As many of you are acutely aware, these are extremely challenging times for the sector. I hope most of you believe that the new production attracted to the region and the millions of pounds in new funds we have been able to create have been game changing contributions to the North East sector.
Some years ago we were facing the cancellation of Wire in the Blood, Coastal's brilliant North East drama and at the time the last remaining bit of North East network TV. There were also very few films being made here. Now we have a combined audience of 76 million viewers for North East TV drama’s alone, including Inspector George Gently,Vera and United. A dozen films have been made here in the last 18 months including Song For Marion, which has been picked up by the Weinstein Company in the US.
As you will have seen we are continuing to deliver events like the Commissioning and Hoults Sessions. We are continuing to bring national partners to work with North East talent through schemes like Jesting About with the BBC and our Sound & Vision partnership with Generator and Domino Records. Talent development has been a core focus and we have established a range of initiatives with partners including the BBC, Channel 4, Film4, ITV and Revolver – initiatives covering film, comedy, drama, documentaries, music video and interactive media.
We are also continuing to work with all the Local Authorities in the North East to deliver on the filming friendly strategy. This means that we are constantly working with a slate of productions that could potentially shoot in the region. We encourage them to film in this region by providing recce funding, local logistical support and a whole range of locations and production advice.
All this work is funded until April next year.
NFM has always been supportive of the plan for Creative England, a single entity to take the place of the old Regional Screen Agencies. From the start, we knew it would be hard to service the needs of the North East sector from bases in Manchester or Birmingham. We therefore took to decision to go it alone and maintain an agency presence here in the hope that we would be able to help Creative England deliver in the North East at a later date.
We are currently in discussion with the Local Authorities, Creative England and the ERDF team about continuing this work beyond next April. So far discussions have been very positive, with Newcastle, Gateshead, Northumberland and Durham authorities all wanting to play a role. We are also in discussion with a range of other local partners who are keen to ensure that the core of NFM remains and continues to champion the North East and its talent.
We remain positive about the future and hopeful that we will be able to reconfigure our funding and approach to operate in this new world.
Our plan is to continue to offer the Location and Production Service, all the events which bring in experts from around the country, and funding to support talent to connect with markets and wider networks. We will continue to lobby for a new creative content fund to follow on from the last highly successful partnership with Northstar Ventures.
We are aware that these are tricky times and have set up a Facebook page where you can post any questions or concerns you may have (http://www.facebook.com/groups/205018306174977/). Do engage with it, and we will do our best to explain the current situation. Or feel free to email me firstname.lastname@example.org