Our brilliant Birmingham has cemented itself as a thriving new hub for filmmakers.
Brum’s very own Steven Knight and his headline-grabbing Peaky Blinders have helped to catapult our city across the globe and into the minds of all story tellers and lovers of top-notch TV. Moreover, following the phenomenal success of ‘Peaky’, Knight is also planning to build a new film studio here. That’s the view from the outside, but what about the underside and inside of our midlands home? Here are 5 things you should know as a Screen and Film School student in Birmingham:
Steven Spielberg – the one and only – used Digbeth as his choice location for his 2018 Sci-Fi Hollywood smash Ready Player One.
Walk down Floodgate Street today and you could be stepping into the film set itself – Spielberg’s vision for the finished piece was to stay true to the location. If Sci-Fi isn’t your thing, perhaps you could explore The Black Country Living Museum in Dudley, where Thomas Shelby and his loveable family of rogues were brought to life for the first time. Gritty, hard-hitting drama is achievable in our city too. Always keep your camera and pen to hand when you’re in our cinematic streets – you could be the future Steven (Knight or Spielberg.)
Birmingham is known as the UK’s second city – by most traditional measures – and the creative renaissance, as well as the large planned investment we are about to experience, will help to secure that title for many more years to come.
The second city title relates to scale, and scale for filmmakers translates to large scope for ideas, huge numbers of potential collaborators and of course, endless potential filming locations. You may fall for the graffiti landscape that is urban Digbeth, or perhaps the classy, bespoke bars of the Jewellery Quarter, the corporate world on Colmore Row or the retail heaven that makes up the world-famous Bullring. We can do subtle and romantic too: should you prefer a canal walk, followed by a picnic in the park, the second city can accommodate that with its cluster of green spaces.
We’ve discussed the parks and the pavements, what about our people?
Birmingham is a hotbed for human stories, with real-life dramas playing out on every corner and behind every door. We may be behind London in terms of size, but Birmingham holds the accolade for being the most diverse city in Britain. That is all down to the cultural mix of our people. There are endless tales to tell and unfolding stories that will inspire. Take note, budding documentary makers!
Being in the heart of the city centre, as Screen and Film School Birmingham is, means that students will have industry right on their doorstep.
Not only is our Digbeth home a mecca for great local amenities and life, but we are also close to potential employers. Every student as they enter their second year will have the opportunity to undertake work placement with any one of several local companies. Our industry partners include Early Day Films, Optomen and North One, to name but a few. Furthermore, being situated in the heart of the country means that students are only ever a short trip away from other major UK cities – as we’re so well connected – should you find your filmmaking career requires you to work further afield.
Finally, and perhaps most crucially, it is imperative you take your camera everywhere!
The locations, the people, and the aura of Birmingham make it well and truly cinematic. Gone are the days of tough industry and coal dust, incoming is an era of creative explosion. Big city living sits side by side with country suburbs. Secrets and hidden gems are all around if you’re open to finding them. Always keep a keen eye and a camera with you, and document how this exciting metamorphosis of our city evolves alongside your own personal filmmaking journey.