THE director of the Disney-Pixar film that brought Scotland to the big screen has received a new global honour at Scotland’s “tourism Oscars.”
The surprise recognition for Mark Andrews, who spent six years making Brave after an initial recce of landmark locations across the country, was recognised just weeks before its DVD release is set to trigger a fresh wave of hype about the film.
Although he was not able to attend VisitScotland’s Scottish Thistle Awards in Glasgow, he sent a message recorded earlier this week while on a promotional visit to London.
He is the first recipient of the new Global Scottish Thistle Award – which will be handed out by VisitScotland to people who have helped put Scotland on the world stage.
Speaking exclusively to The Scotsman, Mr Andrews told how spectacular locations such as the Old Man of Storr and the Fairy Glen on Skye, the Callanish Stones on Lewis, and Dunnadd Hill Fort, in Argyll, inspired him and his team in the early stages of the film-making process.
Previously the highest honours given out at the Scottish Thistle Awards – which were cancelled last year for a major overhaul of the event by VisitScotland – have been lifetime achievement awards.
This year, the Silver Thistle prize for services to the industry has been awarded to Ian Cleaver, the boss of an Argyll-based coach tour company, Highland Heritage. He is still at the helm of the firm at the age of 73.
Brave, an animated fantasy set in an ancient Scottish Highlands, has been rated alongside