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A Hollywood-sized Row

November 6th, 2009

There is a storm brewing in Iver Heath, a peaceful suburb on the borders of West London. Enough intrigue to create a film.

The proposals to expand Pinewood Studios onto a 100-acre site in the Green Belt in Iver Heath have understandably generated substantial local opposition. The Buckinghamshire studios – nearly 75 years old – have produced hundreds of films, most famously, the James Bond franchise. Hollywood routinely uses the studios and this year they have hosted the final two Harry Potter films, a new version of Gulliver’s Travels and many lavish productions. Compare the Market are even filming their new CGI meerkat advert here (sorry folks, he’s not a real meerkat!).

Pinewood World.

Pinewood World.

Project Pinewood, as it is known, will consist of a new working and living community for the creative industry. Permanent lots will replicate European and American locations, including a Parisian square, a Venetian canal and Amsterdam, San Francisco, Berlin, Chicago and Brooklyn vistas. With 1,400 homes on the set, the project has been called a vibrant live-work “creative hub”. The problem is that locals in the South Buckingham District don’t agree.

Dominic Grieve, MP, says, “The proposals are entirely contrary to the local plan for South Bucks district and the national policy for the Green Belt.” The Group Director of Corporate Affairs, Andrew Smith – who has the Bond theme as his mobile ring tone (The Guardian) – has responded that such expansion will create up to 630 full-time jobs, increasing to 960 by 2022. Up to 550 additional jobs could also be created during the construction period.

Project Pinewood.

Project Pinewood.

The expansion is set to include a new Screen Crafts Academy, offering training in the skills required by screen industries, such as carpentry, and wig and model making. The Academy will be run by the National Film and Television School, in conjunction with Skillset.

Locals are not happy at all, believing that the entire proposal is a scam to build houses on precious Green Belt land. Ultimately, the government could be called in and a decision will have to be made.

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Posted in: The Weekly Wizard

Training Future TV Leaders

October 7th, 2009

skillsetThe UK’s across-the-board training organisation for film and television, Skillset, has launched a major new training programme to create the future leaders in UK TV.

The catchy named, CCTV – Cultivating Creatives in TV, programme, will put 25 experienced TV creatives at producer level and above, through a 12 month training and development program to get them ready for the economic and technological aspects of the industry of the future.

Skillset’s  £200,000 programme will be run in association with industry bodies including PACT and will involve industry leaders in one-on-one mentoring, personal coaching, masterclasses, specific management and leadership training and networking opportunities.

The programme is primarily aimed at freelancers as part of the Television Freelance Fund and is now open for applications.

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Posted in: UK - TV news

Living On A Film Set

June 17th, 2009

In a development on our recent report on Pinewood Studio’s plans to build standing sets on it’s back-lot, it’s now been revealed behind the facades of Venice canals and a Parisean square among others,  will be actual houses and flats to be sold to the general public.

pinewood-lot1The £200m development, set to provide over 600 jobs and to create the Screen Crafts Academy in association with Skillset is expected to take 10 years to build.  Residents would have a series of restrictions in their agreements requiring them to close windows and move cars for the film makers, equally, film makers would have to agree to not use explosives at night.

Up to 15% of the total budget will be spent on the actual sets, the rest being used to build the homes behind them, which has attracted a cynical response from one producer who said, “It’s a housing development; they’re going to make a ton of money. It’s going to be of little benefit to the film industry”.  Pinewood says it’s more for low budget films that can’t afford to travel abroad for locations.

Interestingly, the location for Channel Four’s soap Brookside – Brookside Close, was built as fully functioning houses especially for the series and was used as accommodation for production staff.

The new residents of Paris UK, really will be able to go behind the scenes, but
let’s hope they have thick curtains, as lighting a street scene at night,  can get very bright!

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Posted in: UK - Film news

It’s Cheap!

June 10th, 2009

It’s not often you find something that’s great value for money, well here’s something that is.  Training courses for industry professionals can be subsidised by Skillset and any approved course will be considered.

red CameraOne that may be of particular interest to those exploring the Red Camera is being run over the next few months in Derby. It’s a three day course which covers the camera, a DI station, managing data, and editing on FCP.  So the entire process from end to end.

Check it out now to avoid disappointment, as subsidised places are limited.

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Posted in: UK - Film news

Back Lot

June 4th, 2009

munichjpgIn the good old days of UK movie making, studios would have parts of various towns permanently standing in their grounds, so passing productions could still breakfast in their canteen, while shooting in Dickensian London, or outside a western saloon.  Then producers discovered locations were cheap and more realistic – naturally.

But back-lots may be back.  Pinewood Studios are planning to build a number of permanent sets on their 100 acre lot,  including a square in Paris, the canals of Venice and the brownstones of New York.   They’re also taking advantage of the plan, to set-up a Screen Crafts Academy in association with the National Film School and Skillset to train crafts-people like carpenters and plasterers.

Anticipated to cost £200m, and to create over 600 jobs, the plan is now awaiting the green light from the local council which could take four months.  Quick though, by comparison to the 10 years it’s expected to complete the project.

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Posted in: UK - Film news

Picks and Shovels

March 18th, 2009

BE076805There always seems to be many, many training courses around for television and film roles. Skillset strive to make sure there are courses available to provide training to specific industry standards, including sound recording, Avid Editing, along with a huge list of camera courses and Skillset’s training subsidies become available from April. They also have a course accreditation scheme which requires a course to reach a certain standard of excellence to become accredited. Others include Raindance – more creative, directing, writing etc, and on Mandy, more choices again. But which ones are most beneficial and value for money?

In the days of the American gold rush it was said that the people who made the most money, were those who sold the picks and shovels. So which of the many courses on offer are worth your hard-earned cash? Let us know.

Let us know which courses you’ve done, and if you’d recommend them.

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Posted in: UK - TV news