Steven Knight, who brought the Shelby street gang’s exploits to television screens through the hit BBC series, said the call for the forthcoming movie’s extras would also be going out shortly, adding “all you need is a haircut – and a cap”.
He was speaking at the announcement on Tuesday, of a new “world-beating” film studio complex in the city – a former canal-side warehouse now being overhauled under the name Digbeth Loc Studios.
It is fertile soil, it’s a young city, a creative city.
Knight said he already has a “mind-blowing” pipeline of productions coming through, adding it would grow the city’s nascent film and television production industry.
Building work starts on site – including production offices – in the heart of the city’s creative quarter in Digbeth this week, and will be completed by the middle of summer and ready for filming from October.
The main studio building is also set to provide one of the key filming locations for the Peaky Blinders’ silver screen sequel, with Knight and city leaders citing their ambitions “to plant an industry” in Birmingham which will “draw in story-tellers from across the world”.
Speaking of the forthcoming movie, Knight said: “I am embargoed from giving dates and times – but Peaky Blinders movie will be in there.
Knight is also nearing the end of filming for television drama This Town for the BBC, which charts two-tone and ska music in the 1980s, and has also been partly shot in neighbouring Coventry – home to bands The Specials, and The Selecter.
He previously called the series a “love letter to Birmingham and Coventry”, adding production was “nearly finished”, and “looking amazing”.
Turning to the wider goals of the studio project, he said: “What we’re doing here is taking the remains of industries that have gone and planting a brand-new industry here.
“It is fertile soil, it’s a young city, a creative city.”
The studio development project – a joint venture between Knight and Piers Read, who runs Time+Space – has attracted £1.3 million in public money, through the city deal fund.
The money is the result of an agreement between Birmingham City Council and Homes England, to pull together commercial land for the creative sector.
As well boosting filming and production capacity, the location will also house music studios, which will be taken up by band UB40 – some of whose members were present for the announcement.
The Digbeth building will be “Phase One” of a larger three-phase project, which will eventually see the construction of two more purpose-built studio buildings, nearby.
Knight said: “So we’ve got real ambition, and big productions are going to come and it’s going to change the nature of the opportunities for people in this city.
“We’ve hit the ground running, we’ve kicked off with MasterChef, we’ve kicked off with a big BBC drama (This Town) – which will go international.
“I wish I could announce the things that are coming, because there’s a pipeline of productions that are coming, that are quite mind-blowing.
“I can’t announce them, yet.
“But they are coming and it’s going to be great.”
He said Hollywood “loves shooting in the UK”, adding: “Birmingham offers loads of backlot and locations, which are great.
“What we want to do is offer them studios, production offices and edit suites that are better – not just technically.
“(Film-making) is long hours, it is physical, all-weathers… but what no-one really does is make a facility where that is taken into account.
“So, we’re going to have a hotel here where a certain number of the rooms can be allocated to productions and we’re right in the middle of the city, so you’re not filming in a muddy field.”
The project’s backers and partners, including a film school, are also planning to select students from local neighbourhoods like Aston, and fund their training, “to make sure our neighbourhood is also a place where our crew and staff come from,” Knight said.
West Midlands mayor Andy Street, also at the launch, said it was a “landmark moment” for the city and region.
He added: “This is about new jobs and new opportunities in a sector where perhaps Birmingham and the West Midlands perhaps hasn’t been as strong as it could be.”
Asked if the mayor himself might be appearing in a flat cap in the forthcoming Peaky Blinders movie, he replied “who knows, you’ll have to ask him”.