Cameras rolling in Liverpool

NEW figures show that film and TV production in Liverpool has trebled this year.

The city council’s Film Office – part of North West Vision – organised 240 filming days between January and the end of March compared to 74 last year. The number of productions also trebled – up from 21 to 61 in the first quarter.

Council leader Warren Bradley said: “Liverpool has a fantastic reputation within the film industry for providing great locations and expert support for film makers.

“We are seeing unprecedented interest in using the city for making television series and feature films.

“It is a multi-million pound industry sustaining thousands of jobs and providing a vital boost to scores of local business and that is why we do all we can to assist production companies who want to film here.”

Productions filmed or lined up so far this year include:

* ‘Across the Universe’ – a feature film starring Bono and Joe Cocker. It is a romantic musical set in the 1960’s told through Beatles songs.

Made by Revolution Films – part of Columbia Pictures – it is the largest scale production ever shot in Liverpool with more than 150 extras

involved in some of the scenes which took place in the docks area, Wavertree and New Brighton.

* Sparkle – a feature film starring Bob Hoskins and Liverpool actor Shaun Evans. It is about an opportunistic young scouser who moves to London and decides to sleep his way to the top. It has been funded by the UK Film Council and North West Vision.

* “Lilies” – an eight-part BBC prime time drama series set in dockland Liverpool in the 1920’s, focusing on three girls who live with their father in a terraced house.

* Casualty 1906 – a drama being screened on BBC One in the autumn recreating an accident and emergency ward from a century ago being filmed in the former Liverpool Royal Infirmary building.

* Ruby in the Smoke – a one off period drama for the BBC starring Billie Piper and Julie Walters based upon Phillip Pullman’s novel.

* Longford – a drama for Channel Four based on the early political career Lord Langford which filmed at Old Bridewell, Walton Prison, St George’s Hall and Canning Street.

Other productions include TV series Grange Hill and Hollyoaks, a pop video for Liz McLarnon and an advertisement for Carlsberg.

Film Office manager Lynn Saunders added: “It has been an amazing start to 2006 for us and I am confident that this is likely to be our busiest year on record.

“We have a number of big productions still lined up to film here later this year and we have seen a jump of a third in the number of calls we are receiving from producers asking about filming in Liverpool.

“Together with our partners at North West Vision, we are also subsidising several productions which are filming locally and this is helping create and sustain jobs.”

It’s estimated that the Merseyside economy has benefited to the tune of more than £5 million so far, with another £5 million projects in pre-production up until the middle of summer.

In 2005, the Film Office helped attract 180 productions to Liverpool creating 632 film days and generating almost £14 million for the local economy.

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