New studios at former RAF base to boost York’s film industry

by Victoria Prest, Political reporter

THE former RAF base at Church Fenton has a bright new future – as a mini Hollywood in the heart of Yorkshire.

Screen Yorkshire is to develop a major new studio space at RAF Church Fenton, which its bosses say will boost Yorkshire’s burgeoning film and TV industry.

Through an exclusive deal with property firm Makin Enterprises, which now owns the former RAF site near Tadcaster, Screen Yorkshire is to redevelop more than 100,000 sq ft of air hangar into “Yorkshire Studios”.

Sally Joynson, the funding body’s boss, said: “The opening of ‘Yorkshire Studios’ is a significant landmark for the UK film and TV industry. The Yorkshire Content Fund has enabled us to secure some incredible projects that have made great use of our existing portfolio of studio space.

“The lack of a larger-scale production facility however, has prevented a number of major long-term film and TV productions from basing themselves here. These productions hold huge potential for sustaining the industry’s infrastructure and workforce, so it became clear that securing such a site should be a priority.”

The site is available film and TV production companies, and Screen Yorkshire is already inviting enquiries from film makers who want to use the 100,000 sq ft of air hangar space.

Adrian Wootton , chief executive of the British Film Commission, said Yorkshire Studios would be a welcome addition for the UK’s film industry.

“The UK represents a tremendous draw for overseas productions thanks to its generous Creative Sector Tax Reliefs, and our world-class crews, locations, talent and facilities.

“Success of course means increased demand, so the significant new studio space at Church Fenton is incredibly welcome news, and I congratulate Screen Yorkshire in their work in helping make it happen. It represents a real boost the UK’s existing production infrastructure and will also be an added incentive for domestic and international productions to shoot in the area, and enable them to access the Yorkshire Content Fund.”

Yorkshire’s film credits have been on the rise recently, with productions including:

  • The BBC’s Jonathon Strange and Mr Norrell filmed in York last year
  • Death Comes to Pemberley was filmed on location at Castle Howard, the Eye of York, and St Williams College.
  • The Dads’ Army film, shot last year, used Bridlington as Walmington-on Sea
  • The 2006 film Garfield 2 filmed external scenes at Castle Howard
  • A BBC version of J B Priestley’s An Inspector Calls filmed in Malton and is due for broadcast later this year.
  • Cate Blanchett filmed her coronation scene as Elizabeth I, for the 1998 film Elizabeth, in York Minster.
  • York station stood in for King’s Cross in the iconic Chariots of Fire.

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