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Screen Suffolk to be given £80,000 investment from Suffolk councils over the next five years

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Suffolk’s film office, which has worked to make Suffolk the scenic backdrop for films such as The Dig and Downton Abbey Two, will gain £80,000 of additional investment over the next five years.

The decision to extend the contract between the Suffolk public sector leaders group and the film office for five years and increase investment by £16,000 per year was made during a meeting of the group last Friday.

The office, named Screen Suffolk, was commissioned in 2016 to promote the county as a location for filming and support film-based work experience for young people.

The filming of David Copperfield in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Screen Suffolk
The filming of David Copperfield in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Screen Suffolk

Since 2016, an investment of £284,000 has enabled 887 filming days to take place across 548 locations in the county. Previously, the number of filming days was around 30.

The direct spend in Suffolk’s economy as a result of filming here is estimated by Screen Suffolk to be £11.5m.

Jayne Knight, arts development manager at Suffolk County Council who brought the proposal to Friday’s meeting, said: “The film sector is one of the most successful, growing business sectors in the UK.

“The combined total UK spend on film and high-end productions for 2021 was £5.4bn. This was the highest since records began.

“And yet, 70 per cent of the film sector is based in London and the south east, where 79 per cent of film sector turnover is spent.

“Suffolk was late to the game in promoting locations for filming; some other regions had been investing in this for 20 years by the time we started in 2016.

“We have worked out a formula for measuring the economic impact of investing in location filming, and we believe there has been over £11m spent in the Suffolk economy directly so far.

“This is why we are doing it a – we want that economic benefit for Suffolk.

“We also want our young people to know they will have the opportunity to work in the film industry”

549 cast and crew members living in Suffolk have been provided with an overall 1,325 days of work since 2016, while young residents have benefited from 392 days of work experience and 239 paid marshalling jobs.

West Suffolk College film production students have recieved “set ready” training, provided through a partnership between Screen Suffolk and London film service FilmFixer.

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.”

Since the creation of Screen Suffolk, the county has hosted crews and cameras for the films Yesterday, The Dig, David Copperfield and Downton Abbey Two – among others.

Series with footage filmed in Suffolk have included The Detectorists and Magpie Murders, while Burberry, Marks & Spencer and Barclays Bank have joined other businesses in using the county for commercials.

The public sector leaders group includes representatives from the county’s local authorities, Suffolk Police, the integrated care system and New Anglia local enterprise partnership.

The group invests using its own pot of money, which is made up of contributions from all county and district authorities in Suffolk.