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January 2020

On the location for the filming of "Thank You for Smoking", Jason Reitman, director, held by James Whitaker, director of photography, center, and Ted Ayd, gaffer, films a scene from atop the Hyatt Regency, where Reitman films the street and his foot by leaning over the side with a camera.

Record spend for 2019 UK production

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Official figures published the Research and Statistics Unit of the BFI, the UK’s lead organisation for film, television and the moving image, reveal the highest spend ever on film and high-end television production in the UK in 2019. This includes high levels of international production investment underlining the UK’s global reputation as the world-leading centre for film and TV production, sustained strong admissions and box office for film in the cinema and box office growth in the market share for independent UK films.

Cinema audiences flocked to see a combination of blockbuster films led by Avengers: Endgame and The Lion King to independent UK films such as Downton AbbeyThe Favourite and Yesterday, generating a strong year at the UK and Republic of Ireland box office.

The market share of independent UK films at the box office in 2019 was 13 per cent, an increase from 11.7 per cent in 2018. When UK-made, studio-backed films are added to the picture, eg Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Aladdin, Dumbo and Rocketman, the full UK market share increases to 46 per cent, the highest since records began.

Collectively, films released in 2019 attracted 176 million admissions, a minimal 0.6 per cent decrease on 2018, but still the second biggest year by admissions for 49 years. Total box office revenue for all films released was £1.254 billion, just 2 per cent down on last year.

The spend on high-end television and film production in the UK in 2019 reached £3.62 billion (€4.28bn), a 16 per cent increase on 2018. This is the highest year on record, showing the UK to be the world’s busiest production hub and demonstrating the continued world-class excellence of UK talent, crews, VFX and production services, locations, the supportive fiscal environment created by the UK’s creative sector tax reliefs and the work of the British Film Commission with international producers. These factors play a vital role in attracting inward investment to the UK, and benefitting the UK film economy with 2019 inward investment across film and high television topping £3 billion for the first time.

Film co-production in the UK also saw a 37 per cent uplift in spend with £34 million across 23 productions generated by films including Phyllida Lloyd’s Herself, Viggo Mortensen’s Falling, Brandon Cronenberg’s Possessor, Uberto Pasolini’s Nowhere Special, Ben Lewin’s Falling For Figaro, James D’Arcy’s Made In Italy, Florian Zeller’s The Father, Liam O’Donnell’s Skylines and Lina Roessler’s Best Sellers.

Inward investment production comes to the UK from a number of different countries. The inward investment data also reveals a notable influx of 29 Indian productions being made in the UK with a collective spend of £112 million, including Mysskin’s Thupparivaalan 2, Amarjit Singh’s Jhalle, Sharan Art’s Galwakdi and Amrit Raj Chadha’s Parauhneya Nu Dafa Karo.

Domestic film and high-end television production generated a production spend of £546.4 million, a decrease of 28 per cent from 2018. Within this figure, domestic film showed a greater drop in spend with £174.7 million, reflecting a decrease of 45 per cent and demonstrating a shifting industry eco-system for domestic production. However, this picture doesn’t reflect the fact that films being made by home-grown are attracting international finance and are therefore classified inward investment, e.g., Sam Mendes’s 1917 and Andy Serkis’s Venom 2. For domestic high-end television production, the spend of £371.7 million represented a decrease of 14 per cent on 2018.

Films made in the UK in 2019 for release in 2020/2021 includes inward investment films such as Cary Joji Fukanaga’s No Time To Die, Cate Shortland’s Black Widow, Sam Mendes’s 1917, Craig Gillespie’s Cruella, Antoine Fuqua’s Infinite, Andy Serkis’s Venom 2, George Clooney’s Good Morning, Midnight, Tim Story’s Tom and Jerry, Daniel Espinosa’s Mobius, Robert Zemeckis’s The Witches, Chloe Zhao’s The Eternals, Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, Will Sharpe’s Louis Wain, Danis Tanovic’s The Postcard Killings, John Madden’s Operation Mincemeat and Tanya Wexler’s Jolt.

Domestic UK (independent) productions included Francis Lee’s Ammonite, Euros Lyn’s Dream Horse, Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir 2, Kevin Macdonald’s Prisoner 760, Clio Barnard’s Ali & Ava, Barnaby Thompson’s Pixie, Josie Rourke’s This Nan’s Life, Andrew ‘Rapman’ Onwubolu’s Blue Story, Aleem Khan’s After Love, Peter Jackson’s Jamboree Jam, Peter Middleton and James Spinney’s Chasing Chaplin, Aneil Karia’s Surge, Charles Martin Smith’s A Gift From Bob, Edgar Wright’s Last Night In Soho and Autumn de Wilde’s Emma.

The growth in volume of high-end television productions in 2019 included inward investment and co-productions such as Jon East’s Cursed, Gina Prince-Bythewood’s The Old Guard, The Crown (series 4), Lenny Abrahamson’s Normal People, Andrew Haigh’s The North Water, Michaela Coel’s Jan 22nd, Armando Iannucci’s Avenue 5, Lena Dunham’s Industry, Tom Hooper’s His Dark Materials (series 2), David Moore’s Outlander (series 5), Owen Harris’s Brave New World, Ben Wheatley’s Rebecca, Charlotte Bruus Christensen’s Black Narcissus, Tom Shankland’s The Serpent, Julie Ann Robinson’s Bridgetron, The Spanish Princess (season 2) and The End of the F***ing World (series 2).

