Film Link bows in Eastern England

Film support body includes Elstree, Leavesden studios

LONDON — A new independent body is being launched in January to replace U.K. regional screen agency Screen East, which went into liquidation in October.

Film Link, which is owned by the University of Hertfordshire group of companies, with support from Hertfordshire County Council, and Elstree and Leavesden Studios, will act as an introductory film commission for filmmakers interested in filming in the East of England.

The org will operate out of Elstree Studios, which is housing Warner Bros.’ “Sherlock Holmes 2,” and promises to promote locations, crew and biz in the East of England following the demise of Screen East, which went into administration (the U.K. equivalent of Chapter 11), amid allegations of the theft from its funding pot of £4 million ($6.3 million).

Launch of the body comes just after U.K. culture minister Ed Vaizey unveiled plans for the future of the Brit pic biz on Monday, when he revealed that the U.K.’s eight regional screen bodies would be unified under one umbrella, Creative England, with hubs in the North, Midlands and South.

“Film Link is an independent body bolted into the screen agency networks,” said Kerry Ixer, director of filming-related services for Film Link. “After the demise of Screen East, various parties wanted to salvage location service. Whilst Film Link has been established, we didn’t know what the new landscape was going to be in the U.K., so its birth is slightly outside the new set up.”

Ixer said that Film Link will work with the screen agency networks and in partnership with local councils to maximize the inward investment potential from film and television production.

“And we’ll be having conversations now with various CEOs of the remaining film agencies to see where Film Link sits and how it sits,” she said. “But we will be a service that supports filmmakers looking to base their projects in the East of England.”

Last year, some $59.7 million was spent on location filming in the region.

Roger Morris, managing director of Elstree Studios, who lobbied for the Screen East coin to remain in the region back in September, said the initiative “will secure the continued film-friendly face of the East of England area.”

In November, Warner Bros. finally closed the deal on its purchase of Leavesden Studios, where the “Harry Potter” franchise lensed for the past decade, which is located in Hertfordshire, some 20 miles North of London.