Massive film studios plan for city just weeks from ‘crossing line’ Peaky Blinders writer reveals exciting vision is near reality
STEVEN Knight, the Brummie behind Birmingham-based TV hit Peaky Blinders, has revealed plans for a new film studio near Birmingham Airport will ‘cross the line’ within a month.
Knight has been promoting the idea of a state-of-the-art film studio in the city for years, recently talking about how it could complement the ‘creative revolution’ he feels is sweeping the region.
This week he revealed that his plans for a major new studio complex, called Mercian, were very real, with a vision for six purpose-built sound stages and post-production facilities.
Speaking at Wednesday’s annual GBSLEP Conference, the award-winning writer and director announced that he hopes to have the project up and running within the next month.
“We’re entering a golden age in film and television production,” he said.
“Everyone wants to come to the UK because of the skills of the crew, the actors, the infrastructure, and also because of the 20 per cent tax incentive that film-makers get when they come to the UK.
“As a result of this all of the big blockbusters are coming here, and, as a result of that, Pinewood, Shepperton, Ealing, they’re all fully booked.
“The consequence of that has been a lot of the big cities across the country frantically building factories and warehouses to make them into studios. What I’m proposing here is that in Birmingham, we do it properly.
“What I want to do is take advantage of what Birmingham is and how it functions.”
Talking of his plans for the six new sound stages, he said: “They’ll also be attractive to people that want to make TV, and I want to make them attractive to people making independent films and small films.
“And I also want there to be a halo around that studio where people will be attracted to that environment for post production, for animation, and also for building sets, and all of the industries that go with building a film.”
Knight also revealed plans for a neighbourhood attached to the studio, that will include homes, bars, and restaurants.
He added: “I’ve had this idea for a while and it’s a dream. It could remain a dream if you don’t involve the right people, and I think the right people have been involved over the last two and a half years.
“We’re getting towards a situation where we can now begin to offer the environment to Hollywood studios with a franchise two years away from production, where we can go to them and say ‘what do you want us to build?’
“I just want to let people know that we are imminently going to be doing this thing, and that the more collaboration and the more communication with the local community and with the people who live and work here, the better.
“And I hope within a month that we will be able to make the announcement that things have crossed the line and that we’re going to be able to start making films in two to two-and-a-half years. So, wish us luck.”
Knight also emphasised the need to create an area that would be both well connected and a desirable destination for some of the biggest film executives and stars in the world.
“The studio will be a wheeled suitcase walk from the international airport,” he said.
“It’s near to the train station and of course, soon, will be very near to HS2, which will mean it’ll be 40 minutes away from London. It’s got everything going for it, and for the first time in the past six months I actually believe that it is achievable.”
> Steven Knight, writer and executive producer of hit BBC drama left