All posts by isleofmanfilm

Media Activity Revs Up

2019 has had a positive start in terms of the Island’s media ambitions.

Digital Creation Isle of Man, the new funding to support media companies, was launched at the end of January to provide recoupable financial assistance to approved content production and related enterprises in this are such as TV and film, games and video, technology innovation and content distribution.

Animation and post production are key areas of interest for the Isle of Man’s new media sector.

For over 20 years, Manchester-based Flix Facilities has provided services to the industry across its numerous sites, and the Isle of Man will now be able to offer post production for the first time in its 107-film history. Flix kicks off its activity on the Island by producing a number of BBC-commissioned animation projects in its new studio.

Actiphons is another animation project that the Department for Enterprise is looking to support. The adaptation of existing teaching resources for children using phonics and sport takes a long-term view for the Isle of Man and in the production of its first episode, is about to start providing some professional experience for students at the new animation academy, The Studio at the Nunnery. The 12-week animation course commences next week.

Projects produced in recent years have also been released this month…

The last feature film made on the Island with Pinewood Studios, Where Hands Touch, opens nationwide in theatres on 10th May and the Villa Gaiety’s Broadway Cinema is screening the movie on the 11th and 12th to local audiences.

Room makeover series, Laurence of Suburbia, which was produced on the Isle of Man in partnership with Formatzone for Sky Vision, is now available on Amazon Prime. Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen will be promoting the series around the UK later this month.

There are exciting developments ahead of this year’s motorbike racing calendar with numerous broadcasting projects lined up for the coming months. American production company Pilgrim Media Group is investigating the potential for the TT in North America, while a major Bollywood project has declared its plans to shoot here “in the mecca of motorcycling”.

The Isle of Man’s national media agency, Isle of Media, continues its marketing and business development endeavours with an upcoming networking event in London this week, which follows a successful representation at last month’s MIPTV conference in Cannes.

Together, Isle of Media and the Digital Agency are working with various media companies to develop and support the creation of Island-relevant content to ensure that 2019 demonstrates a boost in media activity for the Isle of Man.

A new dawn for media on the Isle of Man

2018 has been a transitional year for Isle of Man Film.

Since the 1990s, the Isle of Man’s core proposition has been film. As the Isle of Man Film Commission and then Isle of Man Film, we’ve earned our reputation as a recognised co-producer of independent feature film.

Project number 107, Where Hands Touch, was the last movie to shoot on the Island. Written and directed by BAFTA-winner Amma Asante, the Pinewood production shot on location in the north of the Island in late 2016. The wartime drama stars Amandla Stenberg, George MacKay, Abbie Cornish and Christopher Ecclestone, and premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival this September.

A screening of Where Hands Touch was hosted at the Broadway Cinema last month to an audience of its Manx cast and crew. Numerous Island-based professionals worked on the film, as well as approximately 300 local background artists, proving a huge achievement for the Island’s extras agency, Ex-Isle. Extras embraced the long shooting hours and difficult working conditions to take part in the harrowing camp scenes for Amma, who had been impressed with the Isle of Man’s community spirit and engagement when she filmed her earlier period drama, Belle, on the Island in 2012.

Local construction crew built the Second World War workers camp on Jurby Airfield, with impressive results. Nearby Mountain View Innovation Studios provided the month-long production base to the UK project, and shooting took place in its sound stage and also at the historically significant Knockaloe, near Peel. The Island successfully came together for this production and the film is one we can be suitably proud to have been part of.

This will be the end of an era though as it is accepted that one-off projects no longer adequately benefit the Island since no media infrastructure or long-term jobs are created. Further, over the past decade, the Island has become less competitive than its neighbours (the UK and Ireland), principally because it does not offer non-discretionary tax incentives to the film industry.

So a new strategy focuses on increasing non-film-specific activity on the Isle of Man by encouraging companies to locate here, building on the positive financial, creative and economical success that the media industry is generating globally.

This year, the Department for Enterprise’s restructuring into agencies has determined a new future: digital media is an emerging sector for the new Digital Agency, the aim being to build clusters around TV and film, Animation, Games & Video, Technology Innovation and content distribution to grow it into a sustainable industry.

