Analysis: Lack of facilities has held Scottish film-makers back, but new studio won’t solve all problems

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THIS was a project I first recommended for funding when I was in charge of development at Scottish Screen exactly 10 years ago, evidence (if any more were needed) of the patience and determination required of film-makers in raising the money to get from page to screen.

The absence of “proper” studio facilities in Scotland is one of several factors which has limited the number of incoming feature films Scotland can attract and the amount that they can spend while they are here. The absence of a full-scale sound stage and associated facilities has also, arguably, limited the ambition and possibilities of what Scottish-based film-makers, and indeed TV drama producers, can achieve on their own turf.

It has to be said that Scotland has seen the sun rise – and set – on studio proposals many times since the end of the Second World War – beginning with Scottish National Film Studios (1946-47) through Blackcat (1984 – 1991), a veritable blizzard of competing proposals and sites in the early noughties (from Gleneagles to Inverness) and most recently the sustained effort led by Film City Glasgow.

Enhanced studio facilities alone, however, cannot solve all the problems facing Scotland’s film-makers, both those trying to get projects off the ground here and those whose livelihoods depend as much, if not more, on incoming productions and the work they generate for technicians, facilities and service companies (from lighting and transportation to hotels and to catering).

However, thanks to its Titanic Studios, a single TV series, Game of Thrones, brings in £20m per series to the Northern Ireland economy, which combined with a single feature – Universal’s Your Highness – meant that last year Northern Ireland attracted £30m of spend, which is significantly more than Scotland’s typical £20-25m a year.

• Robin MacPherson is director of Screen Academy Scotland, a partnership between Edinburgh Napier University and Edinburgh College of Art.