The post-production scene in London has had the classic problem of not enough work to go round and so prices at best have been static for at least 10 years. But perhaps there is good news thanks to the likes of Netflix.
A number of London’s leading post-production houses have told UK media magazine Broadcast that they will be putting up their prices for the first time in many years in 2019.
There has been a growth in work from both traditional UK broadcasters as well as new work from streaming services like Netflix, Amazon and Apple TV all of which has meant that for the first time in many years demand is exceeding supply enabling the London based post houses to be able to increase their prices for the first time in over a decade for those customers choosing to use London based facilities.
The Farm Group chief executive David Klafkowski said:
“The industry is in for a change in central London where rates will go up. They haven’t changed for years and it will happen now. If your production wants to be in central London, there will be a ‘London weighting’, for want of a better word. It has to become more expensive otherwise none of us will be left in business. It won’t be a big-bucks rise, it’s just that there will be an understanding that certain things are going to cost a bit more.”
Envy head of operations Jai Cave said:
“We are looking at a higher volume of work coming through in the next year. Everyone is looking busy, so now is the time.”
It would seem the difference here is the growth in content being created for OTT services like Netflix and Amazon Prime.
It’s not just post-production that has seen growth here in the UK. A shortage of spaces in which to film all this new content has resulted in a sudden increase in what are being called ’pop-up’ studio sites like a former military airbase in Yorkshire where the ITV shot their hit Victoria and an old carpet warehouse in north London, which was used to shoot another ITV production, Mr Selfridge, because the established sites like Pinewood and Shepperton are fully booked.
Looking further afield and Netflix is already acquiring facilities of its own presumably to guarantee availability. In July 2018 Netflix established its first European production hub, in Madrid. It will be a central facility for Netflix’s growing slate of Spanish-language original content over the coming years including new and existing titles produced by Netflix, as well as series and films made by production partners for Netflix.
Netflix took occupancy of three 1,200m2 sound stages in September, with the option to occupy more space as it is completed. The creation of the production hub reflects Netflix’s deepening investment in Spain, with over 13,000 cast, crew and extras working on 20 Netflix original productions across the country this year.
Back in the UK, we understand that Netflix is planning to produce twice the number of productions compared to Spain, including new seasons of The Crown and Black Mirror as well as the historical film based on Shakespeare's King Henry plays that is expected to need more than 20,000 cast, crew and extras.
Moving to the US and in October 2018, Netflix has paid less than $30 million for Albuquerque Studios which is reported to have cost $91 million. The ABQ Studios site includes eight sound stages totalling 132,000 square feet of space, plus 100,000 square feet of production offices and support space and a large backlot. The site is less than 15 minutes from Albuquerque’s airport, which is a two-hour flight from L.A.
It is clear that Netflix is buying up production space to make sure they have the capacity in-house to make their high-budget productions and we are seeing that this is rippling through to the post-production market and is already turning around the post business in London and surely it is going to have a similar impact in other centres around the world.
Have you seen how the likes of Netflix, Amazon and Apple are having either positive or negative impacts on where you work? Do share your experiences in the comments below.