Domestic high-end television productions included Aisling Walsh’s Elizabeth is Missing, Mira Nair’s A Suitable Boy, Hans Herbots’ Cobra, Christine Gernon’s Gavin & Stacey Christmas Special, Penny Woolcock’s Ackley Bridge (series 3), Claire McCarthy Domina, Chloe Thomas’s The Deceived, John Strickland’s Line of Duty (series 5), Stewart Svaasand’s Tin Star (series 3), John Strickland’s Line of Duty (series 5), Claire McCarthy’s Domina, Robert Quinn’s The Bay (series 2), Rebecca Gatward and Mary Nighy’s Traces, Mackenzie Crook’s Worzel Gummidge, Lynsey Miller’s Deadwater Fell and Kieron Hawkes’s Intergalactic.

Film and high-end television production generates local business activity and jobs: Dream Horse (south Wales); In Sickness, A Discovery of Witches, Brave New World, Industry (Wales); 1917 (Glasgow, south-west England); She Will, ShepherdShiddatWise BloodYear of the Rabbit (Scotland), No Time To Die (Highlands, south-west England); The Nest (Glasgow); Deadwater Fell (Ayrshire); PixieHere BeforeNowhere SpecialBlack MedicineThe Deceived (Northern Ireland); SanditionWar of the WorldsThe Spanish Princess (south-west England); The Crown, Eurovision, His Dark Materials, Good Morning, Midnight, Honour (south-east England); SupernovaWorld on Fire, Cobra (north-west England); Fast & Furious 9, Black Widow (south-east England); Cruella, Grantchester (east of England); Enola Holmes, Galwakdi, Good Luck Jatta, Hello Jindagi (West Midlands); Intergalactic (East Midlands); Censor (Leeds); Ali and Ava, All Creatures Great And Small, The English Game, (Bradford); Pagalpanti, The English Game (Skipton); Everyone’s Talking About Jamie (Sheffield, Barnsley, Rotherham); The Souvenir 2 (Norfolk); Ammonite (Dorset, London); Sweetheart (Dorset); and After Love (Kent, London) are just a few examples.

“These latest figures show that our world-leading screen industries continue to thrive, attracting audiences all around the globe,” noted Nigel Adams, Minister for Creative Industries. “The increase in inward investment reflects the UK’s acclaimed reputation as a home for fantastic talent and creativity in our film and television sectors.”

“Today’s figures show an incredibly vibrant picture, a sector that continues to grow, delivering billions to the economy and a wide spectrum of jobs all over the UK,” added Amanda Nevill CBE, CEO of the BFI. It’s great to see some of our greatest home-grown talent making big international pictures such as 1917. It also underlines the importance of ensuring that the independent sector, the lifeblood for this growing success, is properly supported.”

“Film and high-end TV are big business, indeed we are the fastest growing sector in the economy, and today’s record breaking figures show the UK continuing to meet the growing demand for content, studio space and world-class skills, talent and technical expertise,” commented Adrian Wootton OBE, Chief Executive of the British Film Commission and Film London. “It’s vital we continue to nurture and champion the exceptional talent across our screen industries; the BFC working together with our public and private partners across the UK to seize the growth opportunities for nations and regions, putting inclusivity and sustainability at the heart of everything we do.”


Film production in 2019

The year saw 188 feature films go into production with an interim total spend of £1.951 billion, a 6 per cent increase on the previous year and the second highest recorded level of production spend. Consolidated volume and spend figures for 2019 will be published later this year as production reporting is updated.

Of the 188 films which went into production in 2019, 94 were domestic UK films with a total interim spend of £174.7 million, representing a 46 per cent decrease in the number of films and 45 per cent decrease in spend from £318.7 million last year. Independently produced domestic titles in 2019 included Francis Lee’s Ammonite, Euros Lyn’s Dream Horse, Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir 2, Kevin Macdonald’s Prisoner 760, Clio Barnard’s Ali & Ava, Barnaby Thompson’s Pixie, Andrew ‘Rapman’ Onwubolu’s Blue Story, Josie Rourke’s This Nan’s Life, Aleem Khan’s After Love, Philippe Martinez’s Shooting Paul, Peter Jackson’s Jamboree Jam, Gillies MacKinnon’s The Last Bus, Peter Middleton and James Spinney’s Chasing Chaplin, Aneil Karia’s Surge, Charles Martin Smith’s A Gift From Bob, Edgar Wright’s Last Night In Soho and Autumn de Wilde’s Emma.

2019 saw £1.742 billion being spent by 71 major inward investment films on production in the UK, supported by the British Film Commission, a significant uplift of 17 per cent on the previous year’s spend, and accounting for 89 per cent of the total spend on film production in the UK over the year. 21 studio-backed films accounted for 71 per cent of the total spend on all production.

