Film production studios are of course traditionally associated with the South of England, from Pinewood and its now-sister studio Shepperton - home of a multitude of movies from 2001: A Space Odyssey to the recent Guardians of the Galaxy - to Elstree in Surrey, where the original Star Wars films were made. For decades however, an increasing army of filmmakers in Yorkshire and the surrounding areas have dreamed of a production house where they could shoot and produce their films.
Established three years ago and renovated from the site of the famous ARTTS International Film School, Green Screen Studios, in Bubwith near York, offers a complete production package from set building & green screen studio space to cast & crew accommodation and post production facilities.
Green Screen Productions’ most high-profile film to date has been The Knife That Killed Me, made for a seven-figure - but still modest by Hollywood standards - budget in association with Universal Studios. The film was released in cinemas this month as a multiplatform premiere, to be shown at City Screen York on 27 July.
We arrived at the studio on the final day of shooting for the claustrophobic thriller Awaiting, directed by Mark Murphy and starring Gladiator, Doctor Who and Thor star Tony Curran. The physical sets built at the studios consisted of a series of shabby rooms and corridors smeared with blood and grime, fitting to Awaiting’s subject matter.
"If you’d gone down to the basement set yesterday," hints the studio’s Kit Monkman, who also co-directed The Knife That Killed Me, "you’d have seen shelves full of body parts, which looked creepily realistic." The sets are in direct stylistic opposition to The Knife That Killed Me’s entirely green screen-based shoot, for which all the sets were created digitally in post production.
"That was all shot in this one room," says Kit as he flicks the lights on in the smallish room bedecked in green paint. Strolling around the sets and offices at Green Screen Productions is a filmmaker’s dream. From rehearsal space and prop storage to desks full of Macs and a darkened edit suite in which the editors slaved away cutting the footage that had been shot over the preceding six weeks, the studios are the closest the North currently has to a full film production house.
With six features so far under their belts, including 2013’s psychological thriller Dementamania and forthcoming 2015 drama Bliss!, Green Screen have started a solid line of the production of healthily-budgeted thrillers, dramas and horror that will be shown internationally over the next few years. With this strong set of movies out of the starting gate, it’s clear that Green Screen Studios has already established itself as the centre of filmmaking in Yorkshire.