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26 Oct 2017

We catch up with David Wilson, Director of Bradford UNESCO City of Film, to find out why the region is such a popular location for filming. 

  • What’s your role what projects are you working on at the moment?

I am Director of Bradford UNESCO City of Film. Bradford was awarded UNESCO status as the world’s first UNESCO City of Film in 2009 and has since been joined by a cluster of film cities from around the world including Sydney, Rome and Busan in South Korea to name a few. My role is to encourage international dialogue and collaboration around film and TV and to promote Bradford as a brilliant place to make film and TV. As part of my role I manage the work of the Bradford Film Office which has never been busier. We support a wide range of film and TV production ranging from locations advice to back office support. We were really pleased to see three films we have supported recently in the London Film Festival this month. They included Dark River by Clio Barnard, Ghost Stories with Martin Freeman and Funny Cow starring Maxine Peake.

We also supported a number of top TV dramas recently including Gunpowder starring Kit Harrington and the new season of Peaky Blinders. Both film extensively in Bradford.

  • What might people not realise about the screen industries in Bradford/Leeds City Region?

The film heritage of the region goes back to the dawn of cinema and there have been hundreds of classic films made here including: Room at the Top, Billy Liar, The Railway Children, The King’s Speech, the list goes on. More recently, contemporary films such as the Selfish Giant, God’s Own Country and Limehouse Golem, all filmed in and around West Yorkshire and all with the support from the Bradford Film Office. If you then add in all of the TV drama and then the factual and daytime TV you can certainly see why the region is one of the top production places in the UK.

We have also seen a steady growth in international enquires from US and India and other parts of the world. As viewing habits continue to develop such as video on demand as does the demand for new content, we are actively working together in the Leeds City Region to ensure that we have the right skills to respond to and support this growth in demand.

  • What advantages are there for TV and film makers to produce in the region?

The locations are certainly a great attraction, the heritage buildings in Bradford and York and our proximity to the Yorkshire Dales is a definite advantage. We are also a very competitive region when it comes to hotel accommodation and other supply services to productions, catering, logistics etc. There’s a lot of expertise here and that is also growing as the screen sector continues to thrive. There’s also a very genuine and warm ‘can do’ approach to things. We spent a good number of years working with a wide range of partners from highways to countryside and rights of way, to private businesses to encourage a film friendly approach to location requests. I’m convinced that this is behind the recent increase in production requests and repeat visits from production companies.

  • How can people interested in this industry get involved and gain new skills?

There are a wide range of courses available across the region with a screen industry focus. The University of Bradford has courses in TV production, filmmaking, animation etc and was the first University in the UK to offer a Degree Apprenticeship in outside broadcasting. Add this to the long list of degree level and other courses available at Bradford College and numerous film and TV related events and festivals organised by Bradford City of Film and you can see why we truly live up to the title. We work very closely with a wide range of partners including the British Film Institute, Screen Yorkshire and Creative England and there are more opportunities than ever before to get involved in this fast growing sector.

  • What do you think about the Channel 4 relocation outside London and why would Leeds City Region be such a compelling choice?

Across the board the screen industries have been calling for more diversity and they need to diversify to survive and prosper in a very competitive market place. The Leeds City Region offers diversity of people as well as a very diverse landscape in which to make content. We have a young fast growing, diverse population here, and we’re right in the centre of the UK. Add that to the vast experience and rich screen heritage and it makes such a compelling case for Channel 4 to want to be here. We have been fortunate to support some great product from Channel 4 in recent years from the brilliant feature film, The Selfish Giant to BAFTA winning TV drama, National Treasure and a wide range of other content. Productions enjoy working here. It’s a great place to work and with the help of Channel 4 together with the Leeds City Region I’m convinced that we can continue to develop screen industries in the UK and ensure that they continue to be world leaders.

More information on Bradford UNESCO City of Film can be found at www.bradfordcityoffilm.com

Find out more about the #4sparks campaign to bring Channel 4 to Leeds City Region here.