Lights, camera, action! How Holt production company is helping put north Norfolk in the Hollywood limelight

Tony Britten directing Alex Lawther as Benjamin Britten. Picture: Regal Cinema Tony Britten directing Alex Lawther as Benjamin Britten. Picture: Regal Cinema

Friday, December 27, 2013
8:25 AM

Tucked among the smart Georgian architecture of Holt sits a thriving business that is steadily, but determinedly, putting north Norfolk on the silver screen map.

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Filming of 'In Love With Alma Cogan' in Cromer Lifeboat Station. Actor Roger-Lloyd Pack.; PHOTO: ANTONY KELLYFilming of 'In Love With Alma Cogan' in Cromer Lifeboat Station. Actor Roger-Lloyd Pack.; PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Capriol Films, which nestles among the independent high street, has been producing music and art features for national and international audiences for eight years.

In that time the independent production company has produced a string of titles - including In Love With Alma Cogan, the award-winning romantic comedy shot in and around Cromer Pier and Peace and Conflict which charted Benjamin Britten’s schooldays at Holt.

And the man behind Capriol is now working on expanding its reach while boosting north Norfolk’s standing as a Hollywood hot spot for locations, and a mine for off and on screen talent.

Tony Britten, who founded Capriol in 2005, said: “My home is in Norfolk and I think, like most people who have made their homes in Norfolk, you get very loyal to the place, because it’s got so much to offer.

Filming gets underway at Gresham's School for the film about Benjamin Britten. Writer/director Tony Britten (centre). PHOTO: ANTONY KELLYFilming gets underway at Gresham's School for the film about Benjamin Britten. Writer/director Tony Britten (centre). PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

“And it’s got a lot to offer a film maker. There’s lots of unique spots around where we are, which I think deserve to be portrayed.

“There’s also a lot of local talent and it’s interesting that I keep finding a number of people that have got specific skills.”

All films produced by Capriol are shot in high definition, and the company led the way in using the new technology to the point where Holt was recognised as a ‘birth place’ for HD.

Mr Britten explained: “Capriol was the first production company in the region to make films on full high definition, back in 2005, when we made our opera ‘Falstaff’ the drama ‘Peter Warlock - Some Little Joy’ and a documentary; ‘A Salaried Wit’.

“All three were swiftly picked up by Artsworld as it was - now Sky Arts, who had already decided the future lay in HD. In fact the channel director had a photo of an NR24 road sign above his desk with the caption ‘high definition started here!’”

Since the collapse of Screen East - the agency aimed at promoting film, media and culture in the region - in 2010, and the removal of ITV network production from Anglia Television, Mr Britten thought it was now down to independents to champion the district.

“I think we need to do a little bit of shouting, particularly with Screen East going bust we don’t have a regional voice, or centre of funding or skills training anymore,” he added.

“We’re the only region in the country that doesn’t and so I guess it’s up to the little guys.”

Almost all of Capriol’s work is done in Norfolk, from pre-production to editing, and it only has to move out of the county if a Dolby dubbing theatre is needed.

And while Mr Britten is now “gently moving” towards opening Capriol’s doors to third party ideas and co-productions, he said he would continue to maintain its independence and specialism in music and art projects.

“So far we have managed to only do things we actually want to do. If we were a big company then you get into that situation where certain projects come in because you have got to make the company work,” he said.

“We’re trying to avoid that and stay in the situation where we can be self sufficient and take on projects that really mean something.”

■ For more information about Capriol, and to buy its productions on DVD, visit www.capriolfilms.co.uk. Its films are also available to buy from Amazon.

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