At The Bottle Yard Studios, we are always keen to support and champion the outstanding talent that is based here in the West of England.

Back in September 2022, we were approached by local AD Nicki Ballantyne (The Catch, Bridgerton) who was working with Devon-based screenwriter Tom Moran (pictured above).

At the time, Tom was a breakthrough talent who had been marked as ‘one to watch’; his first full series The Devil’s Hour, produced by Hartswood Films for Amazon Prime Video and starring Peter Capaldi and Jessica Raine, was set to be released the following month.

Interested in moving towards writing/directing, Tom needed to prove his skills by directing his first, self-funded short film.

Could we fit the project in at The Bottle Yard, even though the booking was brief, and the rate would need to be discounted if it were to fit the budget?

Despite it being a busy month for us, with five high-end TV shows and one children’s series already in various stages of production on site – and staff also preparing for the opening of our expansion facility TBY2 – the Studios team went the extra mile to accommodate Tom and his team over a weekend, agreeing a discounted rate.

The result of the two-day shoot was Romanesco, shot on a single, 360-degree set with removable walls and a sliding ceiling. Described by critics as “a wonderfully mind boggling piece of philosophical cinema” (Directors Notes), the 11 min short film follows a woman as she contemplates an important decision while trying, and failing, to eat a boiled egg. You can watch it right here:

Not only was Romanesco Tom’s directorial debut, it also marked Nicky’s first producer credit and Barnaby Ferris’s Production Design debut. As Tom says: “Everyone worked on a voluntary basis, so the team was made up of brilliant, generous people who believed in the project.

“Many were crew members I had worked with on The Devil’s Hour, while others were friends of friends or contacts of our brilliant producer, Nicki Ballantyne. We knew it was going to be a tough shoot, so we needed people with top-level experience and oodles of talent who were simultaneously available for a weekend in Bristol and willing to volunteer their services for a small independent film.”

BTS on Romanesco at The Bottle Yard Studios

Cast & crew on the Romanesco set at The Bottle Yard Studios

View the BTS gallery:

Following The Devil’s Hour’s release in October 2022, the show received widespread critical acclaim, and went on to become nominated for an International Emmy for Best Drama Series. Two further series of The Devil’s Hour were commissioned and it was later confirmed that as well as writing, Tom would also work as a Second Unit Director on series two. We have no doubt that Tom’s directorial ‘calling card’ Romanesco, filmed at The Bottle Yard Studios, played a part in this progression.

Despite his success, Tom has talked candidly about how tough his path into a TV career was. Like many in the industry, he had to push through multiple rejections and almost gave up on his ambitions entirely to become a teacher, before he eventually found success (read more in his interview with Drama Quarterly).

Laura Aviles, Head of Film (Bristol City Council) says: “This is an incredibly tough industry to break into and that’s why it is really important that we have a regional filming infrastructure that supports the career growth of homegrown talent like Tom.

“The Bottle Yard Studios team always strives to support talent from the region, whether by finding a shooting space that can work for a particular budget or opening doors for local entrants looking to move into production careers. Launching the new WECA-funded West of England Film and HETV Workforce Development Programme in partnership with Bristol UNESCO City of Film and Bristol Film Office has been a major step forward in this area and one that we are proud to have made happen.

“We’ll be watching Tom’s career with interest and really hope to welcome him back to The Bottle Yard Studios one day with a new TV or feature film project.”

After premiering last year on Directors Notes, Romanesco went on to screen at the Oxford International Film Festival in December and last weekend was part of the official selection for London’s Crystal Palace International Film Festival. It has also been selected for Beeston Film Festival in April.