The California Gold Rush saw hundreds of thousands of people rush to California in search of gold. Fast forward almost two centuries, and Hollywood is rushing back, to a place near you to the UK to film more of the amazing content for which we seem to have an insatiable demand.
As studios move from licences to longer term leases, finding studio space in the right locations is starting to resemble the hunt for that elusive gold dust. The stages are only part of the story, with a need for backlots, workshops, offices and parking on the site, and a never ending requirement for storage.
Developers are building more space as quickly as they can, often delivering in phases to meet the production company's filming schedule. With Knight Frank predicting an additional 6 million sq ft of space will be needed by 2026, considerations will include finding the right property in the right location, and sourcing a good delivery team who can help avoid potential pitfalls along the way.
While a tentpole film might take over a studio for six months, a high-end TV series will bed in for years. “It locks up the space, it locks up the talent and so you have to find another space for another television series because it’s not going to become vacant again,” Wootton says. “We realised that we needed to encourage private investment to come in . That’s why we’ve got something like 3.5 million sq ft of new studio space either under construction or in planning.” Planning consents for film studios rose by 45 per cent between 2018 and 2021, according to Knight Frank, and the UK is on track to have more studio space and filming facilities than Los Angeles within two years.