So how did 2023 go for filming and photoshoots on farms in Britain? We count ourselves one of the lucky ones in the film industry for 2023. So many professionals and companies have been severely affected by the American writer and actor strikes, and despite resolutions happening a few weeks ago, there was not the immediate flurry of activity that we were hoping for.
Before the sun sets on 2023 and we throw ourselves into a fresh new year, it’s worth a quick note on how Farm Locations weathered the storm this year, with its own arrangements of filming and photoshoots on farms.
The Good in 2023 for filming and photoshoots on farms
- It’s been the first year to see a much wider spread of hires coming nationwide for Farm Locations. Until this year, the emphasis had been all but entirely skewed to the South East corner, with a tiny handful peppered beyond. As the portfolio of farms grows across the UK, we are now able put forward stronger ideas for a wider array of catchment areas, and it’s working. I originally thought we could only be experts in the South East, as that is where we are based, but a pandemic’s upside was to show how effective remote working can really be.
- This has been the first year that we have exhibited at shows, and with a unanimous wave of positive feedback, we are feeling so inspired moving into 2024. We were approached by over 200 landowners at the Farm Business Innovation Show at the NEC in November, and extended and deepened relations at the meeting place for the screen industry in December, that was at FOCUS 2023. The boost it gave us to meet so many lovely, positive, encouraging people, face to face, has spurred me on to think bigger and better in our planning for 2024.
- 2023 has been the best year ever for shoot enquiries and hire days, that’s despite an awful start in Q1 2023. The never-give-up attitude of the team paid off, with an excellent run from April, and no longer will I be thinking that October is the last good month for what is largely an outdoors locations business of the year. In November, we had a really busy hire month too, despite such miserable weather.
- Systems! We’ve worked hard to improve all our systems and processes, and have plenty more steps to take into 2024. With just a team of 3, we don’t want to be growing our numbers if the systems aren’t stretched first, there’s always tweeks and nuancing to the way we function, that can be improved first to help us be faster and better. With our small, nimble team of Gemma, Tiff and I, it means our knowledge is deep and not spread thinly, and we can be light on our feet and personal in our touch. It’s the way we want to be.
- We work with a lovely, growing flock of owners, who are brilliant to work with, love what they do, and help us to deliver on some brilliant location shoots for all manner of clients. Without on-it owners, our days would feel like treading through sludge.
The not-so-Good in 2023
- Strikes. Say no more, except that we experienced a halt of major productions.
- The weather. Back in April, we expected crops to be short and non-yielding, then came the rains, and before we knew it, some maize grew 8-10 feet tall. Every year, we work with scouts on finding crops for a few months time, which will be just so – a very tricky task, but still we try, and sometimes find a solution.
- And despite the rains that feel like they’ve never stopped, no shoot was cancelled this year -just a bit of diary juggling to catch the drier interludes, especially in the Autumn.
- 2023 started very slowly for hires of filming and photoshoots on farms. It was well down on 2022 – I pray this does not happen again for 2024.
- A too-large a number of farms in the portfolio are still falling short of a hire. Over the years we have grown the portfolio with optimism and an open mind for what farm might work for who. We turned very few away to register. Our growing experience in the industry is now showing patterns on what farms and rural locations are more in demand. On the upside, there is no investment upfront from a landowner, so there’s no risk to having a go. And it’s our job as the only farm specialist to raise the profile of farms and rural locations in the film industry and we remain optimistic that there is a chance for everyone. We just need to be a little more picky as we cannot afford to grow too big and lose our personal touch.
2024 is the Year to Grab
Not long ago, we were tiny and little known. This year we feel a wave of change has happened. We are much better known, in fact widely known, and feedback from the industry is that we are liked, we add value, and we are doing something niche that is good. We aren’t just another agency muddying the waters, duplicating locations, doing the same. We are carving a different path that matters to us, our owners and our clients, and that is to champion and support Britain’s farms in the film industry. Next year, 2024, is the year for us to raise our voices a bit more, and make some bigger steps to stride forward in our mission. It’s a year that I am very excited about and look forward to striding forth.
Wishing everyone a happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year. Catch up again in 2024!