Production service in the UK
Swixer can assist you with production service in the UK. Our mission is to help international clients with their Film, TV, Digital and Stills productions. In the UK we have local Producers, Fixers, Sound operators and Production managers who can help tailor and manage international shoots of all sizes. We have a solution-oriented and flexible mindset that we bring to every production, no matter the size.
Fixers, Producers & Local Crew in the UK
We can provide local production services in the UK in terms of crew, locations and logistics and more. Our experienced producers and fixers are used to manage and coordinate international shoots of all kinds: TV-series, feature films, commercials, branded content, documentaries, corporate as well as still shoots. We operate all across the United Kingdoms and can help tailor crew anywhere.
About the UK
The first thing to know about the United Kingdoms is that it includes 4 main countries, each of which has differing degrees of autonomy. On the mainland there is England, Scotland and Wales (which make up what is called Great Britain). And then across the Irish Sea is Northern Ireland which has a border with the entirely independent Irish Republic to the south.
Each of these four “Home Nations” have very individual identities and some areas within them have their own language though everyone can speak English. There are independence movements in Scotland, Wales and Ireland. And visitors should remember that Scotland is not in England, and Northern Ireland is not in Great Britain. It’s complicated and it’s easy to offend!
There are also some odd islands which are not part of the UK but which are essential pretty British. These include the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea, and the Channel Islands which are actually just a few miles off the French Coast.
The UK left the EU in 2021 after a close referendum in 2016. The process was called Brexit and the country is still very divided over the issue. For media crews it has increased the customs and immigration requirements when travelling between the EU and the UK and vice versa.
Filming locations in the UK
London is the UK’s population and international transportation hub as well as the centre of its film and TV industry. So unless productions require iconic London landmarks it is worth considering other locations across the UK.
The choice of grandiose city locations depends very much on the historic period and social class of the required background. York is famous for its narrow medieval streets, while Newcastle has one of the finest 19th century planned city centres in Europe. The city of Bath near Bristol is famed for its 18th century well preserved architecture. And there is no shortage of the gritty urban locations of public housing that feature in the films of Ken Loach. However it is important to remember that irrespective of the period, architectural styles and building materials vary enormously across the UK. It’s hard to make streets in Edinburgh look like London!
There is a similar variation in rural locations. The area know as the Cotswolds in the south west Midlands has no shortage of quaint and gently picturesque villages such as Bibury., where the houses are built out of a light and golden sandstone. But villages in the Pennines, the upland hills that run up the centre of Northern England, are more austere and built in grey stone.
The UK has an enormous number of historic castles and large country houses, which are also know as ‘stately homes’. Many are private owned and may not be open to the public, though the most famous and well preserved are in the hands of organisations like the National Trust. Again it is worth looking beyond the south east of England as the most dramatic castles tend to be in the most dramatic locations such as Northumberland (eg Bamburgh) and Scotland (eg Hermitage).
And if it is remote empty beaches you need, head north as well. The Isle of Harris has some of the largest and nearly always deserted beaches in Europe. The white sands and turquoise sea mean they are often used as a stand in for more tropical locations.
The stunning scenery and open roads of the Highlands of Scotland, and the English Lake District, are regular locations for car commercials.
And finally you can always track down the actual locations used for some of the most popular TV shows such as Downton Abbey (Highclere Castle, Hampshire), Peaky Blinders (Birmingham and the Peak District), and Game of Thrones (Northern Ireland).
Despite its relatively small area, the UK has an extraordinary range of geographical and architectural diversity. There are rugged mountains up to 1500 metres, rolling hills, and flat coastal plains. Apart from some areas in the east of England there is very little industrial scale agriculture and the cultivated countryside is a random patchwork of small fields and woods based on historical boundaries marked by hedges and walls.
The urban environment has changed and there are modern industrial and retail developments around most towns. But the historic centres of UK towns tend to have more historic architecture than many of their European counterparts. Architecture is also very regionally specific and based on the local building materials.
The advantage of the compact yet diverse landscape for media crews is that almost any location can be reached in a days travel from London.
Film Production in the UK
The UK has the largest film and TV industry in Europe and all resources are available from large sound stages on a number of famous studio sites such as Pinewood, to equipment rental companies in all large cities.
There are an increasing number of volume stages, and every technical service can be provided from vehicle tracking to helicopter aerials.
Because of the size of the industry there are thousands of trained and experienced crew members across all departments from runners to DoPs, and from caterers to VFX supervisors. However production is at an all time high and assembling a full drama crew needs as much advance notice as possible
Local Film Departments in the UK
There is extensive support for filming across the UK. Each region has its own regional film organisation which holds a data base of local crews and facilities, as well as administering any government grants or loans for film production.
In addition most local authorities or councils will have a designated film officer who can issue permits for major shoots that might involve restricting public access or closing roads. Depending on the scale of the disruption involved there is a cost for this.
Certain NGOS and charities that own large historic properties or locations also have their own film departments. Most historic buildings and many landscape sites in the England are owned by one of two charities, the National Trust and English Heritage. There are similar organisation is Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. These organisation receive many requests for filming and have dedicate film departments. They will charge for filming access but the range of locations can be impressive.
Travelling to the UK
Visiting productions should remember that London is not the only international transport hub into the UK. Other major cities such as Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, and Newcastle all have good international flight connections and avoiding London’s main airports can simplify any shoot not located in the south east of England.
Travelling to and from Europe is possible by a number of direct ferry routes from the Netherlands, France, Ireland and Spain, as well as via the Channel Tunnel. There are also High speed trains services direct from destinations in Northern Europe. It should be remembered that even before Brexit, people in the UK use the term ‘Europe’ to describe the mainland of Europe.