LAST weekend JB Priestley came home to Bradford, when a TV crew arrived in the district to film a new adaptation of his play, An Inspector Calls.

Cobbled streets in Saltaire were filled with cast members in period costume, actor Ken Stott among them, and a Birling family sign hung above the entrance to Salts Mill.

The drama, due on BBC1 later this year, is the latest in a plethora of TV productions and films shot here over recent years.

This week the district's film-making credentials have been showcased at the Bradford International Film Summit, attended by visitors from around the world. Organised by Bradford City of Film, the Summit has included talks and panel discussions on film literacy, business opportunities in film production, diversity in film, growing opportunities in children's television, and the launch of Made in Yorkshire, a month-long project encouraging schools, film clubs and community groups to celebrate the county's film heritage.

Throughout the Summit, which ends today, the focus has been on the benefit film-making brings to Bradford and the wider region, and how that can be built on. Delegates from other UNESCO Creative Cities worldwide have been learning about the role film plays in Bradford's social, economic and cultural life, as well as sharing knowledge and forging collaborations for the future.

There is much to learn from in Bradford. A recent report by Screen Yorkshire revealed that its support for film-makers had generated more than £20m for the county's economy.

As Peter Salmon, director of BBC England, says: "British fiction feeds the economy".

Mr Salmon, a guest speaker at the Summit supper at Bradford's Midland Hotel last night, said: "An Inspector Calls promises to be the latest in a long line of big BBC drama hits made in Yorkshire following on from Happy Valley, Last Tango in Halifax, The Syndicate and Remember Me. Also waiting in the wings is an adaptation of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, filmed (partly filmed in Otley).

"Yorkshire is fast becoming a second home for the BBC’s drama department - and it's not just about making gripping programmes, it's about delivering jobs and investment too.


"In 1900, Hollywood had a population of 500 people, one post office and one hotel. Aggressive tax collection in New Jersey forced film-makers to look for other places to make movies. Biograph Films made the first film in Hollywood in 1915 and had such a wonderful time that California became the place to be.

"It was great weather, great locations but ultimately great people who made Hollywood the preferred location for movie studios and movie stars. For the same reasons, except perhaps for the weather, Yorkshire, or should I say 'Yollywood', is going from strength to strength.

"Wonderful locations are matched only by passionate people who have helped shape the success of this region, from writers like Sally Wainwright, Kay Mellor and Gwyneth Hughes to film enthusiasts like Sally Joynson at Screen Yorkshire and David Wilson from Bradford City of Film who are helping to mould the business here."

The growth in film production in Bradford has been largely down to Screen Yorkshire's £7.5m Yorkshire Content Fund, supporting dramas such as Peaky Blinders and Jamaica Inn, both partly shot here. The Government's tax credit, for high-end TV drama, is a further attraction for film-making in the UK.

Bradford City of Film director David Wilson said there has been a sharp rise in requests for film and TV production support, and the team is developing film-friendly partnerships with local businesses and other organisations.

Howard Ella, producer of An Inspector Calls, which also stars David Thewlis and Miranda Richardson, said Yorkshire was enjoying a “renaissance” in TV and film, due to its diverse landscapes.

“You can do moorland or coast, period or modern, without travelling very far,” he said. “Bradford and West Yorkshire offers great period properties, and can be used to portray other cities, such as Bradford being shot as New York in the past.

“Finding buildings of a period that haven’t been changed is one of the strongest things this part of Yorkshire has to offer.

“It’s also really film-friendly. We bring a circus to town with lots of trucks, but everyone on location is always really great about it.

“It’s great to see Yorkshire on television. It was so busy here last year, and 2015 looks like being busy again.”

Choosing Saltaire for the mill scenes was, he says, a “no-brainer”.

“I’m a Yorkshire lad anyway, so it was my first suggestion. Saltaire is a heritage town, so nothing has changed. It was an obvious place to come, and it’s stunning on camera.”