Lights, camera, action for Alternative Venues!
Alternative Venues North West have shifted to a more corporate way of working over the last 12 months, developing strategic partnerships and client accounts to maximise their offering.
One of the key partnerships which has been developed is with the Liverpool Film Office which has maximised venue bookings for filming activity. Liverpool has experienced an unprecedented increase in the volume of film and TV projects in the last year proving lucrative to the local economy as well as for Alternative Venues. With 49 venues for hire on the MOD’s reserve and cadet estate, raising the profile of the sites as filming locations is key.
Vicky Doran, Head of Commercial Operations for the NW RFCA stated:
The relationship with the Film office is working really well. They are paid a commission for any business they push our way and their staff are available to provide support with recces in the Liverpool City Region too, which can really help with staffing resources. Tapping into their contacts is helping us get the word out that we are open to filming across the estate. Filming can be a little disruptive to sites but this is outweighed by the relatively large income for the use. In the past few years productions such as Peaky Blinders, Coronation Street, Little Boy Blue and Hollyoaks have used our sites.
January was certainly been a busy period for filming within the Merseyside and Cheshire regions, production crew for Peaky Blinders swooped on Stockport town centre for the filming of series five and the crew used Stockport Army Reserve Centre as a dressing room and holding area for the 150 supporting artists.
Huyton Army Centre, has been the hive of filming activity with LA productions filming for a new prison drama. The centre was used for two months during January and February, we spoke to Captain Bob Dobson who is the Permanent Staff Administration Officer to gain a further insight into the filming activity there:
How did you minimise filming impact on the reservists/users of the centre? By close consultation with the Film Crew. We discussed when the Reservists would be in, in our case Tuesday nights and weekends. The major disruption is during the working day as “life goes on”! We try as much as possible to work around the filming, this crew however had taken over a large proportion of the ARC and had permanent sets built. I ensured that Dan, the Unit Manager saw me each morning with the call sheet explaining what was to be filmed that day. I also had one of the crew radios so I can monitor what is happening, that way I could mitigate any potential problems quickly.
What has been the biggest challenge of the filming? The sheer amount of people in the ARC. On any given day we have over 80 crew, actors and extras plus all of their vehicles. All of that needs monitoring for security of the site and cleanliness. On the whole though it has gone really well.
The benefits of having the filming onsite? We have finished with freshly painted rooms at the end of the filming project and this was at the expense of the production company! Clearly there is an opportunity for us to see how filming takes place which is interesting on its own. The biggest draw for us is the financial benefits which make it all worthwhile, as it gives us the ability to spend money on the “nice things”. If an Army Reserve Centre has the opportunity to host a film crew, I would say to embrace it.
The positive sentiments from Bob mirrored that of Daniel Wellstead (Filming Production Unit Manager). Dan stated, that the centre catered really well for the needs of the filming crew, helped by the cooperation of the staff in facilitating the often challenging nature of filming.
Looking forward, following the successful partnership with Liverpool Film Office, Alternative Venues have set up a similar collaboration with Screen Manchester (Manchester Film office) and Creative England. The Creative England partnership is already bringing through some major productions, watch this space and the screen for further updates.
If you would like to learn more about Alternative Venues North West, please visit: alternativevenuesnorthwest.com or call 0800 193 0 194