Behind the scenes at the office that makes Sussex the star of film and TV

Sussex has provided the backdrop to many films.

Thursday, 11th November 2021, 8:57 am
Updated Thursday, 11th November 2021, 9:00 am

From period dramas such as Emma and Downton Abbey to comic book adaptations Venom: Let There Be Carnage and Wonder Woman.

But have you ever wondered how the location managers managed to film in the perfect spot in the county rather than another part of the UK?

Kelly Mikulla is managing director of Sussex Film Office, which was set up in January 2016 to promote the county as a film friendly region.

Filming a Twinings Tea advert in Sussex.

She said: “We had a large database of industry contacts and decided to showcase Sussex as a top filming location and streamline the processes with councils.”

The Sussex Film Office is a dedicated one stop shop for all production types and budgets in and around Sussex.

She added: “Our comprehensive range of services include a whole range of production support including location research and location sourcing, managing crew, cast and industry suppliers together with a liaison service for companies and individuals planning and undertaking filming or photoshoots in the area.”

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Filming near Beachy Head

Based in Arundel, Kelly and her team have worked closely with more than 800 productions, including commercials, top fashion shoots, micro projects and major feature films.

It has generated more than £8million for local councils, businesses and the community, making Sussex one of the top locations for filming outside of London.

The list of films and programmes the team have worked on and brought to Sussex includes many favourites you will recognise, including BBC’s The Repair Shop which is filmed at the Weald and Downland museum near Chichester, The Bake Off – Crème de la Crème at Firle Place near Lewes, as well as Peter James’ Grace filmed in and around Brighton and Netflix’s The Crown which saw Helena Bonham Carter play Princess Margaret in Rye.

In 2022 you may recognise some familiar places in My Policeman starring Harry Style, Danny Boyle’s Sex Pistols biopic ‘Pistols’, Netflix’s Anatomy of Scandal starring Sienna Miller, Amazon Prime’s Living starring Bill Nighy and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.

They have also helped with locations for commercials from HSBC to Purple Bricks, music videos and fashion shoots for the likes of Vogue, Alexander McQueen and Harrods.

One of the reasons for its popularity Kelly says it because of the variety of locations and its proximity to London.

Katie Seeley, production coordinator, said: “Film makers saw what Sussex had to offer during the peak of the pandemic and switched from overseas locations to Sussex because of the cost and logistics of getting all of the crew outside of the UK.

“Filmmakers realised what they had on their door step, such as the Harry Style Vogue cover, usually filmed in the Caribbean, shot at Seven Sisters.”

Kelly added: “Sussex Film Office has created a totally film friendly place to shoot – exceeding our clients expectations by finding better locations with less effort for them so that they can focus on their creative skills, leaving us to organise everything else behind the scenes.”

Another reason for the county’s popularity is its unparalleled range of filming locations.

Katie said: “These range from its distinctive architecture to its landscapes with not a building in sight.

“We have numerous quintessential thatched cottages, opulent stately homes, working farms, fully functioning windmills, old Roman palaces and even older castles. In addition to the range of buildings, the film friendly landscapes include the obvious rolling hills and chalk meadows leading to the dramatic coastlines of the South Downs to historic harbours and breath-taking beaches.

“This is why film makers are choosing Sussex as a world class filming location and we have seen year on year 75 per cent growth in revenues.”

The most popular locations they have found are:

- Seven Sisters Country Park – Chalk cliffs, landscapes, Ox-bow river

- Eastbourne Seafront – large prom, pier, traditional seaside town

- Brighton - streets, squares, Pavilion, seafront

- Shoreham Beach – board walk

- Worthing – large prom, traditional seaside town.

Kelly said: “Filming making is fast paced and time is of the essence. This requires a lot of hard work and planning in detail. The logistics of creating a production can get complicated and very time consuming.

“However, it’s so rewarding fulfilling a request, helping on a production and seeing the final results.”

But it isn’t just the seafront, countryside or tourist hot spots that are needed for filming.

For some productions they also need family homes.

Kelly said: “We don’t just need large houses, architecturally designed etc.

“We have a shortage of unmodernised detached and semi-detached houses, flats and derelict buildings.

“We’ve made it really easy to list a location with us. Either send images and details to [email protected] or complete this form fame-pro.com/location/add/sussexfilmoffice

“If you are interested in filming in Sussex or registering your property with us please email [email protected] and we will make it really easy for you to register and help you on your way.”

Who knows the next time you go to the cinema you could see your home or local beach on the big screen.

For more information, visit sussexfilmoffice.co.uk