Team behind ‘state-of-the-art’ Norfolk film studio share their vision

Julia Taylor-Stanley (left) and Hilary Davis (right), from Artemis Films, have just started their three-phase plan

Julia Taylor-Stanley (left) and Hilary Davis (right), from Artemis Films, have just started their three-phase plan to open Anglia Film Studios - Credit: Hilary Davis

It could be time to roll out the red carpet if plans to build a state-of-the-art film studio in Norfolk are given the go-ahead. 

Julia Taylor-Stanley and Hilary Davis, from Artemis Films, have unveiled their three-phase plan to open Anglia Film Studios at RAF Sculthorpe, near Fakenham. 

The proposed facility would be created on the Tattersett Business Park, which now covers part of the former Cold War airbase.

Tattersett Business Park, near Fakenham, where businesses have been affected by a cut off power supp

Tattersett Business Park, near Fakenham, would be home to Anglia Film Studios - Credit: Archant

It would include purpose-built sound stages capable of hosting high-end productions for both film and television.

Ms Taylor-Stanley and Ms Davis are currently putting together outline net-zero plans for the new buildings, which would be home to 20,000 and 10,000 sq ft stages.

Accommodation for crew, as well as costume, hair and make-up departments and additional facilities - for what they refer to as a "creative cluster" - would provide all the elements necessary for production. 

The proposed scheme, which this newspaper reported on earlier this month, covers phase one of the development. This includes a 9,000-sq ft sound stage which would be constructed following a refurbishment of an old gymnasium building.

This complex will also include full production facilities.

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Phase two of the development would comprise two purpose-built stages to be constructed by Stage Fifty, the principal builder of studio facilities within the M25 corridor.

Tattersett Business Park, near Fakenham, where businesses have been affected by a cut off power supp

Tattersett Business Park, near Fakenham, would be home to Anglia Film Studios - Credit: Archant

Ms Taylor-Stanley, the CEO of Artemis Films, and has more than 17 years of experience in the industry and would also be chief executive of Anglia Film Studios.

She was a producer of Oscar-nominated film The Tempest, starring Helen Mirren, and Coriolanus with Ralph Fiennes and Gerard Butler.

In 2017, she partnered with Ms Davis, who has worked in international film sales, distribution and film financing for four decades. She will become the chief operating officer. 

Ms Taylor-Stanley was approached last year by financiers from Los Angeles, who wanted to explore building a regional studio in the UK. 

Over the past eight months, the pair have worked on establishing a studio in Norfolk due to links with the landowner at RAF Sculthorpe. 

They subsequently completed a feasibility study after deciding the location was "perfect".

A B45 in a hangar at the USAF base at Sculthorpe.
Photo: EDP library

A B45 in a hangar at the USAF base at Sculthorpe. Photo: EDP library - Credit: EDP © 2002

Ms Davis said: "The demand for studio space in the UK is at an all-time high.

“Production is also at an all-time high and most of the business seems to be located around the M25 corridor. To have a new facility, in what we feel is such a lovely place, is a distinct advantage.”

Ms Taylor-Stanley said reaction to the project from North Norfolk District Council, education providers and existing production companies in the region had thus far been overwhelmingly positive.

Moreover, the Anglia Film Studios team believe the creation of employment and training opportunities will address the nationwide shortage of crew members available for production.

Newly-qualified workers will also have a reason to stay in Norfolk, rather than moving to London or other cities to look for work.  

Also due to get on board with the project is Jules Robinson, an ex-Pinewood Studios manager with years of experience who will become managing director.

“We want to not only train them [crew members], but also create further opportunities and provide them with permanent jobs," added Ms Taylor-Stanley.

Anglia Film Studios' plans came to light just days after it was announced that Raynham Hangar Studios, also near Fakenham, had shut for good

Filming for The Souvenir at Raynham Hangar Studios

Filming for The Souvenir at Raynham Hangar Studios - Credit: Crispin Buxton/Norfolk Film Company

Despite their sadness over the closure, Ms Taylor-Stanley and Ms Davis are confident their own studio will be able to survive.

“We are already in discussions with a number of producers who want to bring very high-end projects to the region,” said Ms Taylor-Stanley.

“We feel there will be an appetite for this purpose-built facility, which Norfolk does not currently have.

“Our stages can accommodate all types of production, from high budget A-list to lower-budget independent films."

Outline plans for phase two of the studios, which form the major part of the development, will be submitted within the next few weeks. The project team are expected to make a formal announcement. 

Ms Taylor-Stanley and Ms Davis extended their thanks to a number of local businesses and education providers for their help during the planning process, in particular, Claire Chapman and Craig Higgins from Norfolk Screen. 

What happened to Raynham Hangar Studios?

Raynham Hangar Studios opened in 2017 and hosted the production of Joanna Hogg's movie, The Souvenir, in 2017.

Production of The Souvenir Part 2 was completed there in the summer of 2019.

The films brought Hollywood A-listers, including Robert Pattinson and Tilda Swinton to Norfolk. 

John Travolta was spotted at Morrisons in Fakenham in between filming at Raynham Hangar Studios

John Travolta was spotted at Morrisons in Fakenham in between filming at Raynham Hangar Studios - Credit: Gary Middleton

Earlier this year, legendary actor John Travolta was spotted in various locations across the county - including at a Wetherspoon pub in Dereham - in between filming for The Shepherd at Raynham Hangar. 

The studio received a £5m cash injection in 2019, but ultimately struggled to attract the biggest names and projects.

It is now being repurposed after the private owner decided the venture no longer made business sense.

Crispin Buxton, studio director at Raynham Hangar Studios

Crispin Buxton, studio director at Raynham Hangar Studios - Credit: Crispin Buxton

Speaking in June, studio director Crispin Buxton, of the Norfolk Film Company, admitted the decision was understandable. 

"From the owner/investor's point of view, it has just run its course," he said.

"We did great things and it was fantastic, but he is a businessman."