STEVEN Spielberg was given a helping hand with his latest film by a South Warwickshire businessman.
Mark Hughes-Webb founded SPACE-2 – which finds, promotes and manages locations for the film, television and events industries – a decade ago and has been helping big budget blockbusters and small screen favourites find the perfect locations for filming ever since.
Spielberg, whose list of credits include of ET, Jurassic Park and most recently The BFG, was in Digbeth in Birmingham earlier this month to film scenes for his new film Ready Player One.
And it was up to 41-year-old Mark and his team the Oscar-winning director turned to find the perfect place to film scenes for the sci-fi set in mid-western America in the year 2044. The film stars Mark Rylance and Simon Pegg.
From films such as James Bond: Skyfall and Fast and Furious 6, to Channel 4’s crime drama No Offence, Mark and his 17-strong team help scripts and storyboards become a reality.
And they’re drawing more productions out of London and into Warwickshire – with idyllic cottages, rolling countryside and industrial concrete buildings, Mark believes the county has plenty to offer the film and television industry.
Mark told The Observer: “For us film and TV has been the extreme bit of location sourcing and has really tested us.
“They’re the most short notice and the most ridiculous in the sense of their imagination knows no bounds and so they’ll ask for things like intergalactic boardrooms. It’s not the sort of thing an estate or property agent is going to say ‘yeah I’ve got one of those somewhere’.
“It’s that big difference in looking at a property for what it is and what it could be. But we look at them for our clients and have done things like turning offices into airports.
“We need to try and be more creative than the creatives because we have to try and find something to match what they want.”
The streets of Coventry were taken over to film parts of the 2015 Spooks movie where Game of Thrones star Kit Harrington was seen racing around the streets of London as former MI5 officer Will Holloway on screen. But it was the streets of Coventry which acted as a double for the capital.
Although London is the favourite location of many directors, closing streets or using landmarks to film can prove to be a logistical nightmare.
Kineton-based SPACE-2 think ‘outside of the box’ to provide a set outside of the capital which often brings the production to Warwickshire.
Mark added: “Our challenge is to encourage more productions to come and base themselves in the county.
“Films like Gambit, which stared Cameron Diaz and Colin Firth, came and filmed at Compton Verney mainly because inside it looked like an art gallery in London. But we want to try and stop productions flying in and out again – we want to keep them in Warwickshire.”
Born and bred in the county, after Mark moved back from London nearly five years ago he created the Film Warwickshire initiative to encourage more businesses, photographers and productions to use locations in the Midlands.
Visit www.filmwarwickshire.com or www.space-2.com to find out more.