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Steven Spielberg and 9 other reasons Birmingham is the secret weapon of the British Film Industry

Birmingham is the leading UK film location outside London. Andy Parker, from the Custard Factory in the city's Creative Quarter explains why

Steven Spielberg (left) and executive producer Adam Somner (right) on the set of Ready Player One in the Jewellery Quarter(Image: Joe Giddens/PA Wire)

The British Film Institute (BFI) recently announced their five year plan (#BFI2022) at Fazeley Studios in Digbeth.

This high profile event arrived hot on the heels of director Steven Spielberg filming scenes for his upcoming Ready Player One blockbuster on Floodgate Street – just 200 yards away from where the BFI event took place.

But why is all this activity so exciting?

Filming for Steven Spielberg film Ready Player One in and around Digbeth

Well, aside from the showbiz glamour, Film Birmingham has estimated that the economic benefit to Brum from being chosen as a set location reached nearly £8.5m in 2015/16 – a great result for the city.

And here are nine more reasons why Birmingham is the key for the progression of British film. Lights…Camera…ACTION!

Andy Parker

£24 million funding

Birmingham’s Into Film (based at Fazeley Studios) – whose film club is run in 10,000 schools across the UK – has received £24m in funding from the BFI to support the educational and cultural value of film.

BFI FAN hub coming

The BFI will be working with Flatpack – the acclaimed one-of-a-kind film festival organisers based at the Custard Factory – to develop a major new BFI Film Audience Network (FAN) hub in Birmingham to get people watching more British and independent film. Exciting!

Custard Factory Green Man, by Suzanne Lea Smith

Location, location, location!

As well as being a truly cost-effective alternative to the capital, Birmingham is also perfectly situated at the heart of the country’s transport network.

Whether it be as a filming location, production offices, or a base for suppliers, we’re ideally positioned in the centre of the UK – blessed with motorways, rail stations and airports – and it’s only 80 minutes away from London.

The Space

Birmingham-based a partnership between Arts Council England and the BBC, is a hugely influential organisation (located at Fazeley Studios) that is actively supporting the use of digital media and technology within the arts.

The Space commissioned the superb BAFTA Guru website, featuring excellent tips and advice for all aspects of film and filmmaking check it out here

Independent cinemas

Mockingbird Cinema and Bar in Custard Factory, Digbeth

Birmingham has three of the finest independent cinemas in the UK in Birmingham – The Mockingbird Cinema and Kitchen (based at the Custard Factory), The Electric (Station Street) and mac Birmingham – which regularly host Birmingham-focused film festivals/events.

The Everyman Cinema (the Mailbox) also regularly screen British Independent Film Awards-approved movies as a part of BIFA Independents.

Think Jam

Think Jam is an entertainment marketing agency with offices in London, LA, New York – and of course Digbeth.

Their clients range from film studios to theatre producers, television companies to independent distributors, and book publishers to celebrities.

The Birmingham team has worked on local events for He Named Me Malala and The Divergent Series: Allegiant as well as notable films: Deadpool, Me Before You and The Revenant.

BCU film and TV courses

Birmingham City University (BCU) has various film and TV courses with practical hands-on experience – the next Christopher Nolan, Steven Knight, or Keira Knightley are potentially learning the trade in our city right NOW!

TV Companies

Presenter Jason Bradbury at The Gadget Show Live 2016 at the NEC.

Influential TV companies are based in the city, providing fertile ground for fresh talented media graduates to leap straight into employment in the region.

These include Maverick TV (CBBC’s Operation Ouch!, Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies), North One TV (Channel 5’s Gadget Show), and the BBC’s digital innovation unit in Digbeth.

Felicity Jones

Felicity Jones attending a special screening of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story at the BFI IMAX, London(Image: Ian West/PA Wire)

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and The Theory of Everything star Felicity Jones is from Birmingham. Felicity took acting classes at Class Act Drama Centre at the Custard Factory.

Peaky Blinders

An Irish connection to the Peaky Blinders will be explored as part of a week of events to celebrate St Patrick's Day (Image: BBC/Robert Viglasky)

Finally, we asked Peaky Blinders’ creator Steven Knight, who has previously compared the Digbeth region to Tribeca in New York, for his thoughts on why Birmingham has emerged as a film and TV hotspot.

Steven said: “Birmingham is a film set as well as a city. It has modern urban environments, Victorian urban environments, canals, freeways and roads, which an enthusiastic council are prepared to make available.

“It’s a city surrounded by beautiful rolling countryside and has some of the best restaurants in the country. What’s not to love.

“And, it’s all an hour and a bit from central London.

Watch out, Hollywood! Brum is coming.

See Custard Factory mural being made below

How you can become part of Birmingham's Creative Quarter

• If you’d like to join Birmingham’s Creative Quarter, send us an email at sales@custardfactory.co.uk to find out about our available spaces.

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