Inward investment films made in the UK during 2018 include Sam Mendes’s 1917, Cary Joji Fukanaga’s No Time To Die, Cate Shortland’s Black Widow, Antoine Fuqua’s Infinite, Craig Gillespie’s Cruella, Andy Serkis’s Venom 2, George Clooney’s Good Morning, Midnight, Tim Story’s Tom and Jerry, Daniel Espinosa’s Mobius, Robert Zemeckis’s The Witches, Chloe Zhao’s The Eternals, Guy Ritchie’s Cash Truck, Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, Kenneth Branagh’s Death on the Nile, Will Sharpe’s Louis Wain, Danis Tanovic’s The Postcard Killings, Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsman; The Great Game, John Madden’s Operation Mincemeat and Tanya Wexler’s Jolt.

The inward investment data also reveals a notable influx of 29 Indian productions being made in the UK with a collective spend of £103.3 million including Mysskin’s Thupparivaalan 2, Amarjit Singh’s Jhalle, Sharan Art’s Galwakdi and Amrit Raj Chadha’s Parauhneya Nu Dafa Karo.

There were 23 UK co-productions going into production in 2018 with spend of £34.2 million compared to the interim spend in 2018 of £25.0 million. Co-productions included Phyllida Lloyd’s Herself, Viggo Mortensen’s Falling, Brandon Cronenberg’s Possessor, Uberto Pasolini’s Nowhere Special, Ben Lewin’s Falling For Figaro, James D’Arcy’s Made In Italy, Florian Zeller’s The Father, Liam O’Donnell’s Skylines and Lina Roessler’s Best Sellers.

High-end TV production in 2019

2019 has seen a significant boost in high-end television productions made in the UK with an interim spend of £1.665 billion across 123 productions; an increase of 29 per cent on 2018’s consolidated spend of £1.287 billion and also the highest level of spend since the introduction of tax relief.

Of the 123 high-end TV titles, 49 were domestic UK productions with spend of £371.1 million, a 14 per cent increase from the consolidated spend of £433.3 million in 2017. Domestic UK high-end TV titles include Aisling Walsh’s Elizabeth is Missing, Christine Gernon’s Gavin & Stacey Christmas Special, Richard Laxton’s Honour, Juliet May’s Motherland (series 2), Mackenzie Crook’s Worzel Gummidge, Emma Fraser’s Eden, Stella Corradi’s Sitting In Limbo, Chloe Thomas’s The Deceived, Robbie McKillop’s Guilt, Mira Nair’s A Suitable Boy, Lynsey Miller’s Deadwater Fell, Rebecca Gatward and Mary Nighy’s Traces, Andy de Emmony’s The Nest, Penny Woolcock’s Ackley Bridge (series 3), Claire McCarthy Domina, John Strickland’s Line of Duty (series 5), Hans Herbots’ Cobra, Farren Blackburn’s A Discovery of Witches and Kieron Hawkes’s Intergalactic.

The 74 inward investment and co-production high-end TV productions crashed through the £1 billion marker with an interim spend of £1.293 billion, a record spend and an increase of 51 per cent on 2018. High-end international TV productions made in the UK last year include Jon East’s Cursed, Gina Prince-Bythewood’s The Old Guard, The Crown (series 4), Lenny Abrahamson’s Normal People, Andrew Haigh’s The North Water, Armando Iannucci’s Avenue 5, Tom Hooper’s His Dark Materials (series 2),Terry McDonagh’s Killing Eve (series3), Outlander (series 5), Nick Murphy’s A Christmas Carol, Ben Wheatley’s Rebecca, Lena Dunham’s Industry, Michaela Coel’s Jan 22nd, Charlotte Bruus Christensen’s Black Narcissus, Owen Harris’s Brave New World, Julie Ann Robinson’s Bridgetron, Joss Whedon’s The Nevers, David Dobkin’s Eurovision, The Spanish Princess (season 2) and Lucy Forbes and Destiny Ekaragha’s The End of the F***ing World (series 2).

Animation television programme production in 2019

At the time of reporting, 23 animation television programmes went into production in the UK in 2019, with a spend of £39.3 million. Of these, 16 were domestic UK productions and seven were inward investment or co-productions. However, there is a significant time-lag with animation data with fuller reporting later this year.

Animation programmes that went into production in 2018 include Pinkalicious & Pteriffic (series 2), Bear Grylls Young AdventuresAlva and the TrollsLove Monster and Dog Loves Books.

The UK spend and number of productions data reported are treated as interim results and are consolidated later in the year as final reporting is received.

Box office in 2019

The total box office for all films released was £1.254 billion, just 2 per cent down on last year. Leading the box office was Avengers: Endgame, which took over £88.7 million, followed by The Lion King (£76.0 million), Toy Story 4 (£66.2 million), Joker (£58.0 million) and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (£54.9 million). Ten of the year’s top 20 performing films at the UK box office were UK/USA productions being made in the UK (including Last Christmas which was developed with BFI National Lottery funding) using the UK’s facilities, talent, crew and locations, again demonstrating the strength of the UK as a global production hub, making films that export worldwide.

