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Planned expansion for The Bottle Yard Studios into neighbouring Hawkfield site – credit AHR Ariel view of The Bottle Yard Studios

The Bottle Yard Studios and Bristol Film Office

Laura Aviles, senior Bristol film manager, Bristol City Council, is responsible for the management of The Bottle Yard Studios and Bristol Film Office.

Aviles sees a bright post-COVID-19 future, thanks to Bristol’s adaptability, reputation and talent.

What we do

The Bottle Yard Studios is the largest film and TV facility in the West of England and Bristol Film Office provides logistical support for location filming in the city.

We’re a team of problem solvers, many of us were production professionals in earlier careers, so we share an understanding of this fast-moving industry. Whether we’re supplying locations, permitting filming, accommodating studio shoots or coordinating city centre unit bases, it’s our job to deliver that single, consistent offer to film and TV productions.

We work to make sure Bristol is known as a competitive filming destination where almost anything is possible, thanks to the film-friendly structure so firmly embedded in the city. Bristol has been ahead of the game for some time and we continue to attract a sizeable portion of business, particular in high-end TV drama, which translates into more than £17 million per year to Bristol’s economy.

See our brochure here.

Connection to Bristol

Bristol is my hometown. I built my production career here producing content for many different commissioners and channels including the BBC, where I was head of production for BBC Earth Productions. I’ve witnessed the professionalism of Bristol crew and facilities first-hand over the last 25 years and watched Bristol’s filming reputation go from strength to strength. Today there’s a really buoyant energy in the sector, which is very exciting.

Favourite thing/place about Bristol

There are so many things I love, I don’t really know where to start. Clifton Suspension Bridge of course, such an iconic Bristol image that still stops me in my tracks. Top of my list would have to be Bristol Cathedral though. Nothing quite beats the peace and tranquillity of that stunning building, and I felt so privileged to see behind the scenes during the years when my daughter was a chorister. I am also very proud of the reputation Bristol has as a vibrant, innovative city where, prior to COVID-19 of course, there seemed to be a festival every weekend during the summer.

Laura AvilesLaura Aviles


With the broadcasters and streamers like Netflix and Amazon driving up levels of UK production, demand for screen content is higher than ever. In many ways we’re facing the greatest period of opportunity we’ve ever seen. But competition is fierce: other cities outside London are awake to the economic benefits of investing in filming infrastructure. If we want to see our success continue, it’s crucial that we feed the pipeline of local talent for crew and companies. We need to boost the number of young people embarking on careers in production and we must get better at pushing those entry level opportunities out to parts of the city where young people have not previously believed this type of career could be possible for them. Given The Bottle Yard’s location in South Bristol, we’re particularly committed to increasing awareness of film & TV careers for young people in postcodes surrounding us.

Future plans – for you and the city

Our overriding focus is the expansion of The Bottle Yard into a neighbouring South Bristol industrial site, which is undergoing a £12m redevelopment backed by West of England Combined Authority investment that will add three new stages, increasing the Studios’ total stage count from eight to 11. Works are in full swing and planned for completion this Summer (2022).

As well as three premium filming stages, there will be plenty of ancillary spaces including production offices, prop stores, costume/makeup and break out areas; in total around 82,000 sq ft is being converted. Not only will this increase our capacity and help us to bring in more business, it will create knock-on benefits for other sectors that thrive when film shoots come to Bristol, like hospitality, transport and tourism.

The main Studio site is also being improved by Bristol Council’s £1.6m investment in renewal works to make the existing buildings fit for purpose for our 10-year business plan. Overall, around 1,000 jobs are expected to be created over the next 10 years through a Workforce Development Programme which will focus on high-end TV skills and developing new talent in South Bristol.

The Spanish Princess season 2 films at The Bottle Yard Studios image courtesy New Pictures, STARZFilm set with actors in period dress filming The Spanish Princess 2020

What has changed since COVID-19?

COVID-19 brought production to a standstill in March 2020 at which point the entire film and TV industry was forced to reimagine production methods at every level. We saw big changes in terms of studio filming and location shoots on the streets, which my team supported. We put in place our studio protocols and location filming guidelines on COVID-19 safety. The speed in which productions embraced the guidelines and put them into practice was genuinely impressive. Cameras were rolling again by July and Bristol was at the forefront of the UK’s restart, hosting War of the Worlds and Pursuit of Love, two of the first high-end TV dramas to restart in the country.

By Spring ’21, we were busier than ever. We saw a 225% increase in high end TV filming for the first quarter of the year, with major titles like Chloe (BBC One/Amazon), The Girl Before (BBC One/HBO Max), The Outlaws (BBC One/Amazon), Showtrial (BBC One) and Alex Rider (Amazon Prime Video) shooting across the city.

Have Bristol’s values, creativity and independent spirit helped recovery and your future plans?

The Bottle Yard is a prime example of Bristol’s independent spirit, opening as it did at a time when alternative studio spaces were only just beginning to be repurposed for filming. The team here, the businesses that threw their weight behind it and the Bristol crew that welcomed it as a hub for production, enabled it to grow. Throughout the pandemic the professionals in this industry, many of whom are freelancers, have shared a common drive to keep working. In my opinion that makes them one of the most impressive and resourceful workforces out there.

What do you next want to see for Bristol?

Bristol has long been seen as a centre of excellence for animation, factual and natural history production. It’s now enjoying a golden age as a leading destination for incoming film and high end TV shoots. I want to go a step further. I want to see more investment in film and high-end TV drama in the city that will encourage more drama production companies to be founded in Bristol by local creative talent. I want to see more production companies that use Bristol as a filming location, physically relocating here. And linked to all of this, I want to see more young Bristolians getting engaged in industry careers behind the camera. There really has never been a better time.

On the set of The Girl Before at The Bottle Yard Studios (credit: BBC-42-Amanda Searle)Image of the actress on the set of The Girl Before at The Bottle Yard Studios