London: Bollywood’s affection for Britain is growing with the coal mining city of Newcastle in north-east England becoming a hot favourite location to shoot films.
Three Bollywood films were shot in the city this year and at least four more scheduled for 2009, local officials say.
Indian films are shot in various locations across Britain throughout the year, as regional development authorities vie with each other to invite producers by offering local support and incentives.
Newcastle is the latest location that is featuring prominently in Bollywood films. The three films shot in the city this year were Kaun Bola, Apni Boli Apna Des and Phhir.
Lee Aliston, location manager for Kuan Bola and a producer of Phhir, said confidence in the region as a place to shoot Bollywood films among producers had grown.
He said: “I’ve got about four Bollywood producers wanting to produce films in Newcastle. Logistically, it is a very easy place to film. People are so helpful and here you can turn things around rather quickly.
“It’s a beautiful city with the Edwardian streets and all the bridges are lovely.”
James Hails, communications manager at Northern Film and Media, told the local media: “We’re in talks around future Bollywood films coming to the region and I know that the filmmakers enjoyed a productive time here, but nothing is ever 100% guaranteed in the film world.
“One thing I do know is that if we can bring more production to the region we will be willing and able to make that production a success,” he added.
As interest has grown, Mark Jackson, corporate project manager at Newcastle City Council, has acted as a go-between for location managers and the council.
He said they would continue to balance the needs of the filmmakers with those of city centre residents.
“The increased interest is something we definitely want to keep happening though. It’s estimated that between half a billion and one billion people see a Bollywood blockbuster so the potential impact on tourism is huge.”
A recent report by the UK Film Council revealed that tourists from India and other countries who visit locations of popular films contribute nearly £2 billion to the British economy annually.
“Effect of film tourism was long lasting. British films and television programmes play a powerful role in showcasing the UK to the rest of the world and increased tourism,” said John Woodward, chief executive, UK Film Council.
Hailing the phenomena, Minister for Film and Tourism Margaret Hodge said: “We have beautiful scenery and awesome buildings across the length and breadth of Britain. The film and television industries provide a platform to show the rest of the world just how much we have to offer.”
“It is a terrific benefit that not only are our films successful, but their locations are becoming destinations in their own right as people seek to relive their favourite movie moments,” the minister added.
Local officials in Yorkshire estimate that during the IIFA weekend alone in June 2007, the region’s economy gained by nearly £10 million.