Danny Boyle's Yesterday: How Suffolk is the star of The Beatles themed film
As the new Suffolk-filmed movie Yesterday hits cinema screens this week, local democracy reporter Jason Noble caught up with Screen Suffolk to find out just how important it is for filming in the county.
Back in January last year, Screen Suffolk’s staff were buoyant – reflecting on a successful first year as the county’s official filming office.
Credited with bringing the likes of Ridley Scott and Benedict Cumberbatch to the rural jewel in the east, and smashing their 100 filming day target, they vowed it was 'just the beginning'.
But as the new Danny Boyle film Yesterday – with plenty of scenes filmed in Suffolk and Norfolk – is released across the UK this week, it seems that vow to put Suffolk on the film-making map is paying off.
By all accounts, the finished flick – which tells the story of a struggling singer/songwriter who becomes the only person on earth to remember The Beatles – is something of a love letter to Suffolk by writer Richard Curtis.
But perhaps most significantly, the film represents Screen Suffolk’s first project where it hasn’t just been a case of having the right facilities for filming, it’s utilising Suffolk’s unique character as a setting in its own right.
Rachel Aldridge, operations and business development manager at Screen Suffolk, said: “Even though some of it was filmed in Norfolk it is a Suffolk film, a Suffolk story, the guy’s from Suffolk.
“There was very little in the way of set-dressing, it’s present day.
“There were loads of local people, the extras were local people – that’s going to be really lovely for them to see.”
Jim Horsfield, operations and business development manager at Screen Suffolk added: “It was filmed all the way through the really hot period in the summer, so it’s going to look absolutely stunning.
“It’s going to bring tourism to the county when people see it.
“There was a shot at Latitude, so that’s a good boost for the festival, and they did a lot of drone shots as they are going to the festival, so again that’s going to be big sweeping landscapes in glorious weather.”
As well as the panoramic shots of the county, other prominent stops included Halesworth High Street, Shingle Street, Lowestoft and Dunwich – the location for star Lily James’ character Ellie’s cottage.
Screen Suffolk acts as a one-stop shop for filming in the county, working on everything from location scouts and filming permits, to securing local cast and crew, catering and accommodation.
Indeed, the ease of filming around the county has certainly impressed Richard Curtis.
“The great thing about Suffolk is that once you arrive here you are in a beautiful easily controllable environment,” he said.
“There’s so many lovely places and people, everybody’s happy and they don’t go off to their wild lives and distractions of London. If you’re making a move about England, you can find everything you want and more here.”
As well as nine days of filming in Suffolk, the production also shot and stayed in Norfolk, leading to plenty of pounds spent in the region’s economy.
An average spend per day figure of £11,500 – which doesn’t include accommodation – means that Suffolk’s economy will have benefitted by more than £100,000 from the production days alone. And there’s more.
Film tourism where diehard fans flock to visit the landmarks and locations used for filming is increasingly becoming big business, and Suffolk should benefit from that after the film has been released.
It’s already happened with Framlingham-set BBC series Detectorists, and Screen Suffolk is hopeful for more of the same.
Alongside its work securing the production itself, Screen Suffolk also organised work placements for local people looking to break into the industry.
Many of those have now gone on to work on other productions outside of Suffolk.
Emily Brighty, who worked as a location marshal, said: “It was such an amazing experience and I loved every moment. To be able to take part in such a big project and for it to be so close to home was a wonderful feeling.”
So for those who call Suffolk home, there is plenty to enjoy in Yesterday.
Whether it’s scenic shots of the rural east coast, or the knowledge that not only did such a big production choose to make Suffolk a primary port of call, but many of those behind the scenes be it location marshals or catering companies helped make it happen, take pride in knowing that the county is one step closer to being the destination of choice for future filming.
What the work experience group said
Alex Bird, location marshal, said: “Working on Yesterday was a life-changing experience for me. To be able to work locally on such a high profile project was a dream come true. Screen Suffolk gave me the stepping stone to work as a location marshal on the film and since then I’ve had the pleasure of working on 10+ feature films.“
Sophie Goss-Garnham, location marshal said: “I wanted to say a big thank you for the opportunity you gave me to work on the Danny Boyle/Richard Curtis film. Not only going to the wrap party and screening, which alone were enough, but having a credit on it also – pretty high up on the list! It’s a brilliant feel good funny film that’s highlighted some of the best bits of Suffolk and the local people.”
Kyle Buxton, location marshal said: “It’s been a bona fide dream-come-true. I would also like to say a massive thank you to Screen Suffolk for giving me access to this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It has meant the world to me, at a time when I really needed it.”
More by this authorJason Noble, Local Democracy Reporter