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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There isn’t a single national housing market – so we need multiple models of local regeneration, too

Rochdale. Image: Getty.

This week’s budget comes ten years after the 2007 financial crisis. The trigger for that crisis was a loss in confidence in mortgages for homes, with banks suddenly recognising the vulnerability of loans on their books.

In the last ten years, the UK’s cities and regions have followed very different paths. This week’s focus on housing affordability is welcome, but it will be a challenge for any chancellor in the coming decade to use national policy to help towns up and down the country. Local housing markets differ drastically. The new crop of city-region mayors are recognising this, as rents in parts of south Greater Manchester are on average double the rents in parts of the north of the city-region.

When it comes to buying a home, politicians are increasingly articulate about the consequences of inequity in our housing system. But we must recognise that, for 9m citizens who live in social rented homes, the prospects of improvements to properties, common areas and grounds are usually tied to wider projects to create new housing within existing estates – sometimes involving complete demolition and rebuilding.

While the Conservative governments of the 1980s shrank the scale of direct investment in building homes for social rent, the Labour governments from the late 1990s used a sustained period of growth in property prices to champion a new model: affordable housing was to be paid for by policies which required contributions to go to housing associations. Effectively, the funding for new affordable housing and refurbished social homes was part of the profit from market housing built next door, on the same turf; a large programme of government investment also brought millions of social rented homes up to a decent standard.

This cross-subsidy model was always flawed. Most fundamentally, it relies on rising property prices – which it is neither desirable nor realistic to expect. Building more social homes became dependent on ratcheting up prices and securing more private profit. In London, we are starting to see that model come apart at the seams.

The inevitable result has been that with long social housing waiting lists and rocketing market prices, new developments have too often ended up as segregated local communities, home to both the richest and the poorest. They may live side by side, but as the RSA concluded earlier this year, investment in the social infrastructure and community development to help neighbours integrate has too often been lacking. Several regeneration schemes that soldiered on through the downturn did so by building more private homes and fewer social rented homes than existed before, or by taking advantage of more generous legal definitions of what counts as ‘affordable housing’ – or both.

A rough guide to how house prices have changed since 2007: each hexagon is a constituency. You can explore the full version at ODI Leeds.

In most of England’s cities, the story does not appear to be heading for the dramatic crescendo high court showdowns that now haunt both developers and communities in the capital. In fact, for most social housing estates in most places outside London, national government should recognise that the whole story looks very different. As austerity measures have tightened budgets for providers of social housing, budgets to refurbish ageing homes are under pressure to do more with less. With an uncertain outlook for property prices, as well as ample brownfield and greenfield housing sites, estates in many northern towns are not a priority for private investors in property development.

In many towns and cities – across the North and the Midlands – the challenges of a poor quality built environment, a poor choice of homes in the local are, and entrenched deprivation remain serious. The recent reclassification of housing associations into the private sector doesn’t make investing in repairs and renewal more profitable. The bespoke ‘housing deals’ announced show that the government is willing to invest directly – but there is anxiety that devolution to combined authorities simply creates another organisation that needs to prioritise building new homes over the renewal of existing neighbourhoods.


In Rochdale, the RSA is working with local mutual housing society RBH to plan for physical, social and economic regeneration at the same time. Importantly, we are making the case – with input from the community of residents themselves – that significant investment in improving employment for residents might itself save the public purse enough money to pay for itself in the long-run.

Lots of services are already effective at helping people find work and start a job. But for those for whom job searching feels out of reach, we are learning from Rochdale Borough Council’s pioneering work that the journey to work can only come from trusting, personal relationships. We hear time and again about the demoralising effect of benefits sanctions and penalties. We are considering an alternative provision of welfare payments, as are other authorities in the UK. Importantly, residents are identifying clearly the particular new challenges created by new forms of modern employment and the type of work available locally: this is a town where JD Sports is hiring 1000 additional workers to fulfil Black Friday orders at its warehouse.

In neighbourhoods like Rochdale’s town centre, both national government and the new devolved city-region administration are considering an approach to neighbourhood change that works for both people and place together. Redevelopment of the built environment is recognised as just one aspect of improving people’s quality of life. Residents themselves will tell you quality jobs and community facilities are their priority. But without a wider range of housing choices and neighbourhood investment locally, success in supporting residents to achieve rising incomes will mean many residents are likely to leave places like Rochdale town centre altogether.

Meaningful change happen won’t happen without patience and trust: between agencies in the public sector, between tenants and landlords, and between citizens and the leaders of cities. This applies as much to our planning system as it does to our complex skills and employment system.

Trust builds slowly and erodes quickly. As with our other projects at the RSA, we are convinced that listening and engaging citizens will improve policy-making. Most of those involved in regeneration know this better than anyone. But at the national level we need to recognise that, just as the labour market and the housing market vary dramatically from place to place, there isn’t a single national story which represents how communities feel about local regeneration.

Jonathan Schifferes is interim Director, Public Services and Communities, at the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA).