COMPANY FOCUS: FOUNTAIN STUDIOS
What is the nature of your business?
We are the largest independent fully-equipped television studio in the UK.
How long has your company been in operation?
Fountain has been in operation for 21 years, originally with a small studio in New Malden. We have been at our current site in Wembley for 13 years.
How many people are employed there?
There are approximately 45 members of staff, all in key posts and therefore vital to the smooth running of every show.
What has been your biggest job so far?
We are adept at making big, live shows here, but one of the biggest, in terms of the size of the set and the facilities needed, is The X Factor and its complementary ITV2 show, The Xtra Factor.
We also recorded Friends at the Studios for the London wedding storyline, which was a massive undertaking, with crews working till all hours. One night the producers even ordered pizza for the entire audience, who were still there at 2am waiting for script revisions to be made!
How has the nature of your business changed over the years?
More live shows and the addition of ‘behind the scenes’ shows, made in conjunction with the studio show, like The Xtra Factor.
What makes your company different from the competition? How do you maintain your edge?
We are different because our studios are big but our team is small and clients seem to like the fact that they see familiar faces each time they come. It makes them feel at home straight away!
When clients use the big studio they take over the entire building and can use the whole space as they choose (within reason – we draw the line at knocking walls down!) We will hire out our studio space in the most flexible way possible and charge pro-rata, which makes us extremely competitive. No matter what dimensions the client requires we can offer it, anything from 3,500 to 13,000 sq ft.
In your time trading, what have been the most significant industry changes you have witnessed?
As well as the introduction of reality television, we have also seen a big increase in the number of live transmissions since our move to Wembley in 1993. These days our permanent live-link capability is being used more and more regularly.
As far as your business is concerned, what do you consider to be the most significant industry developments of the past 12-24 months?
As a studio provider, the increase in the number of studio-based shows has been hugely significant for us.
Similarly, what potential industry developments of the next 12-24 months are of most concern to you, in terms of the company?
The introduction of High Definition is probably the most significant development for our business.
On a five-year plan for the company, what would be the most important headings?
Installation of HD; taking advantage of industry consolidation.
What does technology mean to the business?
Technological advances are offering the client brand new, or alternative, ways of doing things, which means that the boundaries of what is possible in programme making are constantly shifting. Clients just expect that we can provide and operate the latest kit if they need it and it's part of our role as a studio to make sure we meet that expectation.
What is the single most important piece of advice you would offer to someone starting up in your line of business today?
Listen. Everyone has something to teach you, no matter how long you’ve been in the industry or how much you think you know. No one knows it all – a great team is essential.