29 February, 2008 – Film & TV location scouts check out Greater Manchester's hidden gems
A group of leading London-based Location Managers have spent two days in Manchester and Bolton, scouting for possible locations for feature films and TV.
Six members of the Guild of Location Managers were invited to spend time in the region by Northwest Vision and Media, which works on behalf of the region’s film, TV and digital content industries.
"We know we have some fantastic, undiscovered filming locations across Greater Manchester, so the aim of this familiarisation visit was to spread the message to southern-based Location Managers that the Northwest is a glorious base for their productions," explains Susan Williams, Vision and Media’s Film Liaison Officer for Greater Manchester.
Included in the jam-packed itinerary, were visits to Manchester’s last remaining mill. Chatham Mill, at 6 Lower Ormond Street, is the city’s only surviving mill to have been kept in its original state, creating some fabulous, atmospheric filming locations.
"It’s getting harder and harder to find this type of mill, so this is an amazing find," explains Mick Ratman, Chairman of the Association of Location Managers. "Period locations which can be made to look like originals are a prized commodity these days. It’s the same all over the country, as buildings are being bought up and converted into apartments." he adds.
After a guided tour of Manchester’s famous Town Hall, which has doubled for the Houses of Parliament in numerous films and TV dramas, all the Location Managers agreed nowhere else in the country could match its Victorian splendour.
"If there’s a political programme to be made, then no-one could fail to be inspired by Manchester Town Hall as a back-drop," explains Location Manager Malcolm Treen.
The group were also shown the Town Hall’s hidden courtyard, not normally accessible to the public, but which has already seen numerous productions filmed there. "There’s always room for more production, though, which is why we’re keen to let people know what the film friendly Northwest has to offer," explains Susan.
After a tour of Salford’s Pie Factory, and the site of the new mediacity:uk, the group spent time at Bolton’s Town Hall and Le Mans Crescent, before moving on to Swan Lane Mill in Bolton, the Castle Police Station, and several other Bolton locations.
"Familiarisation visits like this are always a good idea because it means we really get a feel for the area, and we also get to meet the people who work in the Film Offices, on whom we rely when we’re planning which locations to use in production," explains Mick.
"We’ve had a very full itinerary because there is so much to see in Manchester and Bolton. It’s a very film friendly region, which makes life is so much easier when the police and council and so on want to work with production companies.
"The Northwest is definitely film friendly, which is why we’d love to do more work up here. Having a major city very close to open countryside is also a huge plus.
"That’s why the visit has been so useful. Even if we haven’t got anything in the pipeline, you never know when the phone is going to ring and we’re going to be asked to find a disused warehouse or a gothic tower – so if we’ve actually been to a city and seen those sorts of things, then it makes our job so much easier.
"It could be a case of just walking down a street and some feature catches your eye, and you just know that is going to be perfect for a certain scene."
Source: North West Vision + Media press release