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Aardman shines spotlight on Bristol

City plays host to biennial Wildscreen Festival

Famous for its leafy Georgian crescents and spectacular suspension bridge designed by the great Victorian architect Isambard Kingdom Brunel, this once-thriving industrial city is a magnet for London-based filmmakers seeking standout locations — and home to an eclectic bunch of producers.

“Bristol is a real creative cluster,” opines RDF Media’s managing director of television Grant Mansfield, who has spent much of his career making network programs outside London.

Indeed, after Manchester, the West Country capital city of Bristol — home of the BBC’s internationally famous Natural History Unit — is the U.K.’s most dynamic production hub outside London.

Based on their levels of revenue, two of the top 10 U.K. regional indies are Bristol based: toon specialists, the Oscar-winning Aardman Animations and factual producer Tigress Prods. Between them they were responsible for sales worth more than $100 million last year.

Wildlife documentaries put Bristol on the map; the city hosts the biennial Wildscreen Festival that brings together natural history programmakers from around the globe — but BBC Bristol’s music shows are also making an impact.

“The Seven Ages of Rock,” co-produced with VH1, is the latest rockumentary made by BBC Bristol and follows earlier programs “Dancing in the Streets,” “Soul Deep,” “Walk on By — the Story of Popular Song” and “Lost Highway — The Story of Country Music.”