The north of England needs a more “fluid and flexible” production pool, according to a group of regional indies that have united to promote growing opportunities outside of London.
True North has led the initiative, with backing from Lime Pictures, Nine Lives and Daisybeck Studios, to dispel myths around working in the regions, encourage talented producers from the capital to move north, and make it easier for existing execs to work across more diverse projects.
The group, which also includes Shine North and Blakeway North, organised the Northern Exposure networking event at the Nellie Dean pub in London’s Soho last week to declare the north “open for business”.
Jess Fowle, co-founder and co-creative director of True North, called for producers, editors and development execs to swap London for the north to deal with a production boom that has resulted in the Leeds-based firm producing more than 150 hours across 11 series this year.
“Business is really booming. That’s why we need more people,” she said.
“We’ve got some of the best people in the country working for us and other indies in the north, but we’re all growing so fast and we’ve got such a range of shows going on that we need a much more fluid and flexible pool of people.”
Paul Stead, managing director of Daisybeck Studios, agreed that the increase in regional production, helped by broadcasters’ nations and regions commissioning quotas, means that firms such as The Yorkshire Vet indie quickly hoover up talented production staff.
“In order to keep the growth momentum, we need more people” he said. “If you’re talented and you’re based in the north, you will be busy.”
This pressure on the existing talent pool has often resulted in indies becoming “too protective” of production talent for fear of losing them to other projects.
“Each of the companies tends to grow its own people and hang on very tight to them, and you don’t have that kind of fluid movement that you get in London,” said Fowle. “If you’re with only one company, you don’t get the experiences you should.”
These execs should move around to experience the current affairs programming made by firms such as Nine Lives, branded content with companies such as Shine North and popular factual made by the likes of Daisybeck, Fowle said.
Interest in regional indies and the “distinctive” stories they tell is only set to increase in post-Brexit Britain, she added.
“We know that, particularly post-Brexit, broadcasters are crying out for stories and characters, contributors and access outside of the London goldfish bowl. They’ve got the whole of the country to serve, and different stories and experiences to reflect. It’s going to be better if they do that through indigenous production.”
There are opportunities across the board: Lime is looking for production co-ordinators, script editors and development talent, while Daisybeck is keen on senior producers and edit producers.
One of the biggest myths the group of indies is aiming to dispel is the “long-standing” belief that the most talented people work in the capital.
“There’s still an ongoing issue with some commissioning editors thinking that all the most ambitious people are in London. That’s often amplified by the fact that they don’t actually know the talent outside of London in the same way,” Fowle said.
“It’s really worth letting people know that there is another way to do it. That doesn’t mean that you’re in some sort of production back-water where nothing happens. You can have a really ambitious, exciting and creative TV career in the north of England.”
Claire Poyser, co-managing director of Lime Pictures, which recently became the first All3Media indie to win an original Netflix commission, said production talent should follow the work rather than worry about location.
“It’s not about north and south anymore,” she said. “It’s just about where the opportunities are. People look at this like it’s an issue and it’s really not. There’s a great career to be had. We are open for business.”T
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