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.