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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Everything you ever wanted to know about the Seoul Metro System but were too afraid to ask

Gwanghwamoon subway station on line 5 in Seoul, 2010. Image: Getty.

Seoul’s metro system carries 7m passengers a day across 1,000 miles of track. The system is as much a regional commuter railway as an urban subway system. Without technically leaving the network, one can travel from Asan over 50 miles to the south of central Seoul, all the way up to the North Korean border 20 miles north of the city.

Fares are incredibly low for a developed country. A basic fare of 1,250 won (about £1) will allow you to travel 10km; it’s only an extra 100 won (about 7p) to travel every additional 5km on most lines.

The trains are reasonably quick: maximum speeds of 62mph and average operating speeds of around 20mph make them comparable to London Underground. But the trains are much more spacious, air conditioned and have wi-fi access. Every station also has protective fences, between platform and track, to prevent suicides and accidents.

The network

The  service has a complex system of ownership and operation. The Seoul Metro Company (owned by Seoul City council) operates lines 5-8 on its own, but lines 1-4 are operated jointly with Korail, the state-owned national rail company. Meanwhile, Line 9 is operated jointly between Trans-Dev (a French company which operates many buses in northern England) and RATP (The Parisian version of TfL).

Then there’s Neotrans, owned by the Korean conglomerate Doosan, which owns and operates the driverless Sinbundang line. The Incheon city government, which borders Seoul to the west, owns and operates Incheon Line 1 and Line 2.

The Airport Express was originally built and owned by a corporation jointly owned by 11 large Korean firms, but is now mostly owned by Korail. The Uijeongbu light railway is currently being taken over by the Uijeongbu city council (that one’s north of Seoul) after the operating company went bankrupt. And the Everline people mover is operated by a joint venture owned by Bombardier and a variety of Korean companies.

Seoul’s subway map. Click to expand. Image: Wikimedia Commons.

The rest of the lines are operated by the national rail operator Korail. The fare structure is either identical or very similar for all of these lines. All buses and trains in the region are accessible with a T-money card, similar to London’s Oyster card. Fares are collected centrally and then distributed back to operators based on levels of usage.

Funding

The Korean government spends around £27bn on transport every year: that works out at 10 per cent more per person than the British government spends.  The Seoul subway’s annual loss of around £200m is covered by this budget.

The main reason the loss is much lower than TfL’s £458m is that, despite Seoul’s lower fares, it also has much lower maintenance costs. The oldest line, Line 1 is only 44 years old.


Higher levels of automation and lower crime rates also mean there are fewer staff. Workers pay is also lower: a newly qualified driver will be paid around £27,000 a year compared to £49,000 in London.

New infrastructure is paid for by central government. However, investment in the capital does not cause the same regional rivalries as it does in the UK for a variety of reasons. Firstly, investment is not so heavily concentrated in the capital. Five other cities have subways; the second city of Busan has an extensive five-line network.

What’s more, while investment is still skewed towards Seoul, it’s a much bigger city than London, and South Korea is physically a much smaller country than the UK (about the size of Scotland and Wales combined). Some 40 per cent of the national population lives on the Seoul network – and everyone else who lives on the mainland can be in Seoul within 3 hours.

Finally, politically the biggest divide in South Korea is between the south-west and the south-east (the recently ousted President Park Geun-Hye won just 11 per cent of the vote in the south west, while winning 69 per cent in the south-east). Seoul is seen as neutral territory.  

Problems

A driverless train on the Shinbundang Line. Image: Wikicommons.

The system is far from perfect. Seoul’s network is highly radial. It’s incredibly cheap and easy to travel from outer lying areas to the centre, and around the centre itself. But travelling from one of Seoul’s satellite cities to another by public transport is often difficult. A journey from central Goyang (population: 1m) to central Incheon (population: 3m) is around 30 minutes by car. By public transport, it takes around 2 hours. There is no real equivalent of the London Overground.

There is also a lack of fast commuter services. The four-track Seoul Line 1 offers express services to Incheon and Cheonan, and some commuter towns south of the city are covered by intercity services. But most large cities of hundreds of thousands of people within commuting distance (places comparable to Reading or Milton Keynes) are reliant on the subway network, and do not have a fast rail link that takes commuters directly to the city centre.

This is changing however with the construction of a system modelled on the Paris RER and London’s Crossrail. The GTX will operate at maximum speed of 110Mph. The first line (of three planned) is scheduled to open in 2023, and will extend from the new town of Ilsan on the North Korean border to the new town of Dongtan about 25km south of the city centre.

The system will stop much less regularly than Crossrail or the RER resulting in drastic cuts in journey times. For example, the time from llsan to Gangnam (of Gangnam Style fame) will be cut from around 1hr30 to just 17 minutes. When the three-line network is complete most of the major cities in the region will have a direct fast link to Seoul Station, the focal point of the GTX as well as the national rail network. A very good public transport network is going to get even better.