Putting Suffolk on the big screen
Babergh and Mid Suffolk leaders have joined colleagues from across the county to agree steps to continue to attract filmmakers to the region – putting Suffolk on the big screen and bringing in millions to the local economy.
Since investing in Screen Suffolk in 2016, the county’s profile has rocketed, with filming days in the region increasing from around 30 days a year to over 800 – and Suffolk landscape and locations featuring in recent blockbusters such as Yesterday, The Dig, The Personal History of David Copperfield and Downton Abbey, plus hit TV series such as BBC 4’s The Detectorists.
The county’s scenery has also attracted brands such as Burberry, Barclays Bank and Marks and Spencer to film adverts locally – bringing an estimated direct spend of £11.5m into the Suffolk economy.
At Friday’s meeting of the Suffolk Public Sector Leaders (SPSL) Group – which includes the county’s local authorities, Suffolk Police, the Integrated Care System and New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) – the partners agreed to extend the current contract with Screen Suffolk by five years and invest a further £16k per year.
Chair of the SPSL Group and leader of Mid Suffolk District Council, Cllr Suzie Morley said:
“The way the service has evolved and grown over a relatively short period of time and the benefits it has already brought to the county have been incredible.”
The company now operates a comprehensive film permitting service, with a database of almost 550 filming locations across Suffolk and registered local Suffolk cast and crew – competing for Suffolk’s share of UK’s rapidly growing successful film sector.
Nationally around £5.64 billion is spent on film and high-end production, with 70% still centred in London and the South East.
Through a partnership with FilmFixer, Screen Suffolk is also working with young people who want to get into the film industry – providing work experience and opportunities to get involved on Suffolk shoots.
Britbox series the Magpie Murders saw the village of Kersey, in Babergh, transported back to the 1950s for filming last year.
Babergh District Council leader Cllr John Ward said:
“The success in bringing filming such as this to our county has been phenomenal – it’s put Suffolk on the map. For a relatively small investment over a five-year period the returns are going to be huge.”
The meeting also heard how Sutton Hoo – Suffolk’s Anglo-Saxon royal burial site – had already experienced some of those returns following the success of Netflix film The Dig, which focused on the discovery and excavation of the archaeological find in the 1930s.
Following the release of the film, the National Trust site saw a boom in numbers with 33,800 visitors last August alone – a 30% increase on pre-pandemic numbers, and the busiest month since the site opened in 2002.
Commenting on the decision, Karen Everett, Director, Screen Suffolk said:
"We are delighted in the PSLG's decision to extend our contract for another 5 years. Our local team has helped grow the film industry in Suffolk since our inception and the economic benefit from visiting productions has been huge. The growth of our freely accessible locations, services and crew databases has demonstrated the increasing size of the industry in our county. We look forward to seeing even more Suffolk on the screen over the coming years."