, the film studio has become a preferred base location in the UK for a number of film stars.'

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan highlighted this week the vital role London’s growing film industry is playing in the capital’s economic success, as he met with the next generation of film talent studying at the London Screen Academy. Sadiq and Deputy Mayor for Culture and Creative Industries Justine Simons OBE joined Working Title co-chair Eric Fellner, film producer Barbara Broccoli and BAFTA winning film producer Lisa Bryer at the London Screen Academy (LSA) in Islington, and spoke to some of the 800 students working to become the next industry heavyweights. The Mayor was given a tour of the free sixth form academy, which was founded by London based film producers, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Michael G Wilson, Barbara Broccoli, David Heyman, and Lisa Bryer, to teach a vocational curriculum comprising of behind the camera skills – from casting to costume and editing – providing the knowledge needed to join the film and television industry. London is the driving force of the industry, the Mayors office says with 40 films and TV series shooting on the streets of the capital at any one time. That includes the new untitled Bob Marley biopic, a feature film with Peaky Blinders star Kingsley Ben-Adir, as well as the much-anticipated return of flagship Netflix series staples The Crown and Bridgerton.

The Mayor's office also stated that the it has made huge strides to unlock the potential of the industry, investing more than £19 million over the last five years to support young people and expand studio space:

'The Mayor, Sadiq Khan, continues to champion the industry which is estimated to be worth over £7 billion by 2024/25 and expected to need to fill more than 50,000 jobs in the industry. Last year the Mayor announced a partnership with NBCUniversal giving young Londoners from underrepresented communities the opportunity to work behind-the-camera on TV and film productions. 'A focus of the Mayor’s investment has been developing the skills of those who wish to pursue a film career, including through the Creative Skills Academy, a partnership with Film London that aims to connect people who have traditionally been under-represented in the sector with opportunities for employment and freelance work. Sadiq has also ensured that as many opportunities as possible have been made available through a wide range of initiatives, including funding Film London’s Equal Access Network which works with high profile employers such as ITV, Sony and Studio Canal to help them diversify their workforce and secured nearly £10 million in funding to build new film studios that will create 1,200 jobs.'


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