Acclaimed independent production company Fulwell 73 – makers of Netflix show Sunderland ‘Til I die – has launched a new regional office at the University of Sunderland.

Fulwell North will be based on Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter’s from October 1st and will be the base for the company’s activities in the North. It will focus on developing new programming, nurturing local talent and discovering new creators from diverse backgrounds on and off screen. Fulwell 73’s new location aims to help address the skills gap for those starting out in the industry and to attract talent back to the region who have roots there.

North East Executive Melanie Rainbow has been appointed to lead Fulwell North; she will work with local production companies and hire staff from the region for a variety of different roles at the new base, which will also provide a home for visiting Fulwell 73 staff from London and LA.

Fulwell North will leverage the company’s heritage in the North East and its reputation for creating award-winning film, TV and digital content in entertainment, sport, comedy, scripted and non-scripted sectors. The company is already in discussions with UK broadcasters about key commissions to be developed through its new office.

As one of the largest production companies now operating in the area, Fulwell 73 will establish a dedicated remit to support existing production companies and talents in the region, to allow for long term growth of the local industry, supporting other production partners to thrive and creating new career opportunities.

This includes a partnership with the North East’s regional screen industries development agency Northern Film + Media, who have an established media academy for students and school leavers starting out in the industry (NFM Crew Academy), which Fulwell 73 will support. This backing of upcoming talent and production companies aims to nurture a sustainable regional industry, to compete with existing North West and Midlands production bases.

Ultimately, Fulwell 73 aims to invest in a new physical studio space to house future productions to help rebuild the production sector in the region. It will aim to do so with the support of significant US and UK based partners, with experience in building, developing and successfully running major film and TV studios across the globe, as well as all 12 North East local authorities.

Fulwell 73 will be hosting a networking event at the National Glass Centre in Sunderland on October 11th. Senior Fulwell 73 management will be there to meet local companies and talent, including those early in their career, to continue building strong relationships with those already operating in the area, inform them of Fulwell 73’s long term plans in the region and identify potential collaboration opportunities. More details on this event will follow.

Sir David Bell, Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Sunderland, said: “We are delighted to welcome Fulwell 73 to our St Peter’s Riverside campus where they’ll be based in our David Puttnam Media Centre. It’s a wonderful opportunity for our students to be working in the same building as one of the UK’s most successful production companies. Their commitment to work with the university and other partners to rebuild the North East’s production infrastructure is a tremendous step forward.”

Professor Arabella Plouviez, Academic Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries at the University of Sunderland, said: “We are absolutely thrilled that Fulwell 73 is not just coming to Sunderland but is being based in our Media Centre alongside our media students. Whilst this is a real boost for the region it is also inspirational for our students, who will be able to get direct experience and insight into leading production company and how it operates. Fulwell 73 North for me, is recognition of the opportunities for further growth in production in the North East, a wonderful example of seeing what we have to offer and the opportunities here for the creative industries.”

Leo Pearlman, partner at Fulwell 73, said: “If you know anything about Fulwell 73 you know that our love of Sunderland (and its football club) runs deep. We’re proud of our North-East heritage, which is why it’s always been a dream to set up an office in the area and help support the film and TV industry across the entire region. This new base will give us the opportunity to collaborate with some of the great talent that we know exists in the area, create more opportunities for local talent there and longer term allow us to invest in the next generation and build a sustainable infrastructure to regenerate the region for many years to come.”

Alison Gwynn, Chief Executive Office at Northern Film + Media, said: “I am absolutely delighted that Fulwell 73 have chosen Sunderland to be home to their northern base. I know Leo and the team are hugely passionate about the region and making it a great place to live and work for those in the screen industries. And it’s brilliant to see Mel Rainbow heading up their northern operations. We’re excited about the future for the region and the prospect of more jobs and opportunities for those trying to establish their careers. We’re looking forward to bringing more of our partnership plans to life in the not-too-distant future.”

Julie Elliott, Member of Parliament for Sunderland Central, said: “I am delighted to hear that Fulwell 73 will be setting up a base at the David Puttnam Media Centre at the University of Sunderland. As an incredibly successful, award-winning international production company, Fulwell 73 has produced some of the most popular and amazing work, not least the Netflix series Sunderland ‘Til I Die. I cannot wait to welcome them back to the city – this new announcement is a tremendous vote of confidence in Sunderland and the wider region, and I am looking forward to the opportunities that this investment will give our community, supporting upcoming talent, existing production companies, local skilled workers and students at the University. It is a great time to live and work in the city, and this decision by Fulwell 73 shows the incredible opportunities available in Sunderland.”