Bristol wins City of Film at the Global Production Awards

Bristol wins City of Film at the Global Production Awards
The Outlaws, image credit Big Talk/BBC/Alistair Heap

Bristol has scooped the prestigious City of Film gong at this year’s Global Production Awards, held on 20 May at the Mademoiselle Gray d’Albion Plage, Cannes.

The city saw off fellow shortlisted nominees Limerick, Sofia, Tulsa and Zagreb to win the accolade. Bristol has a long-held reputation for being a film-friendly destination, with a dedicated film office and two major studios, The Bottle Yard Studios and TBY2. The latter recently won albert’s highest possible Studio Sustainability rating of ‘Outstanding’.

Bristol has historic wharfs and grand civic buildings that can easily double for other locales, as was the case with major Disney+ drama Black Cake, which ‘played’ London and Jamaica when it filmed in autumn 2022.

Black Cake doubling Bristol for 1970s London, image credit Bristol Film Office

Other recent productions to have filmed in and around Bristol include: Wolf Hall: The Mirror and the Light (Bottle Yard Studios); a new adaptation of Jilly Cooper’s Rivals for Disney+ (TBY2); The Crow Girl; Boarders; all three series of The Outlaws; Alex Rider 3 (TBY2) and Rain Dogs, which used The Bottle Yard Studios and filmed across multiple Bristol locations, sometimes doubling them for London.

The Bottle Yard Studios is currently hosting a hefty new iteration of The Forsyte Saga, from Mammoth Screen for PBS.

Rain Dogs filming in Bristol, image credit Sid Gentle Films/BBC

Laura Aviles, head of film, Bristol City Council, told us: “We are so delighted to receive this award. Bristol has long been a City that’s home to an exceptional film & TV production sector. With success stories in animation, unscripted and, of course, the world’s best natural history producers, it’s little wonder we were named a UNESCO City of Film in 2017. For the past decade and a half, the work of The Bottle Yard Studios, alongside Bristol Film Office which turned 20 last year, has elevated scripted High-End TV and film production to an entirely new level.

“Today we’re a leading regional hub for production, a tried and trusted filming destination for producers with an incredible local crew base. And with clear objectives set out in our City of Film Action Plan, Bristol is making sure that film and the business of filming remains at the heart of the city’s future growth, with a focus on local skills development and employment, sustainability initiatives and supporting storytelling from regional voices. Thank you to the judges for this fantastic recognition.”

The Outlaws creator, Stephen Merchant, said of filming in his home city: “I was born and raised in Bristol. The show is very much a love letter to Bristol. I love the fact we get to feature different pockets of the city, and in the instance of series three, we are in a city farm. I love showcasing the city. It’s very visual, it’s full of street art, and it’s very hilly which adds interesting depths to the show. Also, the people of Bristol are very welcoming to us. I like the idea of making it another character in the show. In this show it gets to play itself.”

Film and TV production at The Bottle Yard Studios and/or supported by Bristol Film Office was worth £20.1m to the local economy in 2022-23. This was the second consecutive year that this value exceeded £20m.

The ‘Go West! 2’ report from UWE Bristol’s Digital Cultures Research Centre showed that the turnover of Bristol’s wider screen industry increased by more than 100% between 2016 and 2021, from £147.7m to £288m. The number of independent production companies increased from 131 to 189, demonstrating the economic significance of the industry to the region. The city has the largest independent television production sector outside London.

Other UK winners at the Global Production Awards included albert (Special Recognition), A League Of Their Own (Sustainable Production Award, Unscripted), CAMA AssetCycle: Innovating Circularity CAMA AssetStore (Physical Production Innovation Award) and Oracle Red Bull Racing Campaign (Virtual Production Innovation Award).

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