[Pictured above: Welsh Mountain scenery and new state-of-the-art film and television studios are expected to lure productions to Wales.]
The BBC is reporting that the long-delayed Welsh film and television studios project in South Wales started last week, after almost six frustrating years of set-backs and delays.
"Developers said the initial phase of the Dragon International Ltd plan would feature four film stages and work on a major access road."
"Construction on the first stage of the plan is set to finish by June 2008."
"Oscar-winning actor and director Richard Attenborough, who has been the project chairman, said in January 2006 the scheme would "build studios that have not been seen for decades throughout the world"."
"Organisers claim the sound stages and TV studios will make south Wales a centre of the UK film industry.'
A well-made short report on You Tube Video asks, "What happened to the Valleywood project? Six years ago, a consortium announced plans to build a major film studio in the Welsh Valleys, but things haven't quite gone to plan. Chris Doidge reports on the project's problems and its future":
The studio itself and it's related complex are expected to generate at least 1,700 new jobs at the site. Film studios and the film industry rely upon an enormous number of support vendors and suppliers and craftsmen, so there is also an anticipated positive economic impact expected over time on the entire region.
For example, the lengthy film credits at the end of every feature film, which a lot of audiences ignore, show a list of support workers, including everything from caterers, to florists to publicists to carpenters, needed to produce feature films and television products.
Wales's close proximity to London already gives it a competitive position in the UK media production market, and the lower costs in Wales when compared to southern England make Wales a logical choice for film and TV production managers.
Ultimately, the film and TV industry needs highly qualified and experienced workers in many support fields, but the bottom line of the production budget drives the choice of production studio location.
For years, U.S. and European film productions have been 'running away' to studios like Barrandov Studios (Prague) in the Czech Republic, because the costs are lower and scenery is splendid.
Wales's stands to challenge English and other European studios in their competition for film and TV productions for similar reasons.
Also, English studios are aging, built decades ago with now-obsolete technology, and are being threatened by other real estate encroachments in land-pricey southern England.
This is not the case in many parts of the South Wales Valleys, where former mining communities boost plenty of land for such development.
"Four film stages for Dragon International Ltd and the provision of the western end of the major access road planned to run through the site, are the particular developments starting now."
"These form part of the major strategic development site based on the film studio's development, for which planning permission has already been granted by the Council."
"Considerable work has been completed over the past few months, with the Council working with Cofton Wales and Dragon International to make sure that all the planning conditions have been properly dealt with. Progress has been good."
"It is anticipated that the work on site will run through until next year with an expected substantial completion in June 2008."
Cllr Russell Roberts says “ I am delighted that we will soon see buildings coming out of the ground at Llanilid. The Council granted planning permission some time ago for this site, but it will be great to see the development kick started now with the Silent Stages and the other major infrastructure works.”
"Cofton Wales, specialists in large-scale brownfield land regeneration, has announced that construction work will start at Llanilid, near Llanharan, on Monday 13th August."
"The planned work comprises two separate projects; the first is the construction of four film stages for Dragon International Studios and the second project is an artery road to service the first phase of a mixed-use commercial development."
"The scheme was granted outline planning permission by local authority Rhondda Cynon Taff in December 2003 and includes consent for a business park, hotel and leisure facilities in addition to the film studios."
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