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Sri Lanka recognised as preferred film destination for British filmmakers

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From left: Chandran Rutnam – Asian Locations,  Nalin Perera – Tourism Promotion Officer for UK, Sunil Rathnayake – Teleview, Clara Le – Director, Focus Show, High Commissioner for UK Amari Wijewardene, Chaminda Munasinghe – Asst. Director VJP for Sri Lanka Tourism, Priyanga Kumarasiri – Crew for Shoots,   Shyaman Permasundara – Frames Film & TV Productions, and Jayantha Jayathilake – Asian Locations



With its focus on promoting Sri Lanka as an ideal film location for the British cinema industry, Sri Lanka Tourism took part in Focus Film Location Show 2017.  In the third year of its initiation, Focus is one of the top international meeting places for the international production community within the film, TV and commercials industries. 

More than 170 companies from 61 countries exhibited at the event, including film commissions, location providers and production service companies. Sri Lanka Tourism participated at this film tourism promotional event with a group of well experienced local film producers who have vast familiarity in offering all logistical arrangements international films shoot in Sri Lanka, namely, Chandran Rutnam (Chairman, Producer and Director at Asian Film Location Services Ltd.), Sunil Rathnayake (Chairman at Teleview and also newly-appointed Global Films & Television Productions Consultant for Sri Lanka Tourism), Shyaman Premasundara (Film Director and Producer at Frames TV & Film Production), and Priyanga T. Kumarasiri , Producer at Crew for Shoots.

The British silver screen is one of the busiest and highest valued film industries in the world with a production of over 600 films annually, producing global cinematic pioneers such as Director Sir Caroll Reed and Sir David Lean. 

According to Sri Lanka’s pioneer international film maker Chandran Rutnam, David Lean’s ‘Bridge on the River Kwai’ was considered to be one of the top 10 films ever made by the global cinema industry.  According to Mark Sweney from The Guardian UK, UK film, TV and music activities have grown by 72.4% since 2014, outpacing growth in other EU countries (26 July 2017). “The UK cinema industry is enjoying a period of exceptional success,” said Phil Clapp, Chief Executive of the UK Cinema Association. 

There were 70.8 million visits overseas by UK residents in 2016, which was 8% more than in 2015. British travellers spent £43.8 billion on visits overseas in 2016, which was 12% more than in 2015. According to the British Film Institute (BFI), British films shot abroad have a greater influence on holiday destination selection by general British holiday seekers at all levels. The above numbers prove that overseas films locations have greater impact on British travellers’ decision making process. 

During the three-day event, Sri Lanka Tourism together with Sri Lankan delegation created greater atmosphere by undertaking country presentations and fruitful networking sessions. 

Making a presentation on film tourism, Chaminda Munasinghe, Assistant Director of VJP at the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau, said, “Sri Lanka has been hosting filmmakers from around the world since before the 1950s. Our island nation offers a variety of spectacular locales from misty mountains with lush greenery, natural waterfalls, tropical forests, exotic wildlife and golden sun kissed beaches. Ancient cities and bustling modern cityscapes depicts the architecture of the colonial era, influenced by the Portuguese, Dutch and British. Most locations are approximately two hours from each other, making Sri Lanka the ideal film location destination. With our participation at Focus, we expect to increase awareness about Sri Lanka as a production hub and showcase our beautiful natural and man-made locations to the UK industry.” 

Shyaman Presmasundara of Frames TV & Film Production added: “This event is a great opportunity for the Sri Lankan film industry to reach Europe. Before the war, Sri Lanka was a popular destination for international projects but there are some lingering misconceptions about the level of security in the country. This will take some time to fix, which is why Focus is so important for us as a chance to meet international filmmakers and explain what Sri Lanka is really like.”

Sri Lanka’s natural film locations will especially have a significant impact during the process of decision making by British film producers and other industry stakeholders.  

As a niche tourism segment, film tourism promotion into British cinema industry is expected to uplift the overall number of British tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka and contribute a lot to the local economy directly and indirectly. 

Upon successful participation at the Focus film location promotional event in London, Sri Lanka Tourism expects to organise a location familiarisation tour program for selected high profile film directors and producers from British cinema in order to extend their awareness about the destination and showcase Sri Lanka’s capability to facilitate the British cinema industry. 

To succeed with the destination promotional campaign, Sri Lanka High Commissioner for United Kingdom, Amari Wijewardene and the members of Sri Lanka High Commission in United Kingdom offered their maximum support to Sri Lanka Tourism during Focus – 2017 in order to maximise the opportunities.

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