The top grossing UK qualifying independent films were Downton AbbeyThe Favourite, Yesterday, Stan & Ollie and Mary Queen of Scots. The top 20 reflects the diversity of theme and story explored in independent filmmaking including strong and influential women (The FavouriteMary Queen of Scots, Colette); animation (Shaun The Sheep Movie: Farmageddon); contemporary life/coming of age (Blue Story, Fighting With My Family, Blinded By The Light); musical drama (Judy, Yesterday, Fisherman’s Friends, Wild Rose); political/espionage (Red Joan, Official Secrets); action adventure (Angel Has Fallen, The Kid Who Would Be King); and young audiences (Horrible Histories: The Movie – Rotten Romans). Two films – Stan & Ollie and Wild Rose – were produced by Fable Pictures and both played at the BFI London Film Festival.

The market share of independent UK films at the box office in 2019 was 13 per cent, an increase from 11.7 per cent in 2018. When UK-made, studio-backed films are added to the picture, eg Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Aladdin, Dumbo and Rocketman, the full UK market share increases to 46 per cent, the highest since records began.




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Birmingham sitcom ‘Man Like Mobeen’ beloved by Chris Morris, Charlie Brooker and Idris Elba

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‘Man Like Mobeen’ is the cult sitcom beloved of Chris Morris, Charlie Brooker and Idris Elba. Gary Ryan visits the show’s set in Birmingham to discover that it isn’t just one of the funniest sitcoms of recent times – it may also be one of the most important.

Inside a Birmingham food bank, actors Tez Ilyas and Dúaa Karim are playing Jenga with a tower of tins of baked beans. They’re here, among shelves groaning with donated pasta, cereal and pulses, filming scenes for the BBC Three sitcom Man Like Mobeen where their characters, Eight and Aks, volunteer. As rapid-fire punchlines fill the air during NME’s visit to the set for the filming of the show’s third season, the effect is akin to I, Daniel Blake – with added jokes.

Admittedly, this might not seem like the most obvious setting for a comedy, but ever since it debuted in 2017, the show has specialised in subverting preconceptions. It follows Mobeen, played by the show’s 34-year-old creator Guz Khan, as he tries to look after his mates Eight and Nate (played by Tolu Oguenfun) and be a good Muslim, all while attempting to escape his criminal past. It deftly juxtaposes riotously laugh-out-loud humour with serious subjects – such as teenage knife crime, racial profiling and the rise of the far right.

In one early episode, Mobeen is locked in a police van with a Tommy Robinson-style leader of an EDL-style hate group. “You’re getting yourself in knots, you daft bugger,” insists Mobeen. “I know plenty of Muslims and I can’t get them to commit to what time they’re going to Nando’s, let alone commit acts of terrorism.”

After an attack on Mobeen’s friends and threats against his sister saw the last series end on a dark cliff-hanger, season three – which has just dropped on BBC Three – finds him armed, dangerous and out for revenge, pulled into the world of crime lord Uncle Khan, played by veteran actor Art Malik, who clearly relishes the role. Tonally, it could be described as Only Fools and Horses meets Breaking Bad – a lightning-in-a-bottle sitcom that features flawed-but-loveable characters you enjoy hanging out with, while actually saying something about the world they inhabit.

Sitting in make-up (“Don’t tell NME readers how long this takes!”), Guz explains how he sought to make Man Like Mobeen as authentic as possible. “In the beginning, we did the pilot, and I was like ‘Meh, it’s kind of whack’. It was very generic, super-sitcomy, so when we came round to making the series, we wanted to make something more substantial,” he remembers.

“Look, anyone can make a generic sitcom, but we want it to present real issues and show how easy it is to fall back into this lifestyle,” he continues. “When you’re watching the news and you see someone who has been sentenced to 22 years in prison – yeah, they might deserve it, but you don’t see the backstory – what happened in order for them to get to that point.”

He continues: “So we’re essentially witnessing a family guy who’s trying to care the best for his little sister fall back into a life he’s worked so hard to get out of. We’re filming here at a food bank, so we’re still looking at issues that matter to Mobeen, but the theme is very much his downwards spiral. The deeper he gets into this mess, the harder it is to get out of. And unfortunately, with no spoilers, happy endings are quite rare in real life.” He turns to his PR, before hesitantly laughing: “Shit, am I allowed to say that?”

Five years ago, while working as a secondary school humanities teacher in Coventry, Guz started uploading YouTube videos as Mobeen. One was a hilarious riposte to egregious Fox News reports that Birmingham was “no go zone” for non-Muslims. They caught the attention of Steve Coogan’s Baby Cow production company, who invited him to make a BBC comedy short, before commissioning a full series.

If season three has a noticeable swagger, it’s justified. Big name fans of Man Like Mobeen include Black Mirror’s Charlie Brooker, Riz Ahmed, and Idris Elba – who Guz ended up working with on Netflix’s Turn Up Charlie. “Everybody thinks ‘World’s sexiest dude’”, says Guz of Idris. “And he walks into a room and you’re like: ‘Oh shit! The aura is mad!’ But he himself started off in a block of flats in east London living a very tough life, so the show reminds him of what life could have been like for him.”

