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Friday, 3 August, 2001, 11:25 GMT 12:25 UK
Film studio plan for West Country
Juliette Binoche in Chocolat
Scenes from Chocolat were filmed in the South East
The West Country could become the UK's answer to Hollywood thanks to a plan to build 66m film studios in either Cornwall or Devon.

The Full Picture Company, a consortium of UK investors led by Oscar-winning film designer Peter Lamont, plans to build the facilities at an unnamed site in the West Country.

It will be a wonderful asset for the South West and a complement to the locations we already have here

Sue Craig, South West Film Council

As well as a blockbuster stage, almost twice the size of Pinewood's largest, there are plans for special effects workshops, post-production suites, a recording studio and concert facilities.

British-born Mr Lamont - who worked on 16 of the 19 James Bond films and won an Oscar for his work on Titanic - hopes that the venture will help expand the UK's burgeoning film industry.

"We have conducted extensive consultations with those in the industry and are convinced that we are providing a solution which will meet the needs of international film and television producers, now and in the future."


The project awaits final planning approval before going ahead. The consortium hopes to have the studios up and running within 12 months, with full-scale operations planned for 2005.

Sue Craig, film liaison officer at the South-West Film Council, welcomed news of the project and the possibility of expanding on what is already a busy film location.

Scenes from the Oscar-nominated Chocolat and the forthcoming Crush starring Andie McDowell were filmed in the region.

"It will be a wonderful asset for the South West and a complement to the locations we already have here," she said.

Nicole Kidman
Nicole Kidman spent time in London recently filming The Hours
The South West Film Council has a database of some 800-1,000 film crew already living in the area and state-of-the-art film facilities, including one which created snow effects for 101 Dalmatians.

Full Picture Company also cite the region's "stunning locations" and "excellent climate and longer lasting quality of light" as reasons for the project.

The South West does not at present attract full feature-film projects, though the UK is increasingly hosting such productions as The Hours, starring Nicole Kidman or The Importance of Being Earnest with Judi Dench and Colin Firth.


The prospect of a major studio facilities, though 66m is not a large sum by the standards of studio building costs elsewhere, could change this.

""If having a major studios could mean attracting more full productions here, that's a huge benefit," said Ms Craig.

A number of film studio projects and expansions have been put forward for the South West in the past, but none have been completed.

And even if the Full Picture Company project goes ahead, the real problem - according to Ms Craig - will be getting stars and crews, used to metropolitan attractions, to agree to long sessions in the country.

"The Full Picture Company is aware that it has got a task on its hands in actually extracting major productions from London and bringing them here," she said.

See also:

27 Jun 01 | Arts
Regional film gets 6m boost
03 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Lottery funds film failures
21 Jun 01 | TV and Radio
Ealing for the 21st Century
21 Jun 01 | Film
Carry On Pinewood
21 Oct 99 | Scotland
255m studio plan for Scotland
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