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The Personal History of David Copperfield being filmed in Bury St Edmunds Credit Screen Suffolk

Screen Suffolk shines a light on the screen industry in the county

Wednesday 22 February 2023

Screen Suffolk has signed a new five-year contract to deliver the Film Office service in the county on behalf of Suffolk County Council, West Suffolk Council, Ipswich Borough Council, Babergh and Mid Suffolk Council, and East Suffolk Council. Screen Suffolk were initially commissioned to create the service in 2016 and the success of the last six years has led to the extension.

Councillor Susie Morley, Chair of Suffolk Public Sector Leaders group and Leader of Mid Suffolk District Council said: ‘The screen industries are growing across the UK. Screen Suffolk ensures we are part of that growth, and that film productions shoot in the county, buy our film services and create opportunities for local employment and work experience. The more filming that we attract to Suffolk, the more the county will become a place for screen professionals to live and work. We are working hard to make Suffolk a place where the screen sector can thrive. We know Screen Suffolk is a critical part of this, along with skills development, work spaces, rail and road connections and studios.’

Prior to Screen Suffolk there were 30 filming days recorded across the county by separate local authorities.  In their first year Screen Suffolk recorded 212 days and the tally now stands at over 1000 days of filming.

Jim Horsfield, Film Officer said: ‘We looked at levels of spend for productions that have visited the county, ranging from a Hollywood blockbuster to a daytime TV show, and estimated that this economic impact for Suffolk was £13,500 per day. This may seem like a lot, but when you take into account hotels, local equipment suppliers, crew visiting restaurants locally it quickly stacks up. Suffolk has benefited by £14.5m since we started.’

There have been many large scale productions in the county since Screen Suffolk formed. The Personal History of David Copperfield’ transformed Angel Hill in Bury St Edmunds into Dickensian London.

Cllr Susan Glossop, Cabinet Member for Growth, West Suffolk Council said: “We are pleased to be working with other local authorities to continue to support Screen Suffolk. The figures show that the service Screen Suffolk provides is invaluable to the economy - offering employment, work experience and investment into filming locations across the county. We hope that West Suffolk continues to be seen as a desirable filming location and as a council we are happy to assist productions who wish to film in the area.”

Film tourism is a product of content being viewed across the world. The Dig, about Sutton Hoo, and Magpie Murders, the TV series set in a quintessential Suffolk village, are examples of productions that have been filmed in the region - films shot in Suffolk, and about Suffolk.

Rachel Aldridge, Film Officer said: ‘The Dig, about the discovery of Sutton Hoo, hit the 2nd lockdown zeitgeist and became a massive hit globally, with Ralph Fiennes playing the role of archaeologist Basil Brown. The interest in the Sutton Hoo story on the screen turned into a massive increase in numbers of tourists visiting the site in the Summer of 2021.’

The largest scale shoot since Screen Suffolk launched is an Amazon production The Power, which is an adaptation of the 2016 science fiction novel by Naomi Alderman. The production featured a set which was built in a field on the coast in Bawdsey, as part of a shoot that lasted 6 months, with 300 crew working at the height of the project. As well as over 12,000 hotel nights booked by the production, countless local facilities were used, and local tradesmen and crew worked on both the build and shoot.

As well as managing filming on all council land and properties Screen Suffolk also looks after private locations and land. They have 600+ locations registered which include domestic houses, castles, former RAF bases, and they manage filming for organisations such as the Suffolk Wildlife Trust and the Churches Conservation Trust.

In addition to locations, Screen Suffolk also has a cast, crew and facilities database for productions to use.

Karen Everett, Managing Director of Screen Suffolk said: ‘Our crew database has over 600 people registered, and we encourage anyone with any industry experience to register, the only stipulation is that you must be able to work in Suffolk without charging for overnight accommodation. ;We are determined to grow the industry in Suffolk and not just for trained crew, but also for entry level roles such as marshals and runners.’

A recent survey undertaken by Screen Suffolk demonstrated that 73% of respondents felt that the industry has been growing over the last year and more had been able to work in the county.

Karen added: ‘There is always room for more facilities, crew, and locations so if you think you could help productions then make sure you sign up by visiting our website. There has been some very high-profile secret filming happening which will be revealed later this summer which is going to really put Suffolk in the spotlight on a global scale. Screen Suffolk are already working on productions for later in the year, and 2023 is looking set to be busier than ever.’