Most impressive for Guz was when his comedy idol, Chris Morris – the genius behind Four Lions and Brass Eye – was so enamoured by the show, he requested to meet him. “I feel like I’m double showing off!” he laughs. “I grew up thinking: ‘Yo! He’s a bad motherfucker!’, and that he’d seen what we were doing and reached out meant the world. When we met, he was passionate about real-life issues. He spends time in Birmingham in tough areas. You think: here’s the legendary Chris Morris in Alum Rock enjoying a curry! That’s mad!”

But then the show has attracted a broader range of fans than Guz initially expected, including the “mandem in prison,” he exclaims. “First of all, I want to know how they get the wi-fi in there?” he laughs. “I’m like, ‘Bro, what kind of fibre optics did you drill in the side of the wall?! For me, the fact that they watch the show and laugh at it but also see elements where they go: ‘Oh shit, I made that mistake, that’s where it all went wrong for me’ is great.”

At the other end of the social spectrum, silver-spoon multimillionaires in Monmouth are also tuning in. “I didn’t even know where Monmouth was!” he splutters. They contact him saying: ‘I very much enjoyed your show and it’s excellent social commentary’. “I’m like: Big up you, Phillip!”

It’s a turnaround in perception from when they first started filming on the streets of Birmingham. Tez Ilyas, who plays the naïve Eight, recalls: “We had young people coming up to us going ‘Is this Citizen Khan?’ Because they didn’t want that filmed on the streets they lived on – because it didn’t reflect their experience.” He’s referring to the BBC’s divisive Adil Ray-devised sitcom about a Muslim community leader which – although it aired from 2012 to 2016 – Guz once rightly described as being as anachronistic as 1970s show On the Buses.

By the time the first episode had aired, those fears had been allayed. “Now they come up to us while we’re filming asking us to be in it!”, laughs Tez. “People have been so thankful to see a character that represents them on screen, played in a way that’s funny, real and not tokenistic – all those negative things that Citizen Khan might have been. It feels like we’re blazing a trail for people to come after us and take advantage of the space we’re opening up.”

People regularly tell Tez – a 36-year-old stand-up comedian perhaps best known for hosting Channel 4’s  The Tez O’Clock Show – that Eight is their favourite character. Aside from acting as the show’s dim Father Dougal McGuire (Father Ted)/Woody Boyd (Cheers) style marshmallow cushioning to some of the darker moments, Tez notes that he also acts as a window into a community some of the audience may not be familiar with. “He’s the dumb one who goes: ‘I don’t really get this. What’s going on?’ He asks the questions that people might have but are too embarrassed to ask. Through his naïve eyes, people can better understand.”

All involved feel they’re making something special. Co-writer Andy Milligan, gagsmith for Ant and Dec on I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!, says: “Until very recently, it was rare to see a Muslim man in his thirties on television without him wearing a suicide vest. Apart from being funny, I think the show gives a voice to a community that has been traditionally under-served on British television in general or worse, have been misrepresented.”

However, Mobeen isn’t an airbrushed ambassador for all Muslims. “I have a running joke where I say to Guz: ‘Can you tell me what every Muslim thinks about this issue?’,” laughs Andy. “Because there isn’t a tonne of shows doing what we do, there’s a tendency to say: ‘this show captures the modern Muslim experience’ and it no more does that than Mrs Brown’s Boys captures the old Irish woman experience.”

Even so, when Tez watches the show back “as a fan”, he can’t help but think: “I wish I had something like this when I was 18 years old.” Growing up, neither he nor Guz saw themselves represented on television. “It wasn’t until Goodness Gracious Me came along in 1998 that I thought: ‘Wow, people out there might find people like me funny’. That was ground-breaking and trailblazing but we had to wait a long time after that to actually be given a good opportunity.”

Ask Guz why it’s taken so long for shows like Man Like Mobeen to come along and one of the reasons he cites is commissioning cowardice. “It’s a question of: ‘How marketable is this?’ When you say ‘I want to make an episode where I’m in the back of a van with a far-right leader, that’s a difficult sell. The BBC were very much against me putting the Tommy Robinson character in series one – and we fought for it.” Keen to open up opportunities behind the camera as well as in front of it, he set up a training scheme on series three for young working class Midlanders. “With a show like this, we all think it’s important to leave a legacy,” argues Guz.

Against a backdrop of rising Islamophobia – a YouGov survey for the anti-racism group Hope Not Hate found more than half of Tory party members believe Islam is a threat to “the British way of life” –  shows like Man Like Mobeen provide a hilarious counter-narrative. “It’s partly a show about Britain 2020 which is a horrible right-wing mess,” notes Andy. “In the age of Boris Johnson and Donald Trump, things have amplified since we first started the show. Minorities are the first people to be persecuted by – particularly right wing – figures of power and it’s important to have a strong kickback.” Perversely, the worse things get, the more material they have to spin into comedic gold. When society goes low, they raise their comedy bar higher.

