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Northern England Film, TV Hub Lands Producer as Joint Venture Partner

Future Artists Entertainment (FAE) and U.K. studios network Versa Studios, which has hosted the likes of Marvel Studios’ Secret Invasion, have partnered in a film production hub joint venture for Versa’s facility in Leeds in Northern England, which they say will provide “a world-class filmmaking home, offering full production services and facilities.” The site currently includes four soundstages, ranging from 10,000 to 27,000 square feet, and will over time also add post-production and VFX services, as well as “outreach and educational programs.”

The space allows up to three productions to be ongoing at the same time, the partners said. Financial details of their deal weren’t disclosed.

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FAE, founded in 2019 by Matt Williams and Martin Owen, said it has attracted more than $150 million in production spend since its inception, producing 14 films, two of them in conjunction with Versa in Manchester. It just wrapped Lionsgate survival thriller Above The Below, starring Idris Elba, and is also known for such movies as the Netflix film Bank of Dave, featuring Rory Kinnear and Phoebe Dynevor, Russel Crowe’s Sky movie Poker Face, starring Crowe and Liam Hemsworth, and Last Train to Christmas with Michael Sheen. The firm has shot three movies in Leeds, including the upcoming Amazon Studios title Upgraded, which is set in New York and London.

Versa runs a network of TV, film, live event, immersive, and gaming studios in London, Manchester, and Leeds. “Versa is positioned at the forefront of re-imagining studio spaces and since opening in Leeds has already welcomed a wide variety of high-profile productions, including Netflix’s hugely popular crime thriller Bodies and Marvel Studios’ Secret Invasion,” the company said. It previously posted on its LinkedIn account: “Marvel Entertainment brought its brand new show Marvel Studios ‘Secret Invasion’ to Versa Leeds. As well as filming scenes in Stage 01, the production filmed in Leeds city center and at the spectacular Piece Hall in Halifax,” a nearby town.

“Versa’s sister company Department has also recently opened a multi-creative and tech industries workplace hub in Leeds Dock which will add a whole range of facilities for FAE and other production companies to enjoy,” Versa added. Leeds Dock is a waterside development with retail, office and leisure space on the River Aire.

The companies said on Tuesday that Leeds, which also has a student population, has further upside as a place for film and TV production. “The FAE Versa Studios partnership is testament to the potential of the city of Leeds to become an internationally recognized production hub with international appeal for first-class content creatives at a competitively priced facility,” they said. “Versa and FAE will jointly promote the studios and seek to welcome a range of other production companies and projects through its doors as well as working closely with FAE’s own productions.”

Said FAE CEO Matt Williams: “We are delighted with this new venture and the ability to now offer the industry a fully servicing company that has in-house facilities as well as expertise. There are significant advantages in collaborating as global leading partners with Versa Studios and in making our Northern hub the city of Leeds.”

Added Charlie Ingall, founder and executive director of Versa: “Together, we will continue to create a unique production hub in Leeds with global appeal. Attracting both domestic and international productions means we can also focus on nurturing next-gen talent to ensure more access to the industry and maintain a strong, talented crew base with employment opportunities in the wider creative industries sector in Leeds and beyond.”

Michael Ingall, chairman of Allied London, a property group that is a sister company of Versa, also lauded the partnership. “Versa is a big part of our group now, and its investment in Leeds alongside our other interests is Leeds Dock is a major play and part of our creative industries strategy,” he said. “It’s now time to put our creative industries assets together and promote Leeds as a regional capital for creative Industries. This joint venture with Future Artists Entertainment is a really big part of that and enables us to accelerate our ambition for Leeds.”

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