Nottingham to offer 'ideas incubator' for the film industry

   
   
A film reel
10 Oct 2011 15:46:48.583
PA 302/11

An innovative initiative could see filmmakers and studios in Hollywood and around the globe turning to Nottingham experts for solutions to the biggest challenges facing the screen industries.

The project, led by researchers in The University of Nottingham’s Institute for Screen Industries Research, proposes to develop the city as an ‘ideas incubator’ for the industry, providing innovation generation on everything from working practices to new technology prototypes.

The Production and Research Innovation for Screen Industries (PRISE) initiative will build both on research capacity and production opportunities, working in close collaboration with regional partners The Welbeck Estate and EM Media, to place the East Midlands region of the UK at the heart of film and TV innovation and production.
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Dr Gianluca Sergi, Director of the Institute for Screen Industries Research, said: “Through this innovative new partnership we won’t just be working with the film industry, we will hopefully be helping to transform it.

“Currently, there is little dialogue between the screen industries and academia as a means to develop innovation through research and ingenuity but this initiative will offer filmmakers and studios — traditionally working in a very competitive environment — the chance to collaborate within a neutral space to fill that void.”

The project builds on Nottingham’s established reputation as a centre of excellence for film research and the close links it has already formed with leading studios Fox and Lionsgate as part of its talent development programme, the Hollywood Internship Scheme.

It recently played host to Tom Walsh, a leading Hollywood designer and president of the Art Directors Guild (ADG), for a series of industry masterclasses and research seminars.

Dr Sergi has been involved in extensive talks with filmmakers and executives from leading studios including Fox, Pixar, WETA, Lucasfilm, and professional organisations such as the filmmakers’ guilds in the US to establish the main challenges facing the industry at a time when it is diversifying and reacting to the fast-evolving digital landscape of film production.

The results of the discussions highlighted executives’ concerns over the need for new business models in an industry whose working practices have ultimately been slow to develop and adapt to the changing landscape of production. They also cite the increasing polarisation between blockbuster movies and small/micro-budget productions and the untapped potential of digital methods of distributing and screening their material and tackling piracy.

Filmmakers, however, speak of a ‘silos’ mentality acting as an obstacle to innovation and the urgent need for greater dialogue, both among different film departments and between studios and filmmakers to support greater efficiency and the long-term sustainability of the industry.

The industry will be able to access a large network of multi-disciplinary expertise through the Institute for Screen Industries Research, which draws in staff from the University’s Faculty of Arts, Nottingham University Business School, Horizon Digital Economy Research and the School of Computer Science. The first result of this wide-ranging collaboration between academia and industry is a major report examining the role of film studios and models of production in the digital age.

Collaborative research projects on industry issues and challenges will sit within a wider collaboration in the region whose aim is to provide opportunities for production as well as research. In partnership with the Welbeck Estate based in north Nottinghamshire, and EM Media, the University has seen an opportunity to offer industry partners access not only to research expertise but also to practical production facilities to draw filmmakers to the region, particularly small and micro budget productions currently being squeezed out of production schedules by the trend for larger studios to cater more for blockbusters and TV series.

The University’s King’s Meadow Campus, formerly the home of ITV Carlton studios, retains key facilities for including studios, workshops, offices and access to loading bays. In recent years, it has been used for a number of successful small budget productions including the BAFTA nominated Ian Curtis biopic Control and Bunny and the Bull.

The Welbeck Estate is also hoping to build on its reputation as an ideal location for filming. Its 15,000 acres of impressive landscapes and 250,000 square feet of listed buildings have already been seen in the critically-acclaimed feature film of 2008 Bronson and the BBC’s 2010 production of Macbeth.

Rob Mayo, director of the Welbeck Estate, said:

“This project to create a hub of excellence in the region, involving both the facilities at King’s Meadow and Welbeck as both a location and as a space for the creative industries will be transformational for local community and for the East Midlands as a whole.”

Debbie Williams, Chief Executive of EM Media, added:

“PRISE brings together in one forward-facing initiative two strong Nottingham traditions; internationally renowned filmmaking and research. EM Media is delighted to play a partnership role, in generating practicable ideas that can effect change within the industry at a time when the landscape is shifting so considerably.”

The Institute for Screen Industries Research’s network of partners is constantly expanding and it welcomes all enquiries from industry and academia about future partnerships and collaborative projects.

— Ends —

Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham, described by The Sunday Times University Guide 2011 as ‘the embodiment of the modern international university’, has award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings. It was named ‘Europe’s greenest university’ in the UI GreenMetric World University Ranking, a league table of the world’s most environmentally-friendly higher education institutions, which ranked Nottingham second in the world overall.

The University is committed to providing a truly international education for its 40,000 students, producing world-leading research and benefiting the communities around its campuses in the UK and Asia.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranked the University 7th in the UK by research power. The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health.

More news from the University at: www.nottingham.ac.uk/news

Story credits

More information is available from the Institute director Dr Gianluca Sergi on +44 (0)115 846 7466, gianluca.sergi@nottingham.ac.uk; (Skype: glwork)
 

Emma Thorne Emma Thorne - Media Relations Manager

Email: emma.thorne@nottingham.ac.uk Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5793 Location: University Park

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