Where are the best and worst cities in the UK to make films?

Like this, but rubbish and British. Image: Getty.

What’s the best way to rank cities? If you ask a square, they’ll probably start by talking about population or GDP or land area.

Wrong. The best way, clearly, is to look at how good the films made there are. So let’s take a look at the quality of the average film shot in or near (within 10 miles of) a given UK city, as determined by the filming locations and reviews stored in IMDB, the Internet Movie Database*.

Because CityMetric has a reputation to maintain, let’s start with a map of UK cities by film quality:

Which UK cities are home to the worst films?

5) Armagh

Films made within 10 miles: 3

Average IMDB rating: 5.47/10

Armagh in Northern Ireland was previously known for its two cathedrals, its observatory and its Georgian architecture, according to what someone has written on Wikipedia. But now it will be known for being the 5th worst place to make movies in!

Worst film: Shrooms (IMDB rating: 4.7/10)

Shot down the road in Gosford Forest Park, Shrooms is the story of some American college students who take the illegal hallucinogenic drug of mushrooms: with hilarious, but murderous, consequences!

IMDB reviewers say: “yet another fear-mongering propagandist defecation”.

4) Southampton

Films shot within 10 miles: 33

Average IMDB rating: 5.17/10

“In Southampton, no one knows anything,” wrote William Goldman. Wait, no, sorry, he was talking about Hollywood.

Worst film: Battlefield Death Tales (IMDB rating: 2.3/10)

Also known as Nazi Zombie Death Tales, this anthology of World War II horror stories was partly made in Southampton, although sadly it doesn’t say which part: hopefully the one about Nazi Zombies.

IMDB reviewers say: “Watch it if you have seen every other movie in the world and have nothing else to watch.”

3) Aberdeen

Films made within 10 miles: 3

Average IMDB rating: 4.83/10

Ah, Aberdeen, “the silver city with the golden sands”, as an optimistic 1950s tourist campaign had it. Although not as optimistic as Aberdeen’s silver screen ambitions, as it turns out.

Worst film: Attack of the Herbals (IMDB rating: 3.6/10)

Scottish villagers try to save a local business from a supermarket takeover by selling herbal tea. Which turns out to be Nazi zombie juice, or something. Well, at least it’s original.

IMDB reviewers say: “It's...perfectly fine if you are on the phone while writing poetry”.

2) St Asaph

Films made within 10 miles: 4

Average IMDB rating: 4.83/10

Congratulations to St Asaph: you guys may only have been a city since 2012, but you’re already home to some of the shittest films in the UK, including:

Worst film: Saint Dracula 3D (IMDB rating: 3/10)

Dracula falls in love with a nun. Sorry, Dracula, for the first time in 3D, falls in love with a nun. “The Catastrophic Lover” boasts the incoherent trailer.

Even the limp claim to be the first 3D Dracula movie isn’t true, as it was beaten by Dario Argento’s Dracula 3D. The Wikipedia page includes a section titled “Oscar eligibility”, in which it is explained that as Saint Dracula 3D was, technically speaking, a film, it was definitely eligible to be Oscar-nominated.

IMDB reviewers say: “Even the trailer is awful”

1) Lichfield

Films made within 10 miles: 2

Average IMDB rating: 4.8/10

"Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Lichfield anymore,” Dorothy would have said, if she was from Lichfield.

Worst film: Nativity 3: Dude, Where's My Donkey?! (IMDB rating: 3.6/10)

Martin Clunes receives some sort of brain injury that causes him to lose a donkey, enter a flashmob competition, and propose to Catherine Tate. If I ever have a kid I am not letting it find out about films because for Christ’s sake.

IMDB reviewers say: “if this is a "British" film then I don't want to be British anymore”.


Which UK cities make the best films?

So where should you shoot your film to guarantee cinematic gold? Here are the top 5 UK film cities.

