Lights, camera, Manchester: Why the city is fast becoming the location of choice for the film industry

By Joel Stein

In recent years, Manchester has established itself as the UK’s movie-making capital.

The city behind TV shows as diverse as Coronation Street, Red Dwarf, Life on Mars and Waterloo Road is now drawing in filmmakers from Hollywood and beyond.

In 2008, Piccadilly’s backstreets were given a Victorian makeover and temporarily populated with a motley mix of gentlefolk and washerwomen, as Guy Ritchie had chosen to film a scene for Sherlock Holmes in Manchester.

In 2010, scenes from Captain America were shot in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, which was transformed into a vision of 1940’s New York.

This was the first time Marvel had filmed anything outside the US, but not the first time Manchester had been reimagined as the Big Apple – in 2003, shooting for the remake of 60s classic Alfie also saw the Northern Quarter stand in for New York.

In 2011, Meryl Streep came to town to film a scene from The Iron Lady at Manchester’s neo-Gothic town hall.

And last month, scenes from upcoming romantic comedy The Wedding Video (starring British funnymen Rufus Hound and Robert Webb) were shot on a decommissioned Trident airliner at Manchester Airport.

Sure, Oscar-nominated actress Chloe Sevigny may have moaned about the constant rain after spending six months in Manchester filming Hit & Miss for Sky Atlantic, but it doesn’t look like the Hollywood invasion is likely to slow down anytime soon.

In fact, Creative England (the organisation responsible for bringing film & TV productions to the North West) recently reported an overwhelming number of enquiries about shooting in and around Manchester.

So why is it that Manchester is becoming such a popular choice for movie-makers?



Filming in Manchester tends to be cheaper than London and other major cities outside the UK.



Thanks to Manchester’s impressive TV industry, there is a fantastic pool of experienced production staff in the city already.



We don’t have as much red-tape as somewhere like London; it’s a lot easier to get locations cleared for filming, and the authorities work with film-makers to make sure everything goes to plan.



Factors including Manchester’s eclectic mix of architecture and excellent transport infrastructure make it an extremely versatile location. That’s a big bonus if the city hopes to cement its growing reputation as the UK’s movie-making hub.

Thanks to Vivid Photo Visual – the video production Manchester specialists – for providing this article.

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