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Telling a Different Story: Hollywood on the Wear

MCKENNA, Mark (2024) Telling a Different Story: Hollywood on the Wear. In: ''Weddings and Funerals': UK Screen Industries in a Global Context, 1994-2024’,, 13-14 June 2024, The Centre for Converged Screen Media and Entertainment (COSME), Department of Communication and Media, University of Liverpool.

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On February 25th 2024, actor, singer and the newly appointed vice-president of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), Cynthia Erivo appeared on the Amber Ruffin show on NBC. In the interview, Erivo compared different British cities that she had visited and celebrated places like Liverpool and Manchester for their metropolitan sensibility, saying of Manchester that it’s “incredible because it feels like London”, but “then you go to Sunderland and you’re like, ‘Where the fuck am I?’ I don’t know where I am. This is not where I live.” In this brief moment, Erivo distilled the attitudes that have dogged the region historically and that have only become more entrenched since the EU referendum when the city became synonymous with ‘white, working class, leave-voting, men from Britain’s former industrial heartland’ (Morrison, 2022). This is a story that has persisted building on a historic north/south divide and the age-old prejudice that “it’s grim up north.” However, in November 2022, an opportunity to rewrite the national perception of the region came when a proposal to regenerate the existing mega-structures of Sunderland’s derelict shipyards was announced. In a swift process overseen by Sunderland City Council, permission for the change of use was granted and, when built, the facility will house the largest of only three under-water filming tanks across the UK. This is a development explicitly designed to capitalise on an association with the region’s coastal geography and this initiative was simply one aspect of a broader portfolio of work that is being coordinated and managed by Fulwell 73, a high-end television and film production company based in London and Los Angeles whose company’s founding partners have strong connections with the region. These developments led to the formation of a new North-East Screen Industries Partnership (NESIP), designed to capitalize on the opportunities that this newly established screen industries ecosystem might offer the region. Regional partners have committed to a £11.4m spend over a five-year period. After partnering with Cain International, Fulwell 73 secured the support of the influential Creative Artists Agency (CAA), and through this the link with Hollywood’s prestigious talent agency, have secured an investment from national government. This was confirmed on March 15th as £37 million alongside new powers that will give the Northeast Mayoral Combined Authority the power to unlock one of Europe’s largest filmmaking complexes, in Sunderland. Tracking these developments through a range of institutional and governmental reports, this paper seeks to explore what this means for a region long characterised as ‘left-behind’.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Faculty: School of Digital, Technologies and Arts > Film and Media
Event Title: ''Weddings and Funerals': UK Screen Industries in a Global Context, 1994-2024’,
Event Location: The Centre for Converged Screen Media and Entertainment (COSME), Department of Communication and Media, University of Liverpool
Event Dates: 13-14 June 2024
Depositing User: Mark MCKENNA
Date Deposited: 08 Jul 2024 10:20
Last Modified: 09 Jul 2024 04:30
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