5) Newry

Films made within 10 miles: 8

Average IMDB rating: 6.86/10

Best film: Philomena (IMDB rating: 7.6/10)

4) Durham

Films made within 10 miles: 11

Average IMDB rating: 6.9/10

Best film: Billy Elliot (IMDB rating: 7.7/10)

3) Derby

Films made within 10 miles: 11

Average IMDB rating: 6.9/10

Best film: Goodbye, Mr. Chips (IMDB rating: 7.8/10)

2) Lincoln

Films made within 10 miles: 5

Average IMDB rating: 7.2/10

Best film: Full Metal Jacket (IMDB rating: 8.3/10)

1) Lancaster

Films made within 10 miles: 4

Average IMDB rating: 7.25/10

Best film: Brief Encounter (IMDB rating: 8.1/10)

There’s only one city in the UK that doesn’t appear as a location in a single feature film eligible for inclusion in the dataset: Dundee. The closest it gets is Shooting Clerks, a crowdfunded film from a niche production company who for some reason appear to almost entirely specialise in producing biopics of the be-jorted film director Kevin Smith, and something called The Tartan Horror Story, neither of which have yet merited enough IMDB ratings to be counted. So, location scouts looking for untapped potential: it’s Dundee time.

Actually, is Paul Hogan busy these days? Because I’ve just had an idea.

* Excluding documentaries, short films, live concert films, and anything that’s received less than a hundred ratings. If Sex Lives of the Potato Men can get 2,092, I’m not convinced anything with less than a hundred votes has actually been seen by anyone who isn’t the director’s mum.

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What is to be done? Some modest suggestions on solving the NIMBY problem

Lovely, lovely houses. Image: Getty.

The thing about NIMBYism, right, is that there’s no downside to it. If you already own a decent size house, then the fact a city isn’t building enough homes to go round is probably no skin off your nose. Quite the opposite, in fact: you’ll actively benefit from higher house prices.

So it’s little wonder that campaigning against property development is a popular leisure activity among those looking forward to a long retirement (don’t Google it, it’ll only depress you). It’s sociable, it’s profitable, it only takes a few hours a week, and, best of all, it makes you feel righteous, like you’re doing something good. In those circumstances, who wouldn’t be a NIMBY?

To fight the scourge of NIMBYism, then, what we need to do is to rebalance the risks and rewards that its participants face. By increasing the costs of opposing new housebuilding, we can make sure that people only do it when said development is genuinely a horror worth fighting – rather than, say, something less than perfect that pops up a Tuesday afternoon when they don’t have much else on.

Here are some reasonable and sensible ideas for policies to make that happen.

A NIMBY licence, priced at, say, £150 a month. Anyone found practicing NIMBYism without a licence faces a fine of £5,000. Excellent revenue raiser for the Treasury.

Prison sentences for NIMBYs. Not all of them, obviously – we’re not barbarians – but if the planning process concludes that a development will be good for the community, then those who tried to prevent it should be seen as anti-social elements and treated accordingly.

A NIMBY lottery. All homeowners wishing to oppose a new development must enter their details into an official government lottery scheme. If their number comes up, then their house gets CPOed and redeveloped as flats. Turns NIMBYism into a form of Russian roulette, but with compulsory purchase orders instead of bullets.

This one is actually a huge range of different policies depending on what you make the odds. At one end of the scale, losing your house is pretty unlikely: you’d think twice, but you’re probably fine. At the other, basically everyone who opposes a scheme will lose their entire worldly wealth the moment it gets planning approval, so you’d have to be very, very sure it was bad before you even thought about sticking your head above the parapet. So the question is: do you feel lucky?


NIMBY shaming. There are tribal cultures where, when a member does something terrible, they never see them again. Never talk to them, never look at them, never acknowledge them in any way. To the tribe, this person is dead.

I’m just saying, it’s an option.

A NIMBY-specific bedroom tax. Oppose new housing development to your heart’s content, but be prepared to pay for any space you don’t need. I can’t think of any jokes here, now I’ve written it down I think this one’s genuinely quite sensible.

Capital punishment for NIMBYs. This one’s a bit on the extreme side, so to keep things reasonable it would only apply to those NIMBYs who believe in capital punishment for other sorts of crime. Fair’s far.

Pushing snails through their letter boxes. This probably won’t stop them, but it’d make me feel better. The snails, not so much.

Reformed property taxes, which tax increases in house prices, so discourage homeowners from treating them as effectively free money.

Sorry, I’m just being silly now, aren’t I?

Jonn Elledge is the editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and also has a Facebook page now for some reason.

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