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Lights, camera, action! Mayor's bid to create Hollywood in the West Midlands

By Pete Madeley | Business | Published:

A new body to boost the West Midlands’ TV, film and games industries could bring nearly 30,000 new jobs to the region, it has been claimed.

Cillian Murphy on set at the Black Country Living Museum during filming for Peaky Blinders

Andy Street has launched the group, which comes after last year's failed bid to bring Channel 4 to the region.

The region already has a proud tradition of filmmaking – iconic director Stephen Spielberg brought crews to film in Birmingham for his movie Ready Player One in 2016 and biopic Stan and Ollie was filmed at the Black Country Museum.

Numerous television shows have also used the region as a backdrop, most famously in recent times Peaky Blinders.

The new industry-led body will be fronted by chairman Ed Shedd, a top brass at Deloitte and an industry leader. It will comprise of a board featuring top talent from across the region’s screen businesses.

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The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) says it hopes the body will serve as a single point of contact for national and international film, TV and game makers.

Mr Street said: “The West Midlands has a strong screen industry with a string of success stories – not least Leamington Spa’s gaming cluster which employs 10 per cent of the UK gaming industry.

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“However we have learnt from the region’s Channel 4 bid and from engaging with industry leaders that there is a lot more that can be done to support the screen sector so the West Midlands can truly be recognised as a world class centre for creative content.

“We plan to see 29,000 new, high skilled jobs in the digital and creative industries by 2030, but we will not be able to achieve this without having an industry body in place to help the region capitalise on the fast-growing creative sector.

“For the screen sector to realise its full potential, the brightest and best entrepreneurs from the industry need to have the structure and mandate to drive forward that growth. This new body will provide just that.”

Andy Street wants to bring Hollywood to the West Midlands

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Birmingham-born Mr Shedd said: "The screen industries are undergoing fundamental transformation, driven by the advent of near ubiquitous, high speed connectivity in both fixed and mobile forms, the West Midlands is perfectly positioned to respond to and benefit from that transformation.

“The traditional media structure and locations that have dominated UK and global media are changing.

"Creatives no longer need to be wholly present in London, New York and LA. I look forward to working with industry, WMCA and partners to establish this powerful industry structure to help the region capitalise on this opportunity.”

The body, which launches in autumn, aims to bring the sector together, focusing on securing more funds, commissioning new programmes of activity and lobbying to promote the region's screen industry.

It has been welcomed by Wolverhampton Council leader Ian Brookfield, the WMCA’s portfolio lead for economy and innovation, who said: “It is important that this body serves to support the whole of the region, in all its diversity and difference.

Glenn Close, pictured left, with the cast of The Girl with All the Gifts, filmed in Dudley and Cannock Chase

"I want to ensure that creative talent and businesses from the Black Country to Birmingham, from Coventry to Leamington Spa all have the opportunity to benefit from this new opportunity.

“So, I am making a commitment today as creative industries lead to work with my colleagues at the WMCA and the various the city councils and LEPs to support this new exciting phase for the West Midlands screen sector.”

Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight has also previously revealed £100m plans to create a 40-acre film and TV studio in the West Midlands.The Bafta award-winning series has been filmed on location in the West Midlands including at the Black Country Living Museum.

Spielberg brought crews to film in Birmingham in 2016 and actress Glenn Close starred in The Girl with All the Gifts filmed in Dudley's former Guest Hospital and on Cannock Chase in 2015.

Pete Madeley

By Pete Madeley
@P_Madeley_Star

Political Editor for the Express & Star. Responsible for local and national political stories, opinion, comment and analysis.

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