Written by Murray Ashton on Feb 15, 2012. Posted in Interviews

Filming on the Isle of Man with Hilary Dugdale

Hilary manages Isle of Man Film, a regional Government agency. She is tasked with encouraging film production, training and promotion of the industry on the Island in partnership with leading UK producer and distributor CinemaNX. Local film production is financed by the Isle of Man Media Development fund.

"I was born and raised on the Isle of Man and has been involved with the film industry since Isle of Man Film was created in 1994. Isle of Man Film have made almost 100 feature films and TV programmes, all of which have been totally or partially filmed on the Island.

"The scouting and managing of locations in the Isle of Man is often handled by talented local freelancers like Sian Sutherland, who has over 30 credits on her CV."

On other occasions UK or international Location Managers will arrive with a production, in which case the Isle of Man Film may offer additional support and advice.

What does the Isle of Man offer filmmakers?

We’re situated in the Irish Sea and the Island itself is about 30 miles long by 12 miles wide. It’s roughly equidistant from Dublin and Liverpool, and culturally we’re a Celtic/British mix. We’re a self-governing Crown dependency with our own version of sterling currency (in parity with the UK) and our own Parliament, but to the uninitiated we’re English-speaking and very much part of the British Isles.

We enjoy beautiful rural landscapes, farms and plantations, plus a wide variety of coastlines. We’ve got rural villages, urban towns and typical British suburbs. Architecture here ranges from Celtic cottages and Viking castles to Victorian terraces and modern, regenerated harbours. Our modern industries (finance, telecommunications and e-gaming) have led to construction of modern office space and leisure facilities (restaurants and bars).

As we’ve been making films for over 15 years we have a strong infrastructure already in place here. There is a core framework of local crew and service providers who work again and again on visiting productions, plus enthusiastic individuals keen to fill the unskilled roles to get experience of the production process.

What locations are most commonly used by film and TV crews?

We have two well equipped soundstages. Our coastal villages and many plantations also get used frequently. Across the Island there are many private large estates and farms with film-friendly owners so they get used a lot too.

What are the rare, more unusual locations?

We have some unusual industrial spaces. Our local Energy-From-Waste plant served as Darius Sayle’s lair in Stormbreaker (2005), whilst the capital Douglas has an old Victorian prison empty just now.

What types of production do you work on most?

Our primary focus has always been UK independent feature films, though we’ve had some great TV drama produced here too (most recently The Shadow Line for the BBC). We’re very proud of homegrown feature documentary TT3D: Closer to the Edge, which is becoming an international hit. Other recent successes are live actioners The Disappearance of Alice Creed, Albatross and our Oscar-nominated animation Chico & Rita.

Are there any particular tips that you would like to share about filming here?

Weather changes very quickly here, but I cannot recall any shoot being overly-hindered by the conditions. Four seasons in one day! It doesn’t always snow in winter here and rainfall is perhaps a little heavier than the UK average. Temperatures are usually fairly mild.

We have excellent, modern and free healthcare here so don’t worry if you get a tooth infection or pull your back! Our social values and etiquettes are pretty much identical to that of mainland Britain. Life on the Island is laid-back, tolerant and friendly so crew always enjoy their stay.

The Island has got great coastlines and landscapes, footpaths and glens.

While planning pre-production it is important to factor in a little extra time to import certain items that won’t be sourced locally, such as consumables, camera/lighting gear, specialist props or materials. However, more general materials such as timber or electrical generators are readily available here.

We can work with you to deal with any issue surrounding work permits or visas, all of which can all be handled in advance of your visit.

Which are the best airports to use to film in your region and who flies there?

The Isle of Man has one airport, Ronaldsway, on the south of the Island. A great advantage is the maximum travel time of 40 mins from anywhere to anywhere here. I recall a Production Designer recently telling me it took him less time to commute to set in the Isle of Man from his home in London than some sets on the other side of the city!

You can fly from Gatwick and Luton. London City Airport is my personal favourite for ease and speed. All other major UK cities in Scotland and Wales, and also in Ireland, are serviced from the Island too.

For freight, the Island’s operator is the Steam Packet company, which is very experienced in dealing with production freight and will guide you through the booking process.

What are the most film-crew-friendly hotels and what is your favourite wrap party venue?

The capital, Douglas, has a large number of hotels and guest houses to suit every budget, whilst across the Island you can find secluded holiday homes, apartments and cottages. I don’t have a particular favourite venue for wrap parties, but there are plenty of great bars and clubs to choose from.

What would you recommend crew and cast do to relax?

The Island has got great coastlines and landscapes, footpaths and glens. There are tons of outdoor activities to do – hiking, kayaking, abseiling, diving, fishing, motocross, mountain biking. There are also some great trails to complete.

Or if you just want to relax you can try some of the great restaurants and bars - many of which serve freshly caught seafood - or sample real ales from the many freehouses dotted around. We’re small but there are cinemas, a bowling alley and even a casino if you’re feeling lucky!

Thank you.

Click here to contact Hilary.

Images courtesy of Ron Strathdee & Isle of Man Film.

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