£5.76 million film studio complex for Cornwall

A £5.76 million project to build the first film studio complex in the South West got underway today (July 19), promising state-of-the-art production facilities for the film and television industry.

The project, at St Agnes in Cornwall, is believed to be the first purpose-built film studio constructed in the UK since 1923 and is expected to generate more than £10 million a year for the local economy.

The South West is the most commonly used location for filmmaking in the UK, and Cornwall is the most popular area in the South West, but until now has never had studio facilities of its own. Major feature films recently shot in Cornwall include the next James Bond film, Die Another Day, which used the Eden Project and the North Cornwall coast, and Johnny English, a £30 million production in which Rowan Atkinson reprises his Barclaycard role as an incompetent diplomat who is mistaken for England’s greatest spy. The film, due for release next year, used St Michael’s Mount as a location.

The new studio complex has come about thanks to a multi-million investment by South West Film Studios (UK) Ltd, a company set up by London-based film producer Alex Swan and Objective One funding.

The new facilities will enable Cornwall’s talented but disparate film industry companies to come together under one roof and offer visiting productions a complete package of services. The nature of the film industry means that production companies, which are predominantly based in and around London, spend as little time as possible on location to minimise costs. Their pre-production, production and post-production activities tend to be done elsewhere, which means much of the economic benefit is lost to the South West.
By offering everything they need under one roof in Cornwall, the St Agnes studio will retain a lot of that spend – estimated at 75% - in the local economy. It will also provide filmmakers with more flexibility by offering two covered sound stages for indoor work, so productions needn’t grind to a halt when the weather is unsuitable.

Mr Swan said: “Our research shows that there is a clear need for quality studio facilities in the South West, and regional studios are being strongly promoted by the British Film Commission.

“Cornwall, with its costal scenery, gardens, villages and country houses, as well as it’s unique light, is a filmmaker’s paradise, which is why in any one year you can expect to see 12 feature films using it for location work, not to mention all the commercials and television activity that goes on.

“What we’re offering is a home from home for the production companies, but at considerably less cost.”

Film industry-related companies in Cornwall have already expressed an interest in working from the new St Agnes studio, and the intention is to create a cluster of expertise that offers core services like catering, lighting and cameras full-time. Production companies would then book space to use the studio and its support facilities as a base during the period of production.

Mr Swan said just two or three feature films would keep the studios at capacity throughout the year, supporting anything between 50 and 200 jobs depending on demand, while the complex itself would have 10 full-time staff, not including staff employed by companies that chose to relocate there.

The hope in the future is to build links with Falmouth College of Arts and the new Combined Universities in Cornwall to retain filmmaking skills in Cornwall by creating more opportunities for graduates.

Matthew Taylor, Liberal Democrat MP for Truro and St Austell, who launched the project today with an official groundbreaking ceremony, said: “Cornwall already has an enviable reputation as a location for film production, and today’s announcement can only reinforce that reputation while retaining a much higher percentage of film budgets within the county.

“I have been helping this project secure its funding over several months, and so I am particularly glad to help launch it today.”

The £5.768 million project has been supported with a £2 million grant from the European Regional Development Fund under Cornwall’s Objective One funding programme. The remainder of the funding has come from the private sector.

Objective One programme director Bill Bawden said: “This project has real potential to position Cornwall as a centre for filmmaking excellence, and will reinforce the opportunities being presented by another Objective One project, the Cornwall Film Fund, which is supporting film production in the county. This is all part and parcel of growing the arts sector in Cornwall.”

Sue Craig, Film Liaison Manager at South West Screen, the newly formed regional body for the funding and development of film, video and the moving image in the South West, said: “South West Screen welcomes this exciting initiative to build a film studio complex in Cornwall. We believe it will be a valuable addition to the infrastructure of support for film and television productions coming to the region and wish South West Film Studios every success.”

Steve Norris, head of the British Film Commission, said: “As part of the Film Council, the BFC and the Regional Screen agencies aim to ensure that any film that can be made in the UK is made in the UK, and that the necessary infrastructure is in place to support it. The fantastic development of this new studio in the South West of England brings us one step closer to making this aim a reality.”

Work on the new film studio complex begins today and is expected to last 14 months. The studios are being constructed on the site of the former St Agnes leisure park and model village.

For further information contact:

Veronica Newman
South West Film Studios (UK)Ltd.
Tel: 01872 554131


Editors notes:

Photograph’s from today’s groundbreaking ceremony are available direct from Apex Photo Agency (tel. 01392 824024).

Architects Impression
An Architects impression of South West Film Studios has been provided by Cornwall Architectural Design (detailed planning application will be made shortly).

Feature film activity in Cornwall
Please find attached a list of feature films and television dramas filmed in Cornwall in recent years. The list was compiled by what was formerly known as the South West Film Commission and is now part of Screen South West.

Objective One
The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly provides £314 million of European funding for projects that help boost the prosperity of the county. The money must be match-funded and the whole programme, which runs from 2000 to 2006, is estimated to be worth £800 million in total. For more information visit www.objectiveone.com

Cornwall Film Fund
The Cornwall Film Fund, part financed through the Objective One programme, provides film makers with loans for production of short films and development of major film and television projects, subject to Cornish participation (and/or content and match funding). Writers in Cornwall can also benefit from cash grants for writing new scripts. For more information contact Cornwall Film Fund director Colin Rogers at director@cornwallfilm.com; call 01872 322886 or visit www.cornwallfilm.com.


Jason Clark
Communications Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Tel:01872 241379
Fax:01872 241388