The Digital Agency will work with keen private sector partners to grow a media ecosystem of quality and substance to cater for this new industry. The Island has an existing environment for the eGaming sector, which is readily available in terms of connectivity and data centre capacity.

To achieve its aim, the Digital Agency is working with Isle of Media, the national development agency set up as a not-for-profit Public Private Partnership to drive inward investment in digital media and foster the indigenous industry. They created a great promotional video in recent months which is a fantastic reminder of the Island’s movie history.

Isle of Media Promo Vid

Co-production agreements with other jurisdictions will become more important, and we must work with media companies to ensure they don’t lose out by choosing the Isle of Man. Post production and animation are interesting new areas for the Digital Agency as they are both workforce heavy. If 80% of a project’s spend in the UK or Ireland is eligible for a tax incentive, then we can possibly attract the remaining 20% of the activity – this could mean a handful of new jobs for a couple of years and in the early stages of sector growth, this cannot be ignored.

The Digital Agency will look to support existing or locating media companies who have appropriate projects and verified investment partners, with presales or a commission agreed. The deal structure and number of parties in each case may be different, but in all cases, the long-term nature of the Island-based activity will be the priority.

With its excellent capabilities in finance and technology, its scenic and adaptable filming locations, and world class infrastructure, the Isle of Man can support and attract the whole industry supply chain including production, post-production, global distributors, streaming media operators and satellite broadcasters, to create a global media ecosystem that is sustainable.

The Digital Agency is working closely with Isle of Media on a targeted approach and expected early successes are aimed at renewing the faith of the Government and the public in media investment through dividends and impact.

Earlier this month, the Department announced a partnership with US based Pilgrim Media Group to develop new content around the Isle of Man TT, such as TV, film, e-sports gaming and streaming, including the potential of the first live broadcast of the races in its 111-year history. Brokering this deal, Isle of Media hopes that this collaboration will increase on-island activity and benefit both the existing media cluster and will inspire new businesses to get involved.

Country branding through media (beyond the TT) is a wider focus within the Digital Agency and the Department as a whole. The Isle of Man Film Festival was hosted for the seventh year running in September, and through growing interest and success both locally and internationally, a longer term future is being discussed which will allow for more impact in terms of Isle of Man content creation.

Recent short film productions linked to the festival and supported by the Department have gained serious traction this year, with Ready To Go starring Kevin Doyle winning over 25 international film festival laurels so far, and Brothers of Italy about internment on the Isle of Man during the Second World War, which is being used as a proof of concept for a future television series.

After a temporary pause in activity, the Isle of Man’s media aspirations are growing once more, and the Digital Agency will demonstrate it is very much open for business from 2019!

Location, location, location

The Isle of Man promoted its location credentials earlier this month when its digital media cluster, Isle of Media, hosted a stand at FOCUS in London. The event brings together media professionals from all sectors of the creative screen industries and is designed as a knowledge-sharing and peer-networking platform.

FOCUS aims to help filmmakers and producers discover incentives and production solutions to maximise screen value for all budgets, and Isle of Media representatives Shelley Langan (SES) and Dave Benyon (Greenlight TV) had a busy two days. Joining them to promote the Island’s media offering on behalf of the Isle of Man Government’s new Department for Enterprise was Zoe Guilford.

Following Isle of Media’s first anniversary in September, the not-for-profit organisation has refreshed its branding in anticipation of an exciting 2018, which will include events at MIPTV and MIPCOM in Cannes. For companies looking to set up a new media venture, or locate a new part of an existing/expanding business on the Isle of Man, please go to for more information and to view the national media strategy.

Isle of Man Film Gets a Makeover

The Isle of Man Government has continued to make progress towards its digital media aspirations over the summer, by securing some interesting new projects.

One of these is a new twelve-part TV series which is being produced on the Island by the newly founded Formatzone IOM Ltd. The production ‘Laurence of Suburbia’ stars Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen, best known for his BBC series Changing Rooms and DIY SOS. It takes a fresh approach to the TV makeover format, featuring houses where the history of the house and the location inspire the design. The first two episodes are based on the island.

