Hampshire County Council is extremely proactive when it comes to encouraging and supporting film production in the area. Eight years ago it established the dedicated Film Hampshire office, which offers expert information and hands-on assistance to productions of all sizes; not least of which is acting as a valuable contact between the production company, the district authority Film Liaison Officers and the various locations throughout the county.
As Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Economic Development Councillor Ray Ellis explains, “We act as a liaison office between location managers and land and property owners. They want ideas and local knowledge. Even if they can’t find anything in the library, they come to us with enquiries and we have the knowledge of the area to find what they are looking for.”
The first stop for any interested production should be Film Hampshire’s website (www.filmhampshire.org.uk); relaunching in March, the site holds a wealth of resources including a location library, database of local film services and filming guidelines.
This ‘Code of Practice and Filming Guidelines’, is a voluntary agreement supported by Film Hampshire and Hampshire County Council in conjunction with the district councils for Basingstoke, East Hampshire, Eastleigh, Fareham, Gosport, Hart, Havant, New Forest, Portsmouth, Rushmoor, Southampton, Test Valley, Winchester and Tourism South East.
Acting as an essential guide for any production shooting in the county, this document contains information on everything from working with animals and cabling to the removal of litter, the use of highways and subsequent traffic management, insurance and parking, along with specific instructions for the filming in public spaces, such as museums and zoos. It also includes a full list of contacts for film location enquiries throughout Hampshire.
Incentives and Funding
Any film which is spending at least 25 per cent of its total budget shooting in British locations such as Hampshire is potentially able to take advantage of the UK’s current tax relief scheme, designed to support those films deemed to be ‘culturally British’. And in November 2011, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that the scheme, which has been in place since 2006, will be extended to at least 2015.
Films can qualify as British by either meeting the requirements of one of the UK’s official co-production treaties, the European Convention on Cinematographic Co-Production or the Cultural Test; to access tax relief, they must also be intended for theatrical release and reach a minimum UK spend requirement of 25 per cent of the total budget. After meeting all those criteria, those productions with a total expenditure of £20m or less can claim a payable tax rebate of up to 25 per cent of UK qualifying film production expenditure; 20 per cent for those with an expenditure of over £20m. Tax relief is available on all UK production expenditure on the lower of either 80 per cent of total core expenditure, or the actual UK core expenditure. There is no cap on the amount which can be claimed, but the film production company must be within the UK corporation tax net.
Following the demise of the British Film Council, film-funding responsibilities now lie with the British Film Institute, who can provide a wealth of information and advice to any productions shooting in the city. More information can be found at www.bfi.org.uk/about/qualifying/taxrelief.html
HM Revenue & Customs has also set up the Manchester Film Tax Credit Unit, to deal with the corporate tax affairs of companies eligible for tax relief. They can be contacted at RandD.Manchester@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk. Alternatively, the official HMRC guidance to film tax relief can be accessed at www.hmrc.gov.uk/
Additionally, the Enterprise Investment scheme, while still in its infancy in terms of its application to film production, may offer alternative film investment options. (movieScope’s guide to how filmmakers can access the opportunities offered by the EIS can be found here.)
Next time you’re at the movies, look a little closer and you could find the action is more Hampshire than Hollywood
Locations and Facilities
Bordered by the English Channel, and with the national parks of the New Forest and the South Downs covering around 45 per cent of the county, Hampshire has a rich tapestry of locations both rural and urban. From sweeping coastlines, rolling hills and thick forests to urban hubs like Basingstoke, Aldershot and Winchester and market towns including Andover and Lymington, there’s a plethora of choice. The county is also home to two of England’s largest ports, Southampton and Portsmouth.
Film Hampshire’s extensive locations library contains information on over 350 sites situated all over the county, broken down into 10 categories including churches and cathedrals, beaches, wharfs and quays, zoos and museums, amusement parks and country houses, each illustrated with high quality photographs.
“Hampshire is so diverse,” enthuses Councillor Ellis. “We have cities, coastline, beautiful country houses as well as industrial and derelict sites. We go out to location managers who are used to working in London and encourage them to go that little bit further for their location shoots. So next time you’re at the movies, look a little closer and you could find the action is more Hampshire than Hollywood”.
Indeed, a huge variety of feature films including The Da Vinci Code, Quantum of Solace, Gladiator and Inception, and TV shows including Foyle’s War and Midsomer Murders have all taken advantage of Hampshire’s varied and flexible locations.
Recent ITV1 smash hit Downton Abbey was filmed at the stunning Highclere Castle in North Hampshire; set in 6,000 acres of countryside and housing a park designed by Capability Brown. Highclere Castle has also been seen in small screen comedy Jeeves and Wooster and Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut. And Tom Hooper’s forthcoming adaptation of Les Miserables, starring Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman, Sacha Baron Cohen and Amanda Seyfried, will be utilising the county’s charms in March 2012.
As well as providing access to all of the county’s locations, Film Hampshire’s website also provides an A-Z of local film services, from accommodation and broadcast facilities to casting agents, catering services and various hire companies such as Tukshop, who supplied Tuk Tuks for Children of Men when it shot in the county.