“Hollywood of the North” prepares to open for business

Stephen Chapman's picture
by Stephen Chapman

Liverpool is set to open its 20,000sq ft purpose-built film studios later this month as it aims to become the “Hollywood of the North.”

The Depot are 2 sound-proofed film and television units, intended to offer film producers “the complete package” and bring £24m to the local economy. They are expected to create 360 new jobs and a further 760 indirect jobs.

“We’ve been campaigning for studio space since before Samuel L Jackson was running round the city in a kilt!” said Lynn Saunders, Head of Liverpool Film Office.

“Over those years we’ve gotten very creative around providing alternatives to productions who need more than our region’s locations – but to now be able to actually show off two enormous purpose-built structures, that will be filled with crews and stars, filmmakers can really unleash all their creativity in Liverpool.

“For us it’s more than a space for sets, it’s an opportunity to build a production hub in the city region, where we can embed the local filming infrastructure network and develop training opportunities to future-proof Liverpool’s prime position in the industry.”

Liverpool is the second most filmed city in the country and is currently experiencing its busiest period on record. While it is currently favoured for doubling as locations for New York and London, The Depot is seen as critical for retaining productions within the region for longer and bringing more money to the local economy.

“I love the fact that Liverpool has these new TV and film studios. Everyone knows how great the city is in hosting productions, but we can’t always complete a shoot here due to a limited studio capacity,” added writer Jimmy McGovern.

“These new studios will be a huge shot in the arm for the sector and especially for the hugely talented army of people who make the magic happen off screen, as they will save a lot of time wasted having to travel to other studios elsewhere.

“It’s also great news for young kids in our city and region wanting to get into the industry and in particular it’ll be a brilliant boost for the Kensington community which desperately needs this type of investment and the fantastic job opportunities it presents.

“In an industry of lightning fast innovation and technological improvement, these new facilities are exactly what the city region needs to show the industry that as well as our iconic architectural back drop, we have world class filming and production facilities. It’s a welcome piece of good news in what has been a challenging year.”

Liverpool Film Office, which is overseeing the management of the space, is seeking to encourage productions to employ local crew and work with businesses to form training initiatives.

The studios have been built next to the Littlewoods Studios site and are part of the £17m funding commitment from Liverpool City Region Combined Authority’s Strategic Investment Fund, which was announced last year.

It comes as further an extra £1m has been provided to the Liverpool Film Office’s LCR Fund, to attract more high-end television and film.

Liverpool City Council forecasts show that the fund generated £12m of spending in the city region and led to 455 full time jobs. It also created 29 training places.

The fund invested in series including BBC’s The Responder and Channel 4's Help, starring Jodie Comer and Stephen Graham.

“This investment is testament to the exceptional work of Liverpool Film Office which is responsible for revolutionising the number of high-quality productions filmed in the city region,” stated Mayor of Liverpool, Joanne Anderson.

“The brainchild of Liverpool Film Office, this initiative wouldn’t have been feasible without vital funding from the Combined Authority, and it’s rewarding to work in partnership on a project which is making a tangible difference to the sector.

“From the outset, demand was high and the team were in the amazing position of being able to invest in productions which have created jobs and developed skills.  

“This latest financial boost will enable us to attract more small and large projects and continue to shine a spotlight on the city region and the creativity and talent which thrive here.”

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