The Island’s media cluster, Isle of Media, an industry-driven Public Private Partnership with the Government which has been tasked to grow the digital media industry on the Island, has been very instrumental in securing this production for the Island. CEO Stuart Semark has been talking to producer Mark Rowland for some time about the possibility of bringing Formatzone to the Island and when the opportunity of basing the production of ‘Laurence of Suburbia’ here became realistic, he engaged the Department of Economic Development and Treasury to see if they were prepared to support the project.

The DED and Isle of Media have worked together for several months to enable this production to happen and to secure the long-term commitment of Formatzone on the Island. We are optimistic that this will be a very successful series in the international TV market and that Formatzone’s presence here will attract other significant companies in the future.

Formatzone was established by Mark Rowland and its MD, Ben Robinson, to create television formats for the international marketplace. Both highly respected TV industry executives with extensive experience in format development TV production and international distribution – previous international hits include ‘Supernanny’ and ‘Robot Wars’. The concept for ‘Laurence of Suburbia’ was a collaborative effort with Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen.

‘Laurence of Suburbia’ will be launched by Sky Vision, the international distribution arm of Sky TV at MIPCOM, the annual international TV Market in Cannes, France in October where the first two episodes featuring the Island will be shown to international buyers.

The Production has just wrapped and employed over 25 local people including producers, researchers, camera and sound, and because it’s a home makeover format designers, builders, electricians and decorators too – all working together to a tight deadline.

This collaboration between IOMG, Isle of Media, Formatzone and Manx crew and services has gone extremely well and we all look forward to the next production and a long successful future for Formatzone on the Isle of Man.

Another exciting project heading our way in September is the DR1 Championship Series, sponsored by DHL, which sees the Isle of Man hosting the groundbreaking new sport of drone racing. Production company DR1 will be shooting some of the world’s best drone pilots as they compete on the specially designed track along Marine Drive. Eurosport and Fox Sports will both show the 2017 DHL DR1 Champion Series in the Autumn.

With more TV features over the coming months, the Isle of Man is enjoying a strengthening of its reputation as a filmmaking destination for the future.

The Isle of Man plays its favourite role as host…

2017 so far has been a showcase year for the Island, with several productions which shot last year airing on British TV. Well-known BBC TV series Top Gear and Countryfile both featured the Island, as well as ITV’s Britain’s Best Walks with Julia Bradbury.

The Pinewood comedy feature film Mindhorn, shot in the Summer of 2015 on the Isle of Man, was also released to great reviews. While Manx locations have featured in numerous movies, never has a film actually been set here – until now! The cast and crew – including writers and stars of the film Julian Barratt and Simon Farnaby plus its director Sean Foley – returned “home” to the Island for a special premiere screening on 27th April.

The following week we welcomed the Celtic Media Festival to the Villa Marina in Douglas, the annual three-day celebration of broadcasting, film talent and excellence from the combined Celtic regions. Hosted in stunning weather, over 200 visitors to the Island enjoyed media forums and panels and great networking and parties.

With TT and plenty of Summertime productions coming up, there will be no slowing down for Isle of Man Film this year!

Pinewood feature film wraps on the Isle of Man after a successful shoot

The latest feature film to shoot on the Isle of Man – Where Hands Touch – has wrapped on the Island following the December-long shoot. Filmed on location in the North of the Island, the film is the latest project by writer-director Amma Asante.

The film stars Amandla Stenberg (The Hunger Games) and George MacKay (Pride). Abbie Cornish and Christopher Ecclestone also star in the wartime drama.

Set in Berlin in 1944, Where Hands Touch follows a bi-racial German teenager (Stenberg) who begins a friendship with a member of the Hitler youth (MacKay).

BAFTA-winning Asante, who writes and directs this project, has filmed on the Island before (for the hugely successful Belle in 2012) and was instrumental in bringing Where Hands Touch here. Her latest film, A United Kingdom, has just been released in UK cinemas to critical acclaim.

The Pinewood Pictures production shot the first half of the film in Belgium before moving to the Isle of Man at the beginning of December. A Second World War workers camp was constructed from scratch on Jurby Airfield, and there was additional filming at the nearby studios at Mountain View Innovation Centre (formerly Island Studios) and also at Knockaloe near Peel.

