Venture South, the Isle of Wight Cultural Investment Company, is pleased to announce the launch of Filmwight, the Island’s official film office.
Created in response to the Isle of Wight’s growing creative sector and the need for a central point of contact for the industry, Filmwight is part of Venture South’s strategic plan to stimulate job opportunities and the local economy.
A non-commercial organisation
Filmwight is a non-commercial organisation set up to attract and support UK and international productions. Endorsed by Creative England’s Filming in England team, the Isle of Wight Council and members of industry body Film Offices UK, Filmwight’ s officers connect filmmakers with the locations, people, facilities and companies who can help their productions run smoothly, on time and within budget.
Seely: Culture and arts at heart of Island’s regeneration
Bob Seely, MP for the Isle of Wight, said,
“Filmwight comes out of our desire to see culture and arts at the heart of the Island’s regeneration. The seed funding came, in part, out of initial meetings with the Arts Council when I outlined our ideas, back in 2017, to use arts and culture to support a better and more prosperous future for the Island. I believe that we need to use arts and culture for education, for aspiration and for regeneration.
“I would like to thank Linda Sullivan and Stephen Izatt at Venture South, the Island’s cultural investment company, for their outstanding leadership. Linda and Stephen have both done this remarkable service to the Island unpaid. They are driven by their passion for the Island. I am grateful to them both. I would also like to thank Creative England and Arts Council England for their critical support, along with the Isle of Wight Council and sponsors, Wightlink.”
Shoots result in tangible earnings
According to The British Film Commission high-end production spend in the UK in 2020 was over $3.9bn (£2.84bn), with inward investment representing $3.3bn (£2.36bn) of that total.
Location shoots result in tangible earnings across a range of services, from accommodation providers to restaurants, taxi drivers, chippies right the way through to specialist set designers, lighting technicians and animators.
A valuable long-term benefit of location filming on the Isle of Wight is placemaking. Film and TV are potent soft power ambassadors with great potential for creating awareness and stimulating film tourism.
Linda Sullivan, Chair, Venture South and Filmwight co-founder, said,
“The mission of Venture South is to nurture projects and partnerships that enhance the creative and economic potential of the Isle of Wight.
“We know we can generate jobs by encouraging film, TV and advertising companies to use the Island for their location shoots and through our new film office we will promote the Isle of Wight as one of the UK’s most attractive regional production hubs.”
Diverse mix of coastal, rural, historical, suburban and industrial spaces
Boasting a sub-tropical micro-climate and some of the sunniest weather in the UK, the Isle of Wight is an excellent choice for producers in search of original locations and a favourable climate. Just two hours from London, the Isle of Wight is often described as mini-England, with an exceptionally diverse mix of coastal, rural, historical, suburban and industrial spaces within easy reach of each other.
Few places have such coast to coast diversity and a significant incentive to film on the Island is the variety of locations: period villages, grand stately homes, modernist architecture, derelict buildings, vineyards, seaside piers and miles of expansive cliffs and beaches. Perhaps most surprising are the locations that can easily double for the Algarve or the Mediterranean. Coupled with the Island’s microclimate producers have an excellent alternative to filming overseas.
Strong network of creative and technical professionals
The Isle of Wight is home to a strong network of creative and technical professionals and the skills infrastructure on the Island spans film, digital and gaming.
Logistically, there is a lot of freedom to film and, when needed, Filmwight can help take care of permissions through their affiliation with the council.
State-of-the art studio complex
Looking to the future, building studio facilities is Filmwight’s next project. The directors are working with a consortium of specialists in this field with a view to opening a state-of-the art studio complex within the two years.
Stephen Izatt, Director, Venture South and Filmwight co-founder said,
“Throughout history the Island has been attractive to creative people and original thinkers – from Dickens to Karl Marx, Alfred Noyes, Turgenev, Swinburne, Turner, Tennyson – the list is endless. We are an attractive place for creatives and I think one of the reasons is we offer space to think and create.
“On the Isle of Wight there are wonderful places to inspire artists to paint, photograph and write. This is part of our history and its part of our future.”
Now the ideal time
As overseas locations are currently inaccessible for UK producers due to Covid travel restrictions, now is an ideal time for producers to consider the Isle of Wight as a safe alternative.
The Island is easily accessible by car, train, private planes and helicopters from central London and the UK’s leading film studios such as Pinewood, Shepperton and Twickenham.
Sponsorship deal with Wightlink
As budgets are always a primary consideration Filmwight, in its first major sponsorship deal, have negotiated special crossing incentives with Wightlink, the main ferry company servicing the Isle of Wight.
Wightlink has created a special Filmwight Pass offering free and discounted passage to producers, location managers, crew and talent.
Recent film locations
The Isle of Wight has provided locations for a wide variety of feature films and television series – from “Victoria & Abdul” to “That’ll Be the Day” and, most recently, the BritBox series “The Beast Must Die”.
Ed Rubin, Executive Producer The Beast Must Die, Head of New Regency Television International, added,
“We shot all of ‘The Beast Must Die’ on the Isle of Wight for 11 weeks last autumn, filming at over 60 locations including several days at sea.
“Despite the inevitable stresses of shooting during the pandemic, the cast and crew thoroughly enjoyed their time on the Island, and it certainly provided a unique and stunning backdrop for the drama.”
A creative heritage
Over the years the Isle of Wight has been home to artists and creatives. Julia Cameron, the pioneer of photography, lived here as did Britain’s award-winning director and screenwriter Anthony Minghella. Leading artists from the watercolour movement were drawn to the Island due to the special quality of light – and this tradition lives on.
Bob Seely added,
“The Island has one of the most unique and remarkable artistic legacies in the world. Yet, for 50 years we have forgotten about this.
“Not only are culture and the arts important in life in themselves, but cultural tourism, film-making and creative arts and industries should be an important part of our economy, and it is clear that we need to be diversifying our economy to create more opportunities for Islanders.
“Filmwight is part of that diversification. It has the chance to put us on the map for film production and bring in millions of pounds a year to the Island.
“The Island should be at the forefront of filmmaking in the UK, a large and fast-growing creative industry. An Isle of Wight film office has been long overdue.”
News shared by Gillian Dobias on behalf of Venture South and Filmwight. Ed
Image: © Gianpaolo Mario Photography