Regional Success: Why Small UK Hubs Aren’t Afraid of Big Productions

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Natalie Nelson
Natalie Nelson Administrator Posts: 69

It’s no secret that the UK is home to a number of major production centers, with London, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all home to world-class productions.

But with stunning natural scenery, historic architecture and film-friendly local incentive schemes, smaller regions of the UK are starting to give the main players a run for their money.

Here's our round-up of the regional production hubs supporting feature film and HETV production in the UK.

South West

Just under two hours from London, the South West is serviced by an established TV crew base, making it very attractive to producers. The region’s main production hub is Bristol, a designated UNESCO City of Film and home to the largest studio in the West of England: The Bottle Yard Studios. These 11 stages are available for hire; eight at the main site and three at TBY2, Bottle Yard's premium facility, which opened in 2022, offers fully sound-proofed shooting space.

Productions can also utilize Patchway Studios in north Bristol, which provides easy access to great locations in the South West and Wales.

The South West is world famous for its coastline, home to beaches like Kynance Cove, Porthcumo and Hollywell Bay, as well as period properties like St Michael’s Mount, most famous for representing Blackwater Bay in Game of Thrones (HBO).

St Michael’s Mount, Cornwall

Yorkshire and Humber

Yorkshire and Humber is a region situated in the heart of the UK. As well as excellent transport links, it’s renowned for its rugged landscape and wealth of period properties.

Studio facilities in the region include:

  • Church Fenton Studios – 100,000 square feet of internal production space and 440 acres of backlot, recently home to Victoria (Mammoth Screen/ITV) and Gentleman Jack (Lookout Point/BBC/HBO).
  • Leeds Versa Studios – 60,000 square feet of stage space, 20,000 square feet of production offices and over 130,000 square feet of production facilities, including prop stores, workshops and costumes.
  • Peregrine Studio – Currently the largest single stage space in the North of England, with over 140,000 square feet of external space for set building and external scenes. Among Peregrine’s credits is the feel-good musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (Warp Films/New Regency/Amazon Studios).

North West

The film-friendly production hubs of Manchester and Liverpool can both be found in the North West, serviced by a wealth of talented high-end TV drama crew and ever-developing facility houses and studios. This region spans everything from urban grit to rolling countryside.

The architecture in the cities has doubled for London, New York and Europe. On top of that, the Lake District provides breathtaking scenery, while the “alien” landscapes of Alderley Edge in Cheshire and Cathedral Cave in Cumbria also appeal to producers.

The region is also renowned for its period houses, including Lyme Park, the iconic Elizabethan stately home which stood in for Pemberley in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.

But it’s not all history; Dock10 in Salford’s Media City is the region's state-of-the-art TV facility, with 10 stages totaling 43,395 square feet.

Lyme Park, Stockport 

East

The East of England has it all – from sandy beaches which stretch for miles to wetlands, marshes and historic castles. This is perhaps why it’s home to the booming production hub of Hertfordshire.

Elstree Studios (The Crown, Netflix) boasts nine stages, 90,000 square feet of filming space, 40 production village companies, 95 years of film-making experience and more than 1,000 film and TV credits.

Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden (Barbie, (Warner Bros), Fast X (Universal Pictures), House of the Dragon (HBO) and The Batman (Warner Bros)) is a purpose-built, state-of-the-art film and TV studio offering one of the largest facilities in the UK. It has 250,000 square feet of stage space on its 200-acre site, a backlot tank, one of the largest heated underwater filming tanks in Europe and an unrivaled, clear horizon, 100-acre backlot. The studio also has a collection of some of the largest sound stages in the UK, ranging from 10,800 to 45,600 square feet.

Away from the studios, the windmills and waterways of Suffolk and Norfolk offer incredible cinematic backdrops, and magical woodlands like the Ashridge Estate or Thetford Forest lend themselves to a producer’s creativity. The county of Suffolk alone has 13 stunning castles, while the neighboring county of Norfolk has 12.

Support for UK productions

 From its beautiful, diverse geography and varied architecture to its world-class infrastructure and crew, the UK has much to offer overseas production teams. From stately homes to rugged coastlines, this small island can support every production, with generous regional incentives and dedicated industry bodies on hand to sweeten the pot.

Regional productions can also access support from dedicated industry bodies like Screen Manchester, the Bristol Film OfficeScreen YorkshireCreative England and many others. These organizations are on hand to help at every stage of production from early feasibility to post. They can also help productions access additional funding like the Liverpool City Region Production Fund, the Yorkshire Content FundWest Midlands Production Fund and others across the UK.

And if you decide to head to the UK for your next project, EP is here to help too. From UK payroll to production incentives and the industry's leading production technology, we have everything you need from prep to wrap. Reach out to us today to get started!

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