Tez – whose stand-up has demystified Islam to a wider audience – quips: “I always say I don’t want to eradicate racism because then I’d have nothing to joke about, but if it could be about 4/10 that would be good. Not so much racism that I get punched in the face, but enough racism that the BBC still feels the need to put me on Mock the Week!”

The biggest compliment to Guz is that Man Like Mobeen is overturning people’s ingrained prejudices. “One lad who used to go on a lot of far-right marches told me he saw our silly little comedy and now he’s changed his mind and goes to meetings with people from different faiths and backgrounds in his local community.”

“So that shows to me that – even though these are polarised times – humour is fundamentally a tool to bring us together.”

‘Man Like Mobeen’ season three is available on BBC iPlayer now

Tez Ilyas will be touring his new stand-up show from September




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EE films 5G spot starring Bastille at Birmingham New Street Station

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A new spot promoting EE’s rollout of 5G across the UK saw the brand stage “The Worlds First 5G-powered AR performance” at Birmingham’s New Street Station. British band Bastille, who were also chosen to soundtrack John Lewis’ 2019 Christmas ad, put on the show which was streamed live to rail passengers in transport hubs across the UK.

360 cameras captured the performance which was layered over with augmented reality animations while being streamed perfectly in sync across the UK. Passengers at Birmingham New Street were encouraged to put on Nreal glasses to experience the AR effects, while across the UK mobile phones with an EE themed portal let people walk through and into the live music experience.

Film Birmingham, the city’s film & television office helped facilitate the shoot which took place in November. Sindy Campbell, Head of Film Birmingham says “as the location is run by Network Rail, the production company liaised with the station directly to use the station. Film Birmingham’s part was finding a suitable unit base, a local security firm, waste management, bus lane closure and sourcing and delivering 40 panels for heras fencing within 2 hours”.

According to recent estimates from the Office of Rail and Road, Birmingham New Street was the busiest station outside of London welcoming almost forty-eight million passengers in 2018/19, ranking fifth in the UK.

Campbell notes that “the production were concerned about the numbers of people using the station and showing up to see the band. We sourced a local security firm that had worked around the clock to ensure the location was secure and manage the crowds.  A bus lane closure was required for the cherry picker to gain access to the station. Film Birmingham facilitated this, liaising with all involved and co-ordinating the get in/out whilst ensuring public safety”.



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Nominate British Asian Film and Creative Talent in the ACTA Awards – Deadline March 20th

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Eastern Eye’s Arts Culture & Theatre Awards (ACTA) recognise British Asian talent in a wide range of disciplines, including literature, film, television, theatre, comedy, music, dance, visual arts and contribution to the creative industries in general.

According to the Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS), the creative sector’s worth rose from £94.8 billion in 2016 to £101.5 billion in 2018, and has grown at nearly twice the rate of the broader UK economy since 2010.

What is significant is that British Asian involvement in the arts is growing year on year, as we have seen with ACTA, which has certainly made a difference since it was launched in 2016. What is really important is that there should be week to week coverage of the sector, which is why Eastern Eye has now introduced a dedicated arts & culture section in the paper.

This is just a selection of the 2019 ACTA winners: Mandip Gill (assistant to Dr Who) for Eastern Eye People’s Choice Award, voted for by the public and Eastern Eye readers; Sudha Bhuchar and Kristine Landon-Smith for their outstanding contribution to the creative industry; Nitin Ganatra and Shobna Gulati for theatre; Vinay Patel for best scriptwriter; Ash Tandon for best TV actor; Paul Chowdhry for comedy; Indhu Rubasingham for best director; the Singh Twins for art; and so on.

In successive years, the V&A, Tate Modern, the Science Museum and The Queen’s Gallery in Buckingham Palace have also been recognised for their contributions to British Asian society at large.

Britain is extraordinarily rich in the creative industries and it has to be emphasised that the arts are for everyone. ACTA is a step in trying to achieve that goal. Eastern Eye aims through ACTA to give British Asian artists it full support.

Nominate your ideal awardees by March 20, 2020.




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BFI Flare x BAFTA Crew Mentoring Programme

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Are you an LGBTQ+ identified filmmaker looking to take the next step in your career?


The BFI Flare x BAFTA Crew Mentoring programme in partnership with BFI NETWORK returns for a sixth year, offering six emerging LGBTQ+ filmmakers an incredible opportunity to develop their industry knowledge and professional connections.

About the programme

BFI Flare x BAFTA Crew Mentoring is a partnership between BFI NETWORK, BFI Flare: London LGBTQ+ festival and BAFTA.

Since its launch in 2015, the programme has supported 29 LGBTQ+ filmmakers working towards their first feature or major broadcast / online commission. Selected participants are matched with a senior industry mentor, based on their individual needs and ambitions, alongside additional support from BAFTA on how to get the most out of the experience. This programme aims to strengthen professional networks, create new pathways to industry, and offer a space for discussion and better understanding of opportunities and challenges for LGBTQ+ filmmakers, both in the UK and the global marketplace.

