‘Cool, modern, multicultural international profile will be legacy of Sheffield film Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’

‘Cool, modern, multicultural international profile will be legacy of Sheffield film Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’

Thursday, 1st August 2019, 06:00 am
Updated Thursday, 1st August 2019, 06:00 am
The cast of Everybody's Talking About Jamie - with John McCrea, centre, as Jamie New - at the Apollo Theatre in London. Picture: Alastair Muir

We asked contributors – what will filming and setting the movie Everybody’s Talking About Jamie in Sheffield mean for the city?

Rebecca Maddox, head of business development (culture), Sheffield Council

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie has rightly been a smash hit at Sheffield Theatres and at the Apollo Theatre in London – it’s an infectious, uplifting story of friendship, love, individuality, struggle and courage, with fantastic songs and amazing spectacle. While the original Jamie came from Newcastle, the show has a real Sheffield flavour of humour, grit and kindness, so it is brilliant that city-based company Warp is filming Jamie in Sheffield.

There’s a starry cast including Richard E Grant, Shobna Gulati, Sarah Lancashire and Sharon Horgan – I hope they enjoy their time here! – but also dozens of Sheffielders featuring as cast and extras. A number of Sheffield venues are being used, and even the clapperboards have been made in Sheffield at Exchange Place Studios. Productions like this are great for the city on so many levels, including boosting the local economy and getting more people involved with film and creativity.

It will be good to see Sheffield given international profile by the filming of this important production, which will have a worldwide release. Sometimes Sheffield seems like England’s ‘best-kept secret’, but we want people to know that this is a great place to live, work and study – a creative, diverse, friendly and down-to-earth City of Makers.

Sheffield is also a great place to film, with a wide range of locations and with the best views thanks to our seven hills. The city council’s communications team can help with filming enquiries.

I’m sure the Warp film crew will do all they can to reduce disruption for residents and businesses as they film – many thanks to all the locations being used. Hopefully you can enjoy a glimpse of screen immortality for your neighbourhood!

Very best wishes to everyone involved in bringing Everybody’s Talking About Jamie to the big screen. I can’t wait to see the finished film.

Richard Knight, product liaison and education, Screen Yorkshire

Warp films, a production company based in Sheffield, became aware of the musical which started in the Crucible Theatre and realised it would be an amazing film. It is set all around Sheffield so it’s a local story and the director Jonathon Butterell grew up here as well.

Culturally, this city is amazing now – from the theatre scene to the creative industries throughout the area such as game design and the outdoor city title.

Sheffield has thrown off the heavy industry shackles portraying the area as downtrodden and dusty.

But the global perception in terms of film is The Full Monty which focuses on unemployment and steelworkers. It is an amazing story, but it is now a bit of a bygone age.

Jamie will be a piece of Sheffield’s cultural jigsaw and cinemas all over the world will showcase the city as being the place where this cool, modern, multicultural story was conceived and filmed. That will be Jamie’s legacy.

Financially Sheffield will benefit as well with the production team willing to spend a good chunk of the budget locally on location fees, hotels and accommodation, car hire, taxis, food, drink and general leisurely activities.

Warp also put a focus on local employment. So many people from the area will be working on this project, not just people being brought up from London.

But just having Richard E. Grant out and about around Sheffield will be a really cool thing for the city.

At Screen Yorkshire we support film and TV projects in the region and try to bring more productions to the area. We do this by showcasing the brilliant Yorkshire locations and people that work here.

Projects come to Sheffield because the hills give you amazing vistas of the city, which people who live here just get used to, but when directors go around the city they have one look and go ‘Wow, it’s amazing’.

So it outguns quite a lot of other cities by being really cinematic and visually interesting.

Now that London is so saturated, more projects are coming to Yorkshire and once Jamie comes out other filmmakers will watch it and be inspired to come and film here.

Paul Allen, broadcaster and writer

Let’s not get carried away. Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is a lovely story, uplifting and optimistic, and will resonate around the world because it is a classic account of success against the odds and celebrates human support for fellow humans even when there appear to be major differences between them.

And it’s a well-deserved opportunity for Warp Films to show what the company can do. Let’s hope they can also source the massive logistical support a major film location requires (catering, transport, accommodation) in the city too. It’ll be good for the local economy and, I hope, good for the city’s mood.

But it can only be one step along the road to make Sheffield a player in the wider world of the film industry.

Don’t forget, we’ve been here before. The Full Monty was shot here and went round the world. The jury is still out on whether that showed Sheffield in a good light or not: that story also celebrated humanity, resilience and ingenuity but the background was gritty desolation.

Other films followed, less well-known, but with the exception of Warp, the industry’s interest seemed to have petered out. We failed to get Channel 4 to relocate here because, proud as we were of what had been achieved, we still had a tiny infrastructure compared with our competitors. Sadly, as in so many areas of life, success tends to go to those who already have it, and more infrastructure had developed around cities that had been major TV production bases.

Jamie, like The Full Monty, is set in the less affluent parts of the city, and features a school with, let’s just say, its own challenges. It has the potential to glitter – Jamie’s ambition is to be a drag queen after all - but the job of a film is not to do a PR job for the place it’s set. It is to be a good film. However you define that, it’s something to look forward to and take pride in.

And yes, only one step forward, but better forward than back.

Georgina Truss, journalism student, Sheffield University

Film plays such a significant role in shaping the image of a city. Without ever personally visiting Glasgow, yet being a fan of the film 'Trainspotting' which was mostly shot there, I shall leave it to the imagination as to what kind of image I conjure up whenever the place is mentioned. However, I am sure the city has not only changed in the last 20 years, but the unpolished scenes from the 1996 classic hardly accurately reflect the city that holds 42 per cent of Scotland's population.

This being said, Sheffield may cling onto its reputation as the Steel City, shaped by its metalworking heritage. Male steel workers facing unemployment, and a working-class culture set against red brick terraces and clouds of factory smoke… the type of scenes showcased in the hilarious 'Full Monty' and the dark satire of 'Four Lions.'

These films, however, are a stark contrast to the topics covered by Everybody's Talking About Jamie, a story that explores the struggle of a member of the LGBT+ community fighting to change attitudes in schools around gender norms.

As society slowly moves towards gender neutrality, I personally believe that basing the film in Sheffield could not have come at a more appropriate time.

After a Bradford secondary school hit the headlines for banning skirts and enforcing a 'trousers only' rule, petitions began making their way around Yorkshire. This opened up the discussion for many in Sheffield and has encouraged views and opinions to be discussed.

Glittery prom dresses, a young boy exploring makeup and a battle for acceptance seems a world away from steelworkers fighting for their livelihood. But shooting such a film – featuring, according to the casting call, ‘people of all shapes, sizes and ethnicities’ - will not only alter the preconceptions of Sheffield in others’ eyes but will offer an opportunity to celebrate the diverse and open culture of this great city. One that has the power to fight for change and unity.