Bristol production bounces back after ‘expected' dip

Stephen Merchant’s drama The Outlaws, starring Christopher Walken, contributed to the recovery

By Nia Daniels 25 Oct 2021

Bristol production bounces back after ‘expected' dip
Manhunt The Night Stalker via ITV

New figures released by Bristol Film Office show that the city region generated £12.6m by filming in 2020-2021, with production levels bouncing back after the Covid-driven hiatus. A total of 653 filming days was recorded at Bristol locations and/or at The Bottle Yard Studios in 2020-21.
The dip in value of inward investment – the previous financial year had recorded £17m – was “fully expected”, according to Bristol senior film manager Laura Aviles. She said: “We fully expected to see a dip in Bristol TV and film production spend due to the pandemic forcing a pause in production between March and the end of June last year. What is heartening to see, is that once production resumed, Bristol went on to register similar quarterly levels of spend to previous years for the remainder of the financial year. 
“This is clear evidence that the film and TV production bounced back incredibly quickly in Bristol, despite crew, companies and facilities having endured an incredibly uncertain and challenging period. The levels of production we’ve seen so far in the current financial year are exceptionally strong, and we forecast a healthy spend for 2021/22 that we hope will match, or even exceed pre-pandemic levels.”  
Productions like Stephen Merchant’s The Outlaws, (pictured on header of article) starring Christopher Walken, contributed to the strong recovery, as it shot two series back-to-back entirely in Bristol locations and at The Bottle Yard Studios for more than a year.  

The first production to commence filming on location in Bristol in summer 2020, following the government’s greenlight and implementation of safety guidelines for filming by leading industry bodies, was season two of War of the Worlds (Disney+) starring Gabriel Byrne and Daisy Edgar Jones. 

Period drama The Pursuit of Love (BBC One) starring Emily Mortimer and Lily James, series two of Andy’s Aquatic Adventures (CBeebies) and popular gameshow Tipping Point (ITV) were among the first titles to kick back into action at The Bottle Yard Studios. 
The remainder of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021 saw a rapidly increasing flow of titles commence filming: as well as The Outlaws, the city hosted production on sci-fi thriller The Last Bus (Netflix) and upcoming period drama Becoming Elizabeth (STARZ), all of which filmed at the Bottle Yard Studios and on location across Bristol with support from the city’s film office.
Other titles filmed on location in the city throughout the year included true crime series Manhunt The Night Stalker (ITV, pictured) starring Martin Clunes; crime thriller Before We Die (Channel 4) starring Lesley Sharp, season two of contemporary detective drama McDonald & Dodds (ITV) starring Jason Watkins and Tala Gouveia; the upcoming second series of teen spy thriller Alex Rider (Amazon Prime) starring Otto Farrant and Vicky McClure, upcoming action thriller Extinction (Sky) starring Paapa Essiedu and the upcoming third season of fantasy series A Discovery of Witches (Sky) starring Matthew Goode and Teresa Palmer.  

Councillor Craig Cheney, deputy mayor and cabinet member for finance, governance and performance, said: “Film and TV production truly felt the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, with its impacts reaching into the wider creative sector and the industry’s supply chains. These figures show that the industry is making a strong return with Bristol continuing to play a major role internationally in filming and production. 

“We are committed to supporting the industry through Bristol Film Office and The Bottle Yard Studios and are encouraging those who work in the sector to use our local businesses and talent pool to ensure it remains sustainable as it works towards a brighter future."

The Outlaws image via Amazon Studios/Big Talk/Four Eyes. 
Manhunt The Night Stalker image via ITV. 


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