Herts, Camera, Action! Hatfield event shines spotlight on Hertfordshire's filming opportunities
- Credit: Courtesy of Prime Video / © Amazon Content Services LLC
Everything from Bridgerton to Batman and Harry Potter to Paddington has been filmed in Hertfordshire.
Hollywood A-listers George Clooney and Timothée Chalamet, and former One Direction star Harry Styles have also all been spotted filming in the county over the last year.
With film-friendly stately homes such as Knebworth House, Hatfield House, and Wrotham Park in the county, it's no wonder Hertfordshire is a go-to destination for filmmakers.
It's not just Herts' magnificent mansions that are attracting film crews though. Historic streets, parks and even a swimming pool have all been used as set locations in the last year.
Having Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden, Elstree Studios, Bovingdon Studios, and the new state-of-the-art Sky Studios Elstree in the county is also a major boon.
Harry Styles filmed scenes for Amazon Prime Video movie My Policeman at Hitchin's outdoor pool last summer, while Dune star Timothée Chalamet shot scenes of the forthcoming Wonka movie in St Albans this year.
As a result, Warner Bros have made a “substantial donation” that is “well into five-figures" after filming parts of the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory prequel near Ye Olde Fighting Cocks pub on Abbey Mill Lane and in Verulamium Park.
In recent months, Katherine Ryan and Romesh Ranganathan have been filming scenes of new Sky comedy Romantic Getaway in the region.
The two comedians were spotted together in Pageant Road, St Albans, in May, while Romesh was also seen in Potters Bar the following month.
Filming has also taken place in Hertford, where George Clooney was spotted at County Hall.
With so much filming taking place in the county, a locations workshop held in Hatfield on Thursday, July 7 gave invested parties a valuable insight into how to capitalise on the opportunities around TV and film.
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Visit Herts, the University of Hertfordshire and the Hertfordshire Growth Hub welcomed over 50 representatives from the creative industries, film and TV supply chain, academia, and the tourism industry to the School of Creative Arts in Hatfield.
The event, which is part of the ongoing Herts, Camera, Action! project, presented an opportunity to encourage knowledge exchange and cross-sector collaboration, and further develop Hertfordshire’s position as a global leader in film and TV to attract further filming, investment and visitors to the county.
Mark Douglas, director of visitor experience at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter, was among the guest speakers.
He said: “We’re hugely excited about the ‘Herts, Camera, Action!’ project and our continued partnership with Visit Herts with the aim of creating a ‘Screen’ USP for Hertfordshire, showcasing the county as a screen tourism destination and the go-to location for film and TV productions.
"Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter already attracts millions of visitors to the destination every year, and by developing more screen tourism experiences, we can expand the fantastic opportunities that Herts has to offer.
"By connecting businesses we will encourage longer stays and disperse tourism across the county, ultimately growing Hertfordshire’s vital visitor economy.”
When it comes to film and TV production, companies like Sky and Amazon are commissioning more content than ever before, with BFI figures released in February 2021 revealing that high-end TV (HETV) production spending hit new records, reaching a total spend of £5.64 billion.
With incredible backdrop scenery, a wealth of location venues, great connectivity, world-class production studios, and the home of a growing number of acclaimed film and TV productions such as Harry Potter and The Crown, Hertfordshire is well on its way to becoming the UK's answer to Hollywood.
The £828,229 Herts, Camera, Action! project, funded by the UK Government through the UK Community Renewal Fund, is now well under way.
The region's tourism industry has an unprecedented opportunity to capitalise on the profile boost that film and TV productions can bring to a local area.
Hosted in partnership with Creative England, the Herts, Camera, Action: Knowledge Exchange Event began with an introduction and insight into the screen tourism opportunities through the project from Danielle Gawler, destination development manager at Visit Herts.
Attendees were also joined by industry keynote speakers, Professor Julie Newlan, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of University of Hertfordshire, and David Conway, chief financial and operations officer at ITN and board member of Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership.
Professor Julie Newlan MBE said: “The university is delighted to be involved in delivering this project with Visit Herts and the Hertfordshire Growth Hub, and we were pleased to host our partners at our School of Creative Arts.
“Led by a teaching team who are renowned practitioners in their own right, the school has long-standing links with the film, TV and wider creative industries that employ our graduates.
"Knowledge exchange is central to what we do: the needs and latest developments of the creative industries are at the heart of our teaching, but we apply our expertise just as often outside the classroom, as consultants and collaborators on a wide variety of projects.
"Herts, Camera, Action! is a fantastic example of this cross-sector collaboration."
David Conway also chairs Hertfordshire LEP’s recently formed film and TV sector panel, and gave an update on their action plan.
He said: “Hertfordshire is already globally renowned in the film and TV sector with its impressive portfolio of studio facilities, the associated supply chain businesses, and the expert production crew located in the county – and that offering is set to increase significantly in the medium term with further studio facilities coming onstream.
"Accordingly, the Hertfordshire LEP Film and TV Panel has been formed, comprising senior industry representatives, in order to further catalyse growth opportunities through targeted initiatives and investments.”
During the event, Visit Herts also launched the new screen tourism destination video which will be used as part of an ongoing marketing campaign to position Hertfordshire as the number one destination for making and experiencing film in the UK.
The campaign will also help to take 10 new screen tourism visitor experiences to market.
These exciting new products are being developed as part of the Herts, Camera, Action! project with the support of specialists at Visit Herts and University of Hertfordshire’s business advisors, Heritage Hub and School of Creative Arts experts.
The importance of this project was highlighted in a preview of new research commissioned by Visit Herts, which examines perceptions of Hertfordshire.
With just 32 per cent of people recognising the film and TV sector as a strength for Hertfordshire, a number which rises to 55 per cent among Hertfordshire residents, the research stresses the need to increase awareness of the county as a world-class destination for film and TV.