Saturday, 8 September 2012

THREE WISE MEN: Birmingham Film Industry

Despite best endeavours we appear to have broken our New Year News Resolution - three months without an update! That might seem like a while but time really does fly and a lot of exciting things are brewing behind the scenes. Sceptics ask us "is they a film industry in Birmingham?" - we remind them there wouldn't be one without us.

Forty pounds, four football matches, and a bit of luck are all that stood between failure and the careers of three men who would become pillars of British film.

In 1921, Birmingham born MICHAEL BALCON, VICTOR SAVILLE and OSCAR DEUTSCH were winding up their failing distribution company. With the last of their proceeds the men dined out for what was set to be the final time and placed a £40 wager on the outcome of 4 football matches.

Amazingly, the bet came through, reversed their fortunes and became the springboard the trio needed to transform the film industry. Their careers went from strength to strength as their company, VICTORY MOTION PICTURES, began producing its own ambitious movies to  commercial acclaim.

When their successful collaboration finally came to an end, Deutsch went on to found one of the most famous cinema chains in film history, ODEON. By the 1930s the word had become interchangeable with ‘cinema’ itself and to this day the Odeon Leicester Square remains the foremost venue for premiere film screenings in the UK.

Whilst Deutsch transformed the seats, Balcon and Saville continued to take the screens by storm with the launch of GAINSBOROUGH STUDIOS (where ALFRED HITCHCOCK was one of their early protégés). Balcon would follow his stint at Gainsborough by taking the helm of the famous EALING STUDIOS in London, whilst Saville moved to the States and continued an illustrious career in Hollywood.

Together the ingenuity and vision of three Brummies shaped the face of the UK film industry, and the time is right for Birmingham to make its mark once more.