Regional film production in the UK II

A few weeks ago I looked at the distribution of feature film production in the United Kingdom at the regional level, and I introduced the concept of regionally autonomous production – that is, a film which was produced in a single UK region only, irrespective of any production activity that may have taken place outside the UK (e.g. in the home country of a co-production partner). This is a negative way of defining the regional distribution of film production. A positive measure is to look at how different regions of the UK interact through their common productions.

Using the same sample of films from the UK film Council (n = 358), Table 1 presents the number of films, which being produced in one region, have connections to the other UK regions. For example, My Summer of Love (Pawel Pawlikovski, 2003) was filmed in the Government Office of Regions of Yorkshire and the Humber and the North West. This film connects these two regions in its production.

(I will not address connections between regions at the levels of distribution and exhibition, although, as I noted before, this is important given the London’s domination of these sectors of the UK film industry).

Table 1 Regional interaction in UK feature film production, 2003-2007

Regint

From Table 1 we can see that:

  • Scotland has a broad spread of common productions with other regions throughout the UK, although, as would be expected, the greatest number of links are to London (the commercial and artistic centre of the UK film industry) and the South East (the location of the major studios at Shepperton and Pinewood).
  • Northern Ireland has common productions only with London. As I noted before, Northern Ireland appears to be a distinct entity within the UK film industry, with links to the Republic of Ireland being of more importance. The links to London are inevitably the result of London’s position as the dominant force in the UK film industry and as a global city.
  • Wales has numerous common productions with the major production centres in England (East, South East, and London) and also the South West, but very few links to the rest of the UK. Proximity is not then an important issue in regional interaction: Wales has links to the neighbouring region of the South West, but not to the North West, for example.

The Celtic fringe of the UK (excluding Cornwall) does not show an overall pattern of linkages within the UK film industry, and each region interacts with the rest of the UK in a unique way.

Turning to the English regions, we find that:

  • The limited number of connections in the North East refelct the very low levels of film production in that region.
  • Yorkshiore and the Humber has a lot of features in common with other regions, refelcting its relatively low level of autnonomy (30%). Films produced in this region are rarely produced only in this region, but as such research on film production at the regional level in the UK is so slight that why this should be the case is not known. The high number of common features with the East Midlands is worth investigating further in particular.
  • The North West, by contrast, has a much higher level of autonomy (63.64%), and few common features with the rest of the UK than Yorkshire and the Humber. This may, in part, be due to Manchester’s status as an important production centre for television – the region has a (relatively) large number of firms in the audio-visual industries and so producers are able to access resources without having to leave the region (see Coe and Johns 2004 for a discussion of Manchester as production centre).
  • The two midlands regions are similar in their linkages: both are dominated by the main south east England production centre (E, SE, and LO), with only the East Midlands higher than expected links to YH and SW standing out from the pattern.
  • The South West also folllows this pattern: domination by the south eastern core, with relatively few links beyond.
  • East and South East England include the major British studios (Shepperton, Pinewood, Leavesden), and so the high level of common features with other regions tends to reflect the overall pattern of UK feature film production. The very high number of common features between SE and London is a good indicator that UK feature film production is very much concentrated in these areas: a large number of British films are produced in studios in the Sout East and film their exteriors/locations in London.

The position of London, of course, needs no comment – it dominates as one would expect the commercial and creative base of the industry to do.

References

Coe, N.M., and Johns, J. (2004) Beyond production clusters: towards a critical political economy of networks in the film and television industries, in Power, D. and Scott, A.J. (eds) The Cultural Industries and the Production of Culture. London: Routledge: 188-204.

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About Nick Redfern

I graduated from the University of Kent in 1998 with a degree in Film Studies and History, and was awarded an MA by the same institution in 2002. I received my Ph.D. from Manchester Metropolitan University in 2006 for a thesis title 'Regionalism and the Cinema in the United Kingdom, 1992 to 2002.' I have taught at Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Central Lancashire. My research interests include regional film cultures and industries in the United Kingdom; cognition and communication in the cinema; anxiety in contemporary Hollywood cinema; cinemetrics; and film style and film form. My work has been published in Entertext, the International Journal of Regional and Local Studies, the New Review of Film and Television Studies, Cyfrwng: Media Wales Journal, and the Journal of British Cinema and Television.

Posted on July 16, 2009, in British Cinema, Film Industry, Film Policy, Film Studies, Regionalism and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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