As part of a series of interviews with leaders in the UK creative industries, we speak to Hugo Heppell, who has produced more than 75 works of film and television – including Peaky Blinders and Official Secrets.
Screen Yorkshire is a regional screen agency with ambitions to build an internationally renowned screen industry centre in the Yorkshire & Humber area. Hugo, who has been part of the team since 2003, is the Head of Investments. He has over 25 years experience as a producer, and has worked on films and television shows including Peaky Blinders (2013) and Official Secrets (2019).
Hugo was one of a 12-person delegation of experts from the UK who came to participate in a four day event in Bogotá, organised by the British Council.
During their trip, which comes under the ‘Creative Future’ programme, the group participated in a discussion entitled ‘The ABC of the Creative Economy’ and visited the Bronx Creative District, the new Cinemateca de Bogotá and the Teatro Mayor Julio Mario Santo Domingo.
Following on from our interview with Louise Jeffreys, we spoke to Hugo, who told us a bit about his experiences here.
Related: Interview with Louise Jeffreys
The Bogotá Post: What has stood out the most for you during your visit to Colombia? Any particularly inspiring initiatives? Can you tell us more about what you’ve seen and done here?
Hugo Heppell: As a lover of film, it was a privilege to see the new Cinemateca, which I am sure will become central to film culture in Bogotá.
TBP: Could you imagine an equivalent to Peaky Blinders set here in Colombia? Especially when it comes to conflict and gang culture, which are topics that people shy away from here – do you think it is easier when it is further in the past?
HH: Peaky Blinders began as an exploration of the impact of war on the marginalised and the forces of law. But it equally comes out of a tradition for dramatising and mythologising gangsters in the UK (The Krays, Get Carter, The Great Train Robbery, etc.).
TBP: As Colombia invests more into the creative industries – the ‘Orange Economy’ – what impact do you see this having in the near future for the country?
HH: The single most important result of the investment in the Orange Economy will be the increased focus on creativity as a life skill that is and will increasingly be essential to a wide array of jobs,
TBP: Colombia has also worked hard to attract international filmmakers – has your trip inspired you to come and film over here?
HH: I was fortunate to first come to Colombia ten years ago to scout locations, and this trip has only served to reinforce my belief that it is one of the best places to shoot in the world.
HH: We recognise the importance of diversity and inclusion in the UK. One of the biggest challenges is the concentration of the sector in London which only exacerbates exclusivity. However, we have been working hard for 15 years to build a sustainable centre for the screen industries in Yorkshire, and with the recent arrival of Channel 4’s National HQ in
TBP: What advice would you give to the country’s many aspiring producers?
HH:Work with as many international partners as you can. Learn to tell local stories that have universal themes and dramatic journeys.
TBP: What is your overall impression of the arts scene in Bogotá after your short visit?
HH: I would have liked to stay longer to discover more of it! It was clear there was much more to experience.