Liverpool’s status as the “Hollywood of the North” has taken a step closer as its new film & high-end TV drama studios open for business on Monday (4 October).
The Depot comprises two purpose-built, 20,000 sq ft sound-proofed film & TV production units, giving Liverpool the complete package for film producers and providing a multi-million pound boost to its economy.
The opening comes as Liverpool, the second most filmed city in the UK, experiences its busiest period for film and TV production on record – despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
Favoured by filmmakers for doubling-up locations as New York and London, The Depot is seen as a key piece of the jigsaw in retaining productions within the region for longer.
The Depot’s two units, conveniently located just a 10-minute drive from the city centre and M62, draw on the best of Liverpool and North West England’s renowned filming infrastructure.
Liverpool Film Office (LFO), which is overseeing the management of the space, is keen to find productions that will employ local crew and work with local businesses on training initiatives. A key goal is to develop and strengthen the local talent pool and secure Liverpool’s long-term ambition to be a first-class creative and digital content production base
Situated adjacent to the future Littlewoods Studios site, The Depot is seen as critical to Liverpool’s strategy to cement its reputation as one of Europe’s premier film and TV production hubs, following a £17 million funding commitment from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority’s Strategic Investment Fund.
The city is currently hosting illustrious productions such as Sky’s Funny Girl starring Gemma Arterton and Channel 4’s The Curse from the team behind People Just Do Nothing, as well as recently investing and supporting Channel 4’s Help starring Jodie Comer and Stephen Graham, BBC’s The Responder starring Martin Freeman, ITV’s adaptation of The Ipcress File through its LCR Production Fund.
BBC’s sixth series of Peaky Blinders, Doctor Who, Ridley Road, Netflix’s Stay Close, Sky’s COBRA: Cyberwar and major blockbusters such as Warner Bros’ The Batman and Netflix’s Munich: The Edge of War also filmed in Liverpool.
Mayor of Liverpool Joanne Anderson, said: “Liverpool’s TV and film industry has been one of the city’s great success stories of the past 20 years, and thanks to these new studios the city’s offer can continue to flourish for the next 20 years.
“The Depot is a great example of how Liverpool is maximising its potential to fuel its recovery from the pandemic. Of course, we all love it when a blockbuster comes to town but what I really love is how our Film Office is going to be able use these facilities not just to attract more productions, for longer, but to develop more apprenticeships and job opportunities to further enhance the city’s skills base in the sector.
“And it’s that pool of talent who are making the magic happen off-screen, who are also turning Liverpool into the star of the industry.”
Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said: “Our ambitious plans are to help make our region the ‘Hollywood of the North’ and we have already invested £17m to develop film studios at Littlewoods, which will help us cater for productions from writing and filming, right the way through to editing and post-production.
“Our heritage, architecture, talent and people have always helped us to attract film and TV productions from across the globe. These new facilities will help us keep them here and offer the full package to productions, from providing stunning filming backdrops to the more technical editing and recording work.
“I’m sure that they will help us attract new jobs and productions from around the world to the area, as well as providing local people with world-class training and job opportunities.”
Lynn Saunders, Head of Liverpool Film Office, said: “We’ve been campaigning for studio space since before Samuel L Jackson was running round the city in a kilt!
“Over the years we have got very creative around providing alternatives to productions who need more than our region’s locations – but to now be able to actually show off two enormous purpose-built structures, that will be filled with crews and stars, filmmakers can really unleash all their creativity in Liverpool.
“For us it’s more than a space for sets, it’s an opportunity to build a production hub in the city region, where we can embed the local filming infrastructure network and develop training opportunities to future-proof Liverpool’s prime position in the industry.”
Award-winning writer Jimmy McGovern, whose latest project Time – a BBC TV drama part financed by the LCR Production Fund, said: “I love the fact that Liverpool has these new TV and film studios. Everyone knows how great the city is in hosting productions, but we can’t always complete a shoot here due to a limited studio capacity.
“These new studios will be a huge shot in the arm for the sector and especially for the hugely talented army of people who make the magic happen off-screen, as they will save a lot of time wasted having to travel to other studios elsewhere. It’s also great news for young kids in our city and region wanting to get into the industry and in particular it’ll be a brilliant boost for the Kensington community which desperately needs this type of investment and the fantastic job opportunities it presents.
“In an industry of lightning fast innovation and technological improvement, these new facilities are exactly what the city region needs to show the industry that as well as our iconic architectural backdrop, we have world class filming and production facilities. It’s a welcome piece of good news in what has been a challenging year.”