Film crews boost Pembrokeshire economy's takings

Image caption,
Robin Hood starring Russell Crowe (centre wearing sun glasses) filmed in Pembrokeshire for five weeks last summer

Hollywood movies like Robin Hood and Harry Potter put more than £5m into the south west Wales economy, it has been claimed by the Wales Screen Commission.

Star Russell Crowe and a 1,000-strong location crew spent five weeks filming Robin Hood in Pembrokeshire last year.

Pembrokeshire council heard Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the film of the final book, also boosted takings by local businesses.

The commission said it hoped other filmmakers would now come to Wales.

Robin Hood, which opened in UK cinemas last month, was directed by Ridley Scott and starred Crowe in the title role and Cate Blanchett as Lady Marion.

The production used Freshwater West beach and Castlemartin army range.

Katherine Thomas, of Wales Screen Commission, said Freshwater West proved to be "an ideal little oasis" for the production, which brought in 500 crew, 650 extras and 125 horses.

She said: "It was the size of the beach, access to the beach, the size of the waves: they were able to bring in a lot of ships to moor in the bay, and the very large area behind the beach to set up camp for the vehicles and horses.

Image caption,
Last month the beach was used for the final Harry Potter film

"And it was enclosed - the police were able to close the road at either end."

The Harry Potter production also used Freshwater West, Ms Thomas told the council's economy overview and scrutiny committee.

She said the "quite staggering" expenditure figure by film crews was expected to rise when productions filmed in Carmarthenshire, Swansea and Neath Port Talbot confirmed their outlay.

The local facilities and services used by film companies included accommodation, transport, fuel and local shops, she said.

She said: "I know that the launderettes were very busy, with some operating 24 hours a day, and the local pubs also did very well.

"Last year was an exceptional year for Pembrokeshire," she said.

"We were delighted, not only with the money that was spent here, but with the calibre of the projects.

Road trip

"If Pembrokeshire is good enough for Ridley Scott, other filmmakers will hopefully think it's good enough for them."

Location filming by non-Hollywood-based productions in 2009 included Third Star, written and co-produced by Pembrokeshire-born Vaughan Sivell, a road trip following the character of James and his three friends to Barafundle Bay.

Round Ireland with a Fridge, based on the book by Tony Hawks, was partly filmed in Manorbier and the Preseli mountains.

Pembrokeshire council's cabinet member for cultural services and tourism Rob Lewis said he hoped other filmmakers would follow.

"As well as being a tremendous fillip to the local economy, the filmmaking could well bring longer term benefits," he added.

"It will raise the profile of the county and showcase Pembrokeshire to a world-wide audience."

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