Fulwell 73 boss has ambitions to supercharge North East film industry

Leo Pearlman, the co-founder of production company Fulwell 73, joined a host of stars from the North East at the Creative Cities Convention. Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

The man behind plans to supercharge the North East's film industry says he wants to create opportunities for young people from all backgrounds.

Leo Pearlman, the co-founder of Fulwell 73 - the company behind Netflix documentary series Sunderland 'til I Die - is also involved in plans to create one of the biggest film studios in Europe.

He joined a host of big names in the film and TV industry from the North East at a creative convention in Newcastle - including actor and presenter Robson Green, Dragon's Den entrepreneur Sara Davies, and Si King from the Hairy Bikers.

The event on 26 and 27 April was the first time the Creative Cities Convention, which focuses on creative content produced outside of London, was held in the city.

Key figures from the UK's creative sector gathered for Newcastle's first hosting of the Creative Cities Convention. Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

Mr Pearlman told ITV News Tyne Tees how important it is to bring events like this to the region. He said: "I believe very strongly that when young people in this region say to a parent or a teacher at the moment - I want to work in TV or film - they're often met with a response of 'why not look for a proper job'.

"What we're trying to do with Crown Works Studios is build a physical embodiment of that dream so that when a young person says to a parent or teacher 'I want to work in the film or TV industry' they can actually just point up the road and go - and that's where I'm going to work."

The North East is making a name for itself in the world of TV and film, with shows like ITV's Vera famously produced in the region, as well as Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland getting the spotlight in upcoming blockbuster Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.

TV detective Vera has become one of the North East's best known exports. Credit: 'Vera', ITVX

The momentum is expected to grow further after news in February that Mr's Pearlman's production company Fulwell 73 is planning to build studios on the banks of the River Wear in Sunderland.

TV star Robson Green, from Hexham in Northumberland, is feeling hopeful for the region's future. He said: "There is investment in the area and all these broadcasters and all these production companies know that and production companies are going to want to come here because of what's on offer.

"It's very, very cheap to film in the North East, it's a lot more expensive down south, the North East is very accessible in it permissions when you're filming but we have a great pool of talent they can look at when they're filming as well."

For the future creatives currently studying Film and TV Production at Northumbria University, change cannot come quick enough.

Final year student Nathan Goodison said: "The opportunities may not be here right now but they're definitely coming. You can see studios being built, production companies moving up north.

"These places are going to be searching for a lot of talent and a lot of people to bring up in these roles that they're bringing to the North East so it's a better time than ever to be a student up here."

While film crews and stars visiting the region often grabs people's attention, there is a wider benefit to investment which goes further than those directly in front or behind camera, according to industry leaders.

Alison Gwynn from North East Screen said: "The screen industry is a very complex industry and it's not all about creatives.

"Writer, producer, director, that's a bit like being a Premiership footballer, the tech and craft jobs, the hundreds of jobs that are available, whether that might be as an accountant, as a hairdresser as security or catering, the supply chain for our business is really, really brilliant."

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