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Yorkshire’s filming backdrops not just stone walls and sheep – regional screen agency

Screen Yorkshire’s Richard Knight, speaking at Leeds Trinity University’s Journalism and Media Week

Yorkshire has become a hotspot for location scouts in the UK’s media industry after a huge effort to champion the region and dispel misconceptions that it only has rural backdrops to offer.

Screen Yorkshire’s Richard Knight spoke to students at Leeds Trinity University’s Journalism and Media Week event about the attributes Yorkshire has as a choice for filmmakers to use it as a home for their projects.

“Yorkshire is a really popular destination for filmmakers because of sheer diversity. It is still possible to find new locations that have never been filmed before, so it helps when you’re trying to create original content.”

Knight explained there were 13 TV shows with the word ‘Yorkshire’ in their titles last year since there was a “big, rising bubble of production” happening – and their legacies work to bring more tourists to the area.

He still thinks that the region’s landscape is incredibly underused and misconceived.

“In London, if I go to Soho and talk to producers down there, the conception of Yorkshire is stone walls and sheep. ‘Is that all you can do?’ No, we can do loads more.”

“If Screen Yorkshire didn’t exist, southern regions might not know what we’ve got to offer.”

Screen Yorkshire has been helping projects take place in the region for 20 years, and Knight compared the locations of media melting pots over the decades.

He said: “London still has a massive amount of filming but now it’s gone below 50 per cent. It was 75 per cent years ago.

“When you’re down in London, a lot of places have been filmed before which is why so many of the projects look the same. It is also significantly cheaper to film up here.”

Knight also said that it is easy to recreate central London in cities such as Hull, or replicate the streets of Newcastle in Bradford, for example when filming for The Duke, starring Helen Mirren.

He has also scouted for locations for Marvel , Indiana Jones and Mission Impossible in places such as Halifax and Calderdale.

“The first phone that rings when Netflix are wanting to do a new show is the one at our desk, so that gives us this incredible privilege. Anything dropping on Netflix, it drops globally. That, as a shop window showcasing Yorkshire, is massive.”

Knight said Yorkshire has a reputation for having some of the best crew in the UK, and it is important for them to be represented so the people of Yorkshire are appreciated as well as the landscapes.

“There’s a bit of a misconception that the crew are from LA, London. Some, yes. But they want to hire locally.

“Local crew now have got the Witcher and the Crown. When their next big show comes, you look at this crew member who lives in Bradford and their CV is like a Hollywood CV. That gives the next production confidence.”

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