Over a hundred local background artists were employed by the production during the shoot, many of whom were asked to shave their heads for the roles. The Island’s extras agency Ex-Isle had the challenge of sourcing people (mostly women) for the film and the local community embraced both the long hours and difficult working conditions to take part in the harrowing camp scenes.

Where Hands Touch is the 107th feature film to shoot on the Isle of Man since the start of the film industry here in 1995. It is due for release in late 2017.

A busy October for TV production on the Isle of Man

The Island has enjoyed an exciting month with two notable TV projects shooting on location.

At the start of the month, Outdoor Productions visited the Island and shot an episode for a new walking series presented by Julia Bradbury which is expected to screen on ITV1 in February 2017. The 22-minute programme will focus on the Laxey area and the visiting crew were able to take advantage of some unseasonably fair weather as the walking route incorporated sights such as the mines, Dhoon Glen, and the iconic Laxey Wheel.

The great weather continued to allow well-known BBC show Top Gear to showcase the Island’s stunning coastline and mountain region for last weekend’s 4-day shoot. Top Gear has shot on the Island before, but this was the first time with its new presenter Matt LeBlanc, for their upcoming 2017 series which will screen in the Spring. Profiling the Russian eight-wheeled Avtoros Shaman vehicle, the large prodcution team filmed in various locations around the Island and seemed to have a great time doing so.

‘Mindhorn’ premieres at the London Film Festival

Last Sunday 9th October, Mark Robson and Zoe Guilford of IOM Film attended the World Premiere of ‘Mindhorn’, the latest feature film to be shot on the Isle of Man in association with Pinewood Pictures.

Reviews for the film (and for the Island itself where the comedy is set) have emerged from the London Film Festival and have been very positive, with The Guardian calling ‘Mindhorn’ a “creation to savour”. The Hollywood Reporter notes that “credit is due to the Isle of Man’s majestically rugged coastal scenery, proudly playing itself after decades of standing in for more exotic locales. The eternal bridesmaid of movie locations finally gets its glorious day at the altar.”

Shot over 5 weeks on the Isle of Man in Summer 2015, ‘Mindhorn’ is a comedy written and starring Julian Barratt and Simon Farnaby of ‘The Mighty Boosh’ fame about a has-been actor who returns to the Island to solve a crime. It’s the latest production from Scott Free Productions, directed by Sean Foley.

Studio Canal are distributing the film which is set to be released early next year, and an Isle of Man screening is being organised to tie in with this.

Isle of Man to host next year’s Celtic Media Festival

With the dust now settling on this year’s Isle of Man Film Festival (held on 5-11th September 2016), the Celtic Media Festival has announced that it will hold its next annual 3-day event on the Island on 3-5th May 2017.

The Celtic Media Festival promotes the languages and cultures of the Celtic Nations and Regions in media. It combines a major conference of seminars and master classes with presentation of coveted prizes in an international competition across all the main content genres in TV, radio, film and digital media. 2017 will be the first year the Island hosts the Festival with over 500 people expected to attend.

Entry for the awards has opened now and submissions are accepted for until the end of October, so interested parties should take a look at the award categories now to see if they have any suitable projects for nomination.

Visit for more information.

Congratulations to the winners of Pitch Fest, Isle of Man Film Festival 2015!

On Friday 14th September a panel of judges met with twelve filmmakers, some from the Isle of Man and others from the UK and Ireland. After a tremendously difficult decision process the winners of the competition were announced at the Isle of Man Film Festival awards ceremony held at the Broadway Cinema, Douglas on Sunday 13th September.

On offer was potential match funding of up to £7,500 per project for the best short film ideas and packages. The winning filmmakers for the awarding round 2015/2016 are:

  • Jean (Dir: Sonya Quayle) (DOP: John Craine)
  • Touchpaper (Dir: Patrick Hopkins) (Prod: Joel Stokes)
  • No Man is an Island (Dir: Lance Nielsen) (Prod: Nicola Gregory)
  • The Last Confession of Illiam Dhone (Dir: Jim Hampton) (Prod: Ady Hall)

Isle of Man Film’s short film funding scheme is delivered in partnership with Mannin Shorts, a short film training scheme. with the aim of developing local talent and emerging filmmakers, along with developing industry links between the Island and its neighbouring countries.