Our Friend in the East: Chiara Di Filippo

Our Friend in the East: Chiara Di Filippo

By Chiara Di Filippo,
Wednesday, 5th June 2024
Chiara Di Filippo (Credit: Chiara Di Filippo)
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Chiara Di Filippo discusses the region’s future with RTS East Vice-Chair Charlie Gauvain

The East of England’s TV industry faces unique challenges and opportunities. I sat down with Charlie Gauvain, Managing Director of Eye Film in Norwich and Vice-Chair of RTS East, to discuss these dynamics and shed light on the region’s achievements and the hurdles it must overcome.

The East of England has seen less commissioning activity than areas such as the North East and South West. The situation is particularly dire this year. “There’s a lot less commissioning than there’s ever been,” says Gauvain.

Despite housing some of the UK’s largest film production units, including Warner Bros Studios Leavesden in Hertfordshire, the region suffers from a lack of locally commissioned projects. “Production companies come from outside the region, they make their programmes and they disappear again,” Gauvain laments, illustrating a cycle that deprives local companies of opportunities to grow.

The difficulties extend beyond broadcast work. According to Gauvain, the past 12 months have been particularly challenging for Eye Film: “I can’t remember another time when we’ve struggled so much… it seems almost like the downturn is much worse than it was last year when everyone was talking about it.”

This downturn has hit various sectors, including schools and educational projects, which exacerbates the financial strain on local production companies. “There are a lot of companies going out of business,” says Gauvain. “Business has its highs and lows, and right now it feels like a real low – I hope companies can ride it out, but I think there are going to be quite a few casualties along the way.”

In the face of these challenges, Gauvain stresses the importance of collaboration within the industry. “Now more than ever, we need to join forces, we need to get together and prove that we can work with each other,” he urges.

While recent RTS East events, such as “Norwich Film People” and “Cambridge Film People”, have sparked conversations and created new connections among TV professionals, Gauvain believes there is a need to transform these dialogues into concrete projects and commissions.

Nurturing new talent and increasing access to the TV industry is crucial. The RTS East Student Television Awards are a great opportunity for this. Gauvain recalls that he employed Jack Bernardin, a graduate of City College Norwich, after seeing his film Hip Hop, winner of the Editing award, at the 2024 awards ceremony in March.

Bernardin is now working as an editor at Eye Film and is nominated alongside his colleagues for his work on Town Close and Ansible Motion – Driver in the Loop at this month’s RTS East Programme Awards.

Looking ahead, RTS East remains optimistic. Norfolk Screen has recently been awarded Film Office status by Norfolk County Council. Factual drama The Sixth Commandment – co-produced by Cambridge-based True Vision East TV – won three awards at the RTS Programme Awards.

RTS East is gearing up to host its annual Programme Awards, which have received a record number of submissions.

“We are looking forward to hosting our largest Programme Awards yet, thanks to a large number of entries and first-time nominees and the generous support from Anglia Ruskin University,” says Gauvain. “We aim to continue nurturing the next generation of young film and TV talent and make our region an exciting hub for the industry.”

Chiara Di Filippo is RTS East Event Manager

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