The programme begins at BFI Flare: London LGBTQ+ Film Festival (18-29 March 2020), where selected filmmakers will participate in a series of exclusive sessions with senior industry professionals  and festival guests. Selected filmmakers are then paired with a mentor and meetings will be facilitated throughout 2020.

Applications are now open


At BFI Flare –

  • Industry Accreditation for BFI Flare: London LGBTQ+ Film Festival (18-29 March 2020), with access to Press & Industry Screenings, an Industry Programme exploring LGBTQ+ media production, networking opportunities and the Festival’s Digital Viewing Library
  • A bespoke programme of roundtables and in-conversation events with visiting filmmakers and senior industry figures
  • Invitation to the Opening Night film and reception on Wednesday 18 March 2020
  • The opportunity to include their short film on the BFI Flare Digital Viewing Library

Throughout the year –

  • 3-4 one-to-one meetings with their selected mentor
  • Industry Accreditation for the BFI London Film Festival (7-18 October 2020)
  • Access to BAFTAs year-round Learning and New Talent programme including BFI NETWORK x BAFTA Crew


To be eligible for this opportunity you must:

  • Have written, produced or directed a short film which has screened at a BAFTA-qualifying festival
  • Or, for writers only: have one piece of full-length theatre work performed professionally in the UK or one radio credit
  • Be working towards a debut feature film or television pilot/online commission
  • Be a UK resident

Please note: If your film has not screened at a BAFTA-qualifying festival, but has screened at a number of recognised international film festivals, you are encouraged to apply.

Applications are now open




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ShortFuse logo

Submit Your Short Film to Film Birmingham’s ShortFuse Film Night

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Film Birmingham is open year-round for submissions to its ShortFuse film nights in 2020! West Midlands filmmakers have the chance to screen their short films at the Mockingbird Cinema and Kitchen to an audience of their peers and film enthusiasts.

ShortFuse is a bi-monthly event, aiming to engage with regional audiences and provide a platform for the work of emerging filmmakers. We are also proud to have premiered a number of regional films at our film night, and opened the floor to a number of award-winning filmmakers. We are accepting films of any genre from emerging or established filmmakers for our regional events in 2020.

Past ShortFuse Events

Past events at the Mockingbird Cinema showcased regional films, including the BAFTA-winning short 73 Cows, directed by Alex Lockwood, Sylvia, winner of the American Pavilion Emerging Filmmaker award at Cannes and award-winning Faith, by renowned stuntman Nick McKinless. Audience members are invited to participate in a Q&A with filmmakers following the screening and to network at a post-event mingle.

Filmmaker Adam Palmer, whose short film Answer was featured on ShortFuse’s opening night, said: “It’s great that ShortFuse offers a platform to showcase the work of filmmakers who sometimes get overlooked in the Midlands; it’s often London and elsewhere. There are some really great films screened as well. “If you have a short film, submit it. You get to watch it with an audience so you can gauge how your film is. A lot of the time you sit there one-on-one with your film. You don’t know how it’s going to be received so it’s good to be part of a community of filmmakers and film lovers.”

Attendee Lee Davis said: “When I saw the regional films, it made me feel like filmmaking is something I could do. I thought the range of the films was very varied, and it was good to hear from BAFTA-winners.”

To Submit

Please email with the following info:

All films must be under 30 minutes. If selected, you will then be asked to provide a hi-res version of your film.

Please email or call us at 0121 303 6089 for any further information.


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An Introduction to Working In The Locations Department – Film Birmingham Course

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UPDATE: Please note this course has moved online. See updated info here.


This film locations course is delivered by Film Birmingham and will run over 2 weekends. It is designed to inform, educate and give hands on skills to the next generation of aspiring film and TV Location Managers.

Dates:  March 21st-22nd and March 28th-29th, 2020

Location: Library of Birmingham

Time: 9:30am – 5:30pm

Course Leader: Harriet Lawrence

Course Fee: £100

An Introduction to Working in the Locations Department (WILD) will be led by top UK film and TV drama Location Manager Harriet Lawrence. Harriet has worked in location management for over 20 years and her impressive CV includes prime time TV shows Downton Abbey, Parks and Recreation and Dancing on the Edge and Hollywood movies The Personal History of David Copperfield, My Cousin RachelSuffragette and Burton and Taylor.

Outline of the WILD Film Locations course:

The locations department has a wide and varied remit within a production. It extends from the creative beginnings of a script breakdown, working alongside Directors and Designers and scouting locations, to the logistical and detailed planning of a shoot. It enables all other departments to go about their jobs as smoothly and safely as possible. This film locations course will cover what to expect in this challenging, yet rewarding work environment. It will also advise on potential routes into film and TV location management.

It will briefly look at an overview of the industry, the different types of productions and then move on to the exciting challenges of scouting, planning a shoot and managing all aspects of the shoot day. The sessions will also outline some of the essential principles of health and safety, touch on some of the many things included in the locations budget and give tips on how to take great location recce pictures. The first weekend will be classroom-based and the second will be putting into practice all that was learnt during the first weekend.

About Your Teachers

The WILD course will be led by award-winning locations manager Harriet Lawrence, who has worked in commercials, film and TV during her 30 years in the industry. She was also the 2016 recipient of the Production Guild Inspiration Award. Supporting the course will be BIFA- and BAFTA- winning production designer Cristina Casali, who gained a Best Production Design 2019 BIFA award for her work in The Personal History of David Copperfield. Supervising location manager Michael Grisewood has worked extensively throughout the West Midlands with award-winning series and films such as Doctors, Ray and Liz and Boy with the Topknot, and will offer a practical session to course participants.

How to apply to the WILD Film Locations Course

Film Birmingham welcomes applications from a broad range of participants; from new entrants with some production experience to those more established in the media industry. The course fee is £100 and there will be 3 subsidised places available for qualifying participants. We welcome applications from diverse backgrounds.

If you are interested in being considered for the course, please complete this form. Applications close Monday February, 24th.

For additional information, please email, with WILD Course in the subject.


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Apply for a ScreenSkills Industry Mentor! Deadline 31st January

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The ScreenSkills Mentoring Network runs across all sectors of the screen industry and across the UK. It is aimed at:

  • New entrants
  • Those who want to progress within or across the industry
  • Those who want to return after a break

Mentoring is a partnership where a more experienced mentor shares their knowledge and expertise with a less experienced mentee. The mentee is encouraged, challenged and supported by the mentor to learn and grow. If you are interested in becoming a mentor yourself please click here.

If you are interested in being part of the mentoring scheme as a mentee, we want to hear from you!
We run phased targeted intakes focusing on, for example, an under-represented group, a skills gap, stage of career etc. as identified by BFI and ScreenSkills research. These form part of the eligibility criteria as well as where mentoring can make the most impact and is the right activity for your development needs. Previous intakes of mentees have focussed on people from minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds, people returning to the screen industries after a break and those based in regions outside of London.

The deadline for applications for the next intake of mentees is 31 January 2020. We aim to start matching mentoring pairs from this intake in early February 2020.

We are however welcome to anyone registering interest in becoming a mentee at any time. We may not be able to match you straight away, but we will do our best to find a suitable match. Once you register your interest, we will send you communications relating to development and mentoring. Keep coming back here and sign up to our newsletter or follow us on Twitter or Facebook for the most up to date information.

Once you are matched you will be offered guidance and support to ensure you are able to get the best from mentoring. We will also ask you to sign a mentoring agreement and we will share with you the code of conduct.

How to apply

To register your interest, please follow the below two steps:

1. Create a ScreenSkills profile. Please follow this link to do so
2. Click the ‘Sign-Up to find a mentor’ button on this page to complete a short form in which you will be asked to upload a short video or written essay on why you would like to take part in mentoring and your passion for the screen industries

It is important that you tell us as much as possible about yourself when you register your interest and what you are looking from the mentoring partnership. The project runs to March 2022.

If you have any questions, please contact:




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BFI Doc Society Fund Webinar

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Thinking about applying to the BFI Doc Society Fund? Got some questions? Need a steer?

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! The BFI Doc Society team are on hand and online, looking forward to speaking with you, whatever stage you are at with a project. Get tips on how to apply, how the team evaluate submissions and what to expect once you’ve submitted a project.



Date: Thursday, 6th February 2020

Time: 13:00 – 14:00 [GMT]

Locations: This is a virtual discussion. Dial-in details will be emailed to you following registration.

Register here.


What will you learn?

We will be covering the following, but this is an interactive webinar so come prepared with your questions!

  • Who’s in the Room? – get to know the BFI Doc Society Fund team
  • Fund Overview: criteria, timelines, the vision
  • Application Process: dos, don’ts, tips
  • Evaluation and Decisions: How does the team evaluate projects?
  • What happens if you’re selected? Contracts, production process, timelines, legals
  • Support Programme: regional events, resources and other activities


About the BFI Doc Society Fund

Doc Society has been awarded up to £1m of National Lottery funds a year to provide funding for UK documentary films, along with a dedicated support programme for new and emerging filmmakers as part of BFI NETWORK. Working in partnership with the BFI, Doc Society will have a strong focus on deepening regional and national opportunities to enable talent UK-wide to tell transformational stories that maximise the potential of the genre. It will also employ a creative approach to reaching audiences that will reflect the rapidly evolving distribution space.

More info and to apply here.

Fund Guidelines: here

Feature Fund Open: 29th January 2020 (10:00am GMT)

Feature Fund Deadline: 26th February, 12:00pm GMT




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Apply for a Film Hub Midlands Bursary

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Film Hub Midlands members can apply for bursaries for travel and attendance at training and conferences.

The bursary scheme is designed to enable staff and volunteers of member organisations to enhance their professional development for the benefit of themselves, their organisation and the wider Hub network, with the ultimate aim of broadening audiences and boosting audience choice.

We offer up to £500.00 per bursary. As this is a rolling fund there is no deadline to apply, but you are advised to apply in four weeks advance of any event.Read our guidelines below and apply now, please ensure your organisation is a member of Film hub Midlands prior to applying. More info here.

Download Bursary guidelines here.

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