How much money does film production bring to Scotland?

Michael Fassbender in Macbeth, directed by Justin Kurzel
Michael Fassbender in Macbeth, directed by Justin Kurzel
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PRODUCTIONS like Macbeth and Outlander contribute millions to Scotland’s vibrant film industry.

With around 40 per cent of visitors to the UK inspired to visit after seeing a location on film or television, the new film adaptation of Macbeth, shot in part on the Isle of Skye, is likely to attract fans from across the globe to Scotland’s largest isle.

The Shakespearean reboot is one of many movies that pull in big bucks for the nation’s creative industries.

Film and TV producers spent a record £45.2m shooting on location in Scotland last year. This represents a rise of almost £12m on 2013. Productions such as Outlander, which has been credited for a 44 per cent surge in visitors to Doune Castle, Sunshine on Leith and The Legend of Barney Thompson are just a few examples of the growing appetite for filming in Scotland.

This trend reflects the growing demand for Scotland’s rugged wilderness. An average of two films per year were made in the early 1990’s which rose to around six in the early 2000’s where it has remained since.

Culture secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “With our stunning, iconic landscapes, rich culture and heritage and skilled and talented crew, the £45 million production spend total for 2014 demonstrates that producers around the world recognise that Scotland has much to offer.”

She added: “These productions generate significant income for Scotland through the use of Scottish talent, crews, locations, transport, accommodation and through the impact they have on tourism.”

Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe); Jamie Fraser (Sam Heugan) in a scene from the "Outlander" TV series. Picture: Nick Briggs/Showcase/Shaw Media

Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe); Jamie Fraser (Sam Heugan) in a scene from the "Outlander" TV series. Picture: Nick Briggs/Showcase/Shaw Media

Creative Scotland’s review of the film sector in Scotland estimated that in January 2014 the number of those employed in film production was around 700.

Continuing investment is vital to the success of the industry. Current investment stands at around £8m with investment in screen around £24m. In total, our creative sector is worth more than £5 billion to Scotland, it employs more people than the oil and gas industry and has a higher GVA than the life sciences sector.

The success of tailor made guides to places of interest from popular films and television, which have become a regular feature on Visit Scotland, demonstrates the high levels of interest in Scottish locations. An Outlander section, which features a downloadable locations map and itineraries, has been viewed more than 175,000 times since it went live in August 2014.

Despite this, an inquiry by Holyrood’s economy committee found that Scotland was “lagging behind” UK and international competitors when it came to film funding. In response, the culture secretary has announced a £1.75m producution growth fund to provide an additional incentive for major international production to come to Scotland. There will also be increasing funding available for Scottish productions. “This builds on the £2 million Tax Credit Advance Facility I announced earlier this year and the £1 million Screen Skills Fund through which we are supporting training and skills development opportunities” Hyslop explained.

With our stunning, iconic landscapes, rich culture and heritage and skilled and talented crew, the £45 million production spend total for 2014 demonstrates that producers around the world recognise that Scotland has much to offer.”

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Scottish Government.