Industry to give Filmmakers outside of London more opportunities
“The British film industry is so centered on London that people don’t necessarily have a good sense of what’s happening outside London.” Those were the wise words of Creative England Senior Film Executive, Paul Ashton. Ashton wades into the murky waters of the UK Art scene, often critiqued for being too London centric (and there is truth to that). But now, under the direction of former Writersroom Development Producer, Ashton, Creative England has announced plans to offer support to writers from outside London. The announcement, though brief, does demonstrate both an awareness that the industry is increasingly centered around the capital, and that there is some need for diversity in the British film industry and British storytelling.
According to Ashton “the idea behind the scheme is to link up with theatres that have a long history and deep roots in those regions, and to work with them at the point they’re finding these people, rather than waiting for people to eventually tumble into the London scene.”
The British film industry has grown over the past few years, with British funded and British made movies like Slumdog Millionaire and Gravity exploding at the Academy Awards. London is at the heart of the film – one only has to traipse through Soho to find the center of the ‘post’ and a handful of headquarters belonging to some of the Western world’s largest production studios – but now there has to be more opportunity for creatives outside of London.
Northern Western Catch Me Daddy featured the electric debut of Sameena Jabeen Ahmed and waded boldly into the swept-under-the-carpet problem of honor killings. Clio Barnard received critical acclaim for her Northern working class drama, The Selfish Giant, inspired by the short story from Oscar Wilde. Both films have the “strong regional identity” that Creative England and Ashton are seeking.
Ashton uses Billy Elliot and The Full Monty as examples of “successful British films that have had as strong regional identity”, but I would also point to East is East another successful British film that had both strong regional and cultural identity.
The British Isles is rich with stories and storytellers from diverse regional and cultural identities it is about time that the film industry steps outside of its London based comfort zone to explore them.
– Hannah Campbell