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How to be a Filmmaker in Manchester

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Manchester is widely regarded as being second only to London in the UK for filmmaking and broadcast opportunities. With a multitude of well-respected film schools and courses, the Manchester International Film Festival, MediaCityUK’s presence in Salford since 2007 (which has created thousands of TV and radio jobs), and organisations such as HOME Cinema in Deansgate which support the city’s independent filmmakers, Manchester is an ever-growing regional powerhouse for northern filmmakers, such as myself. 

A real smorgasbord of films and shows have been filmed in Manchester over the years. Notably, Peaky Blinders has been filmed around Bolton and Victoria Baths recently, as has Robert Downey Jr. in Sherlock Holmes. MediaCity is home to the Coronation Street and BBC Breakfast sets. Even Manchester’s Northern Quarter was dressed to look like New York City for sequences in Captain America: The First Avenger and Netflix’s The Crown

MediaCityUK in Salford, home to BBC Breakfast, BBC Radio, Coronation Street and many other nationwide broadcast studios.

Aspiring young Mancunion filmmakers can take advantage of the myriad opportunities offered around the city. HOME cinema, established in 2015 and now situated in Deansgate, runs the regional BFI Film Academy for 16-19 year olds interested in getting into the film industry. Having taken part in the programme myself when I was 16, co-directing and writing the comedy/horror short film Mrs Rellik in the process (which was shot on location in Altrincham), I can attest to how fantastic the experience is for young filmmakers. It was the first proper short film most of us on the programme had ever made, and we got to work with professional cinema cameras and a decent budget to turn our script into something we could eventually premiere at HOME Cinema. As a networking opportunity, I built connections with like-minded young filmmakers from around Manchester, many of which I remain in regular contact with today, and who I have collaborated on film projects with since. 

HOME Cinema in Deansgate.

Manchester University is home to both the Filmmaking Society and FuseTV station for students interested in getting involved in media production. As deputy head of Entertainment at FuseTV, I have interviewed several bands and artists and made some mini documentaries during Semester 1, such as this one about female and non-binary DJ’s in Manchester, and have many more big projects planned in Semester 2. Likewise, the Filmmaking Society are filming several fiction short films this semester, of which I am on the crew for too. Anyone interested in getting involved with FuseTV or the Filmmaking society should get in touch with them on their Instagram or Facebook pages. 

A Manchester-based startup called Paus.TV describes itself as the “Netflix of Independent Films”, with a free online streaming service platform for indie filmmakers to upload their projects to and receive donations in the form of tips directly from the audience. Founded by Manchester University graduate Rishi Kapoor, and running their operations from their offices near Piccadilly Station, they are working with a suite of Manchester-based filmmakers and film school students to give them a platform to distribute their content to and earn revenue from their films. They are also exploring the crypto/NFT space as a potential means for filmmakers to finance and monetise their work, and create a sense of ownership amongst viewers – moving away from the traditional venture capital investment approach to getting films funded. 

Manchester Film Festival is taking place between 12 and 20 March 2022 at the ODEON Great Northern and will likely see some famous faces in attendance. It’s an exciting time in history to be a filmmaker, with filmmaking tools and resources at the most readily available they have ever been – and Manchester is an increasingly vibrant city for up-and-coming filmmakers to base themselves. Perhaps the next Speilberg will be a Mancunian? 

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