British talent has been widely heralded in front of the camera in Hollywood, with stars such as John Boyega, Henry Cavill and Emma Watson appearing at the centre of the world’s best-loved franchises. What’s less well-known, however, is how far the UK-US creative relationship stretches beyond names on a marquee.
With companies filled with creative individuals bringing fantastic visions to life, breath-taking locations, and new innovations in technology that make working across continents as simple as working across the street, US projects are seeing increasing benefits from turning to the UK to realise their creative ambitions. From Paddington to Star Wars, it’s easy to find the work of British creatives in the most successful films in the world. It’s hardly surprising, then, that a growing number of US companies are seeking to invest in permanent links with the UK’s ever-evolving infrastructure.
In his book The Good, The Bad, and The Multiplex, celebrated film critic and industry expert Mark Kermode described the British and American film industries as “inextricably intertwined”, noting that many major Hollywood studios seek out UK as a base of operations for their biggest projects. The biggest grossing film of 2017, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, held the bulk of its production in the UK. Many hopeful hits of 2018, including the forthcoming Tomb Raider, Solo: A Star Wars Story, and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindlewald, are also in various stages of completion with British companies.
As a vote of confidence for the UK’s growing role in the industry, Warner Bros. recently announced an investment in their sound facility De Lane Lea in Soho London, developing a “world-class sound and picture post facility” to open in 2021.
Twentieth Century Fox Film has also engaged with the often unparalleled innovation UK companies offer, recently announcing that they have entered into a multi-year production partnership with Locksmith Animation. Founded by Sarah Smith and Julie Lockhart, the UK’s first dedicated high-end CG feature animation company will be collaborating with Fox to produce a new animated film in the UK every year. The deal is a reflection of the UK’s role as part of the American Film Industry’s future, as well as its present.
The UK is also building on its reputation as a post-production hot spot, with the strengths of UK visual effects, animation and commercial production only increasing as creative talent is drawn to the UK. Iconic effects company Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) opened a new office in London specifically for this reason, taking advantage of the significant skills base the city has to offer to complete post-production of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
ILM’s Shaftesbury Avenue base sits close to the hub of an exciting effects boom in the UK’s Capital, minutes away from British-made industry leaders like Framestore, Moving Picture Company and Double Negative, that have brought some of the most spectacular sights in Film and Television to life (with the awards to prove it). ILM’s Chief Creative Officer, John Knoll, believes Trans-Atlantic partnerships are at the heart of what they do. “With our London studio operating in partnership with our team in San Francisco we continue to tap into the best talent to contribute cutting-edge effects and animation to the films, television series and entertainment projects.”
Advances in technology across the industry have also made the working relationship between the UK and Hollywood seamless. Ultra-high capacity broadband, such as the award-winning Sohonet, has been used widely across the UK industry since its conception in the 1990’s and remains a leader in secure high-bandwidth connectivity for the global entertainment industry, allowing easier post production work and fast communications across multiple locations.
Recent technological advances have also increased Sohonet’s reach into cloud technology, with the development of ‘FastLane’, allowing large scale Cloud computing for 3D rendering – an essential when sharing modern VFX. Such innovations allow fast, simple creative interactions that keep projects running on time. The investment in Liverpool’s ultra fast broadband infrastructure will also increase the number of potential city bases in the UK.
Something the UK has always offered Hollywood is a breathtaking number of locations for filming in cities and landscapes across the country. Thor has done battle in Greenwich, while Manchester’s Northern Quarter became 1940’s Brooklyn for his colleague in Captain America: The First Avenger. The city of Oxford’s historic buildings have made parts of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films, while the surrounding villages continue to host everything from Brad Pitt’s war drama Fury, to the soon-to-be-released Mamma Mia! sequel.
The country’s natural beauty is also in high demand. Wales’ Brecon Beacons will be part of the adventure as one of the filming locations for Jurassic World:Fallen Kingdom; while the stunning Quiraing in Scotland’s Isle of Skye was part of Guy Ritchie’s action adventure King Arthur: Legend of The Sword.
The UK offers high quality and innovative solutions in all facets of the creative process. Companies and investors looking to the UK will find a marketplace with established links to the US, developed over time and proven through investment and success. If you are looking to base your project in the UK or looking for a British partner you can trust to deliver your creative vision, you’ll find a treasury of creative resources already here.Connect with a UK partner today to unlock British creative capabilities.