The millions of reasons to tell our story9 March 2010
Nottingham's burgeoning film industry is set to bring millions of pounds of investment to the region over the next two years.
Oranges and Sunshine, starring Emily Watson, tells the real-life story of West Bridgford social worker Margaret Humphreys, who helped uncover Britain's child migrant scandal.
The £3m film is scheduled for an international 2011/12 release.
Oranges and Sunshine will be helped by recent publicity over the case.
Last week the estimated 130,000 children who were forcibly sent to live in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada and the former Rhodesia during the 20th Century received an apology from Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
The film's backers now believe investment in the area will run into several million.
Although Russell Crowe's Robin Hood was not filmed in the region, Experience Nottinghamshire forecasts a massive increase in tourism. A potential 10% rise would result in £46 million of investment in the city.
Since 2007, film production has brought over £40m into the Nottinghamshire economy.
The catalogue of movies include Shane Meadows's This Is England, Control, Dead Men's Shoes and Samantha Morton's The Unloved, shown on Channel 4 last year and released in cinemas last month.
All of these films were co-financed by EM Media, the local film investment agency, which was also a key investor in Oranges and Sunshine.
In eight years it has backed 35 films - many of them highly successful - and has a further four in the pipeline. The agency poured £150,000 into Oranges and Sunshine - £25,000 during development stage and £125,000 during production.
In exchange, two weeks of filming took place in locations all over the city.
"Oranges and Sunshine is one of the largest projects we have funded," explained Suzanne Alizart, head of content creation.
"What was massively attractive was the fact it was such a regional story. We have staff at EM Media who actually know people who were former child migrants. We knew straight away it was going to be a really important film."
Filming took place between November 9 and 21 at a variety of locations including Carlton Cemetery, Sneinton Market, Nottingham Station, County Hall - where Margaret Humphreys once worked - flats in Radford and at East Midlands Airport.
Nottingham's Council House was used as a meeting location and a doctor's surgery.
Because the film is set in the 1980s, the producers had to disguise more modern aspects of the city.
All the digital signs in East Midlands Airport were covered and replaced with painted ones.
"It takes a lot of work," explained Nic Smith, EM Media's locations executive. "The location manager has to drop a letter through the door of every house on the street where they're filming and contact the Highways Department, asking for cars to be moved and the road to be closed.
" Nottingham City Council is always very accommodating. You have to be careful about things like double-glazed windows if you're doing a period piece."
Dozens of local extras were used in the film, playing passengers at the airport and crowds in the city.
About a third of the 60-strong crew came from the East Midlands, using production offices at the old Carlton Studios. Meanwhile Notts company Anglo American Vehicles provided all the period cars.
EM Media was first approached about financing Oranges and Sunshine 18 months ago, before Emily Watson's involvement.
The agency is regularly approached by production companies requiring investment. It also sources locations, skilled crew and extras for films shot locally and promotes the region as a potential destination for film-makers.
"What we try to do is establish whether a project is viable commercially and creatively and what kind of impact it will have on the region," explains Suzanne.
"There's no reason why everything should have to be filmed down in London.
"We have the facilities, we have the locations and we have the expertise.
"There are parts of Nottingham that can double for New York or London and it's cheaper to film here than down South."
The agency was formed in 2002 and is based in Nottingham city centre. It was one of nine set up across England by the British Film Council, a Government-backed agency which had perceived a need for a UK-wide presence for the industry.
It is funded by European grants, government money, the East Midlands Development Agency and Lottery money.
EM Media had previously worked with Sixteen Films - the company behind Oranges and Sunshine - on Summer, starring Robert Carlyle.