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How new tech will help bring more film and TV productions to Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 19:00 21 November 2019 | UPDATED: 09:11 22 November 2019

A host of coaches and horses recreated the bustling streets of London on Angel Hill  as Armando Iannucci filmed his new comedy drama The Personal History of David Copperfield. Picture: NEIL PERRY

A host of coaches and horses recreated the bustling streets of London on Angel Hill as Armando Iannucci filmed his new comedy drama The Personal History of David Copperfield. Picture: NEIL PERRY

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Suffolk's official film office is hoping to attract even more productions to the county after being involved in the development of an innovative new location database.

Screen Suffolk director Karen Everett said Suffolk locations would be prominent on the new database. Picture: GREGG BROWNScreen Suffolk director Karen Everett said Suffolk locations would be prominent on the new database. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Screen Suffolk's parent company Film Fixer has created locationfinder.ai - a new online database where productions can search for locations by picture rather than just keyword.

Location scouts can upload an image of the kind of building or location they are after, with the database coming up with matches of similar buildings or areas.

Screen Suffolk's location bank will be a part of the new system when it launches at the Focus conference in London on December 3 for industry professionals.

Karen Everett, Screen Suffolk chief executive, said: "LocationFinder is designed to make it even quicker to source stunning, film friendly locations, giving us an edge over regions that don't make their locations this easy to find.

"Because the search function works by image recognition, it supports beautifully Suffolk's ability to double as anywhere in the world.

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"Some of the best examples have been the use of Elveden Hall for example as a Moroccan Palace in All the Money in the World and as Ghana in The Crown.

"Bury St Edmunds doubled as London for David Copperfield, and Suffolk's own county council HQ Endeavour House doubled as a London office in The Detectorists.

"But it also helps when Suffolk is playing itself - you could search on an image of a swimming pool, a windmill, or a lighthouse with the parameter 'in Suffolk', for example.

"The brief location managers receive is usually a photo, accompanied by the request, 'I need something that looks like this, but in Suffolk,' or 'just an hour or so drive from London'.

"It makes far more sense to drop that image into a search engine and add parameters such as, 'near Ipswich', than to endlessly type in keywords to try and get a match. Locations are hard to describe, often you are looking for a mood or a feeling. This approach is far more intuitive.

"The aim is that LocationFinder becomes the place where they start - putting our locations in Suffolk among the first to be viewed."

Screen Suffolk was formed at the behest of the county's local authorities in December 2016 in a bid to up the number of filming days here, which generate tens of thousands of pounds in economic benefits - anywhere between £17,000 and £32,000 for a single day's filming.

It exceeded the 12-month target of 100 filming days in just seven months of existence - well up from the 30 days average per year prior to Screen Suffolk's formation, and clocked up more than 330 filming days as of January this year.

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