AC: Christopher, I think its fair to say that when people hear the words "East Anglia" they usually arent very swiftly followed by the word "film".
CT: Well no they probably dont. But then again when I hear the word "Middlesborough", I dont automatically think "film" either. I do automatically think "single mothers" though.
AC: I hope you werent planning on visiting Middlesborough after a comment like that. They do tend to take that sort of thing personally.
CT: I never go further north then Cromer. I get nosebleeds otherwise.
AC: Tell me about the idea behind the East Anglia Film Commission.
CT: We noticed that in the general renaissance of film making in Britain that East Anglia was getting left behind. For example Reign of Fire is set in Norfolk but they filmed it in Ireland. Similarly, Mike Bassett: England Manager is partially set in Norwich but they chose to film it in St Albans! We thought that something had to be done to reverse the flow of movie traffic back towards the East. So we provide a service whereby film companies can come to us and we can try and find them suitable locations for their needs in our area.
AC: So do you think that you could have got, say Reign of Fire to relocate to the East?
CT: Yes, Im sure we could have done. We have the studio facilities. We have crews available. Delia Smith doesn't just live here for any old reason you know.
AC: I cant remember hearing about any studios being built in the area. Where are they?
CT: At Anglia Television.
AC: Thats hardly equipped as a full-sized soundstage though is it?
CT: Look if it was good enough for Nicholas Parsons on Sale of the Century then it would be good enough for bloody Reign of Fire ok? To be honest Im not sure if wed have wanted them. Did you hear what they did?
AC: I cant say that I did. No.
CT: The story was only centred around a castle on the summit of a Norfolk mountain. I mean theyve obviously havent got a clue how flat it is around here! Then to add insult to injury when somebody pointed out the mistake they said it was a "minor detail". Minor detail! How would they like it if we made a film and stuck the Statue of Liberty in the middle of Chicago? Theyd go mad thats what theyd do. Honestly, its enough to make my blood boil.
AC: I take it that you didnt invite anybody from the film to the EASC launch party then?
CT: No we certainly did not! No we invited a few select people who best represent the area. Delia Smith was there of course. Shed also prepared the smorgasbord style buffet for the assembled guests. We also had television personality Paul Lavers there. Hes now gone on to mega-stardom on the Ideal World home shopping channel but hes much loved from his days as a continuity announcer at Anglia Television. Hes got a really massive following in the region amongst menopausal middle-aged women and the infirm. So it was lovely that he could take time out from his busy schedule to come and support our effort.
AC: I dont suppose Alan Partridge could make it could he?
CT: No. I did try to get in contact with him but his management said that he was unavailable.
AC. Erm, yes.
CT: In fact the odd thing was they started sniggering when I asked to speak to him. It was all very odd.
AC: Er, you are aware that hes a fictional character arent you?
AC: Hes not real. Hes a character played by a comedian called Steve Coogan.
CT: Well of course I knew that. Of course I did. Everyone knows that dont they? Including me.
AC: So what does East Anglia have to offer prospective filmmakers then?
CT: Well the most obvious jewel in the East Anglican crown is the city of Norwich. Most people tend to think of Norwich as a bit of a staid place but they couldnt be more wrong. Norwich is a bustling metropolis, a city for the 21st century. It also features some unique architecture. Many parts of the city closely resemble London, New York, Paris and Beirut. So if, for example, you wanted to make a film set in Beirut why not film it in complete safety in Norwich? Just dont park on a double yellow line because your car will be clamped. And dont leave it unlocked because it will be stolen. The little bastards will steal anything around here. I blame the drugs. And Pokemon.
Of course, the city also offers a busy nightlife. It has over 50 pubs, many of whom welcome strangers. Or if you prefer something a little more energetic then our nightclubs are world-class. The Waterfront, for example, has a sound system that is the envy of many bigger clubs in London and Manchester. It also has a very large capacity cloakroom.
AC: What about outside Norwich?
CT: Youre expecting me to mention the Norfolk Broads arent you?
AC: Not really. I mean, I supposed you might have done.
CT: Well yes we have got miles and miles of inland waterways. Weve also got lots of windmills too. It rather like Holland but without the drugs, the porn and the prostitutes. The countryside is extremely flat, so no lugging equipment up hills! Plus weve got literally hundreds of small picturesque towns that would make the ideal setting for a period film. Were currently trying to get George A. Romero to film the fourth part of his zombie trilogy in Great Yarmouth this winter. Hell have a ready-made ghost town and he can use the locals as extras. No make-up required! Im joking, of course. Actually the extras would come from Kings Lynn. Have you seen the people there? I mean talk about inbreeding...
AC: So have you actually managed to attract any big names to the area so far?
CT: Well naturally negotiations are continuing but there are a few that we very much hope are about to film here. Martin Scorsese is going to make a film called The Mob which is going to be filmed in Norwich. He says that he "likes the way its more like New York then New York is" We believe that the sequel to The Beach is going to be set in Cromer. Interestingly, Cromer beach at low tide was used for some pick-up shots for Laurence of Arabia. I bet you didnt know that did you?
AC: No I didnt.
CT: We also hope to get the Harry Potter sequels to come to Norwich Cathedral instead of Durham. I dont know why on earth they went there in the first place. The parkings terrible. Last time I was there I spent hours driving round huge but very full multi-story car parks. You arent allowed to have an over-hanging sign on the shops in Durham, you know. They all have to be flush with the side of the building. Thats how boring the place is. Somebody actually had to think up a by-law to cover over-hanging signs. We have them in Norwich. We think they add character to the place. Even Kings Lynn have over-hanging signs.
AC: Christopher Tulkinghorne, thank you.