A ‘Reel’y Happy Birthday for Liverpool Film Office

Liverpool’s Film Office is celebrating its 25th birthday with a special showreel highlighting some of the 6,000 productions filmed in the city since it was formed.

Filming Good Cop on the rooftops with Liver Buildings in the background
BBC’s Good Cop filmed in Liverpool

The unique two minute film shows just how successful the team have been over the past quarter of a century, giving the viewer a whistle-stop, yet spine-tingling, highlight of the many productions filmed in the city.  There are glimpses of hugely successful films such as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, Sherlock Holmes, In the Name of the Father and 51st State and also a montage of programmes such as Peaky Blinders, Cilla and Utopia.

A longer version which will include testimonials is also going to be made and used to attract new productions to the city.

The showreel, produced by Liverpool based River Motion Group, can be viewed at http://www.liverpoolfilmoffice.tv/.

The role of the Film Office is to promote Liverpool to film and TV makers across the world, showcasing the city’s many enviable locations as the perfect place to shoot anything from Hollywood blockbusters and primetime drama series right through to adverts or music videos.

Their success means Liverpool is one of the most filmed cities outside of London – with a new report showing that the team have worked with 170 film and TV productions, resulting in 598 film days so far this year (January to October) and resulting in a £9 million impact into the local economy.

Assistant Mayor and Cabinet Member responsible for the Film Office, Councillor Wendy Simon, said: “This latest report is fantastic news and it’s important never to underestimate the value and impact the film industry has on the city.

“Since its inception 25 years ago, the reputation of Liverpool Film Office has grown and grown. The knowledge of the team and their can-do attitude appeals to producers and makes production companies return here time and time again.

“The showreel is just a snapshot of Liverpool’s role in the industry, but it’s amazing to see to see the calibre of work which has taken place here. It genuinely made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end and I’m sure it will engender pride in the city for everyone who sees it.”

Filming highlights of 2014 include:

Cilla – a three part period drama for ITV telling the story of Cilla Black’s rise to fame with acclaimed actress Sheridan Smith taking the lead. Shot entirely on location in Liverpool as 1960’s Liverpool, London and New York, it was one of the networks highest rated dramas in 2014 pulling in audiences of over 9 million each episode, receiving broad critical acclaim. Key Liverpool locations featured included Cunard Building, Everton Brow, OhMeOhMy, The Liverpool Athenaeum, (the interior of the Cavern Club and Abbey Road Studios were built in a warehouse in Boundary Street).

Peaky Blinders filmed in Liverpool
Peaky Blinders filmed in Liverpool

Peaky Blinders – the BBC’s epic British gangster drama series returned back to Liverpool to film major sequences for its second series, set in the lawless streets of 1920’s Birmingham. Starring Cillian Murphy, Sam Neill and Tom Hardy this action packed period drama chose to film key sequences again in Liverpool.

Filmed across the North West, Liverpool locations featured included Stanley Dock, The State Ballroom, Faulkner Square and the Canning Street area.

Our Zoo – Our Zoo’ a charming period 6-part drama series based on the true story of the founding of Chester Zoo in the 1930’s. Filmed across the North West including Liverpool’s St Georges Hall, St John’s Gardens and Cunard Building.

Foyle’s War – the ITV period detective drama shot three feature-length episodes entirely on location in Liverpool, doubling for post-war London, from January to April earlier this year. ITV’s Head of Drama, Jane Hudson said: “Anthony Horowitz has written three outstanding episodes and the audience are in for a real treat. This series gave us the chance to take the shoot to one of the jewels of the North West, Liverpool.” Transmission is planned for 2015.

Productions aired in 2014 which had been filmed in the city include Common, a hard-hitting BBC One Jimmy McGovern drama, Utopia which is Channel 4’s stylish but grisly cult-hit, feature film 71 and the Hollywood blockbuster Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit which saw Chris Pine, Kevin Costner, Keira Knightley and Kenneth Brannagh all on-set in Liverpool.

And still to come in the winter and in to the New Year are:

  • Evermore – Lime Pictures’ newest and most ambitious live-action series to date. It’s the first series of its kind produced in the UK to broadcast globally on Disney Channel US, showing in more than 160 countries from autumn 2014.
  • BBC4 comedy series Puppy Love set around a Wirral-based dog training class. It filmed extensively on location in Liverpool and the Wirral.
  • BBC2 new period drama by Victoria Wood Tubby and Enid starring Imelda Staunton and Michael Ball in a musical TV film of her stage play. Set in 1960s Manchester with flash backs to the 1930s, they filmed on location in  Liverpool Town Hall, Exchange Flags and St Mary’s Street in Woolton where residents got the chance to get involved as extras and thoroughly enjoyed the chance to meet cast and crew.
  • BBC1 new arts programme The Big Picture presented by Richard Bacon and Una Stubbs filming an episode at an iconic Liverpool land-mark location.
  • Channel 4’s award winning One Born Every Minute in its sixth series it is currently filming 20 episodes at the Liverpool Women’s Hospital until December 2014

Film Office Manager, Lynn Saunders, said: “This has been an incredibly busy year for us and we are delighted at the number of high-quality productions we have hosted which are a fantastic promotion for our world-class locations.

“Each year, the task of attracting the industry here gets more difficult as other cities are vying for a piece of this lucrative business, knowing that the economic benefit along with the other jobs and tourism related opportunities are invaluable.

“However, our film-friendly offer and expertise continues to attract filmmakers. We’ve seen a real trend of period pieces coming to the city – our stunning architecture lends itself well to many different eras which is a huge asset for us.

“But we don’t rest on our laurels and we’re already working on some big opportunities for next year, so we hope that 2015 will be another bumper year for the Film Office.”

Geoff White, Partner at River Motion Group, said:”I’ve had a close association with Liverpool Film Office since its inception and River is very proud to have produced this film which we feel blends the energy and spirit of Liverpool with its unique locations.  

“The co-operation of the producers, distributors and artists in releasing the rights for the material is an indication of the esteem generated for the City by its Film Office.”

Notes about the Film Office:

Summary of the projects filmed in 2014:

  • Four low budget feature films
  • Seven high-end TV productions which are scripted television projects with a minimum core expenditure of £1 million per broadcast hour
  • Four medium TV projects such as period dramas, dramas and feature-length productions
  • 108 light entertainment programmes
  • 13 commercials
  • 2 TV comedies
  • 2 music videos
  • 5 corporate videos
  • 20 projects not for broadcast

Collectively these productions spent £9,078,500 on location in the City during their filming in 2014. A new formula to calculate average local production spend was introduced in Liverpool this year, developed by Creative England in consultation with the UK’s film offices, that have been rigorously tested and fully endorsed by the Production Guild. This means that all the UK film offices are now calculating local spends using the same formula recognised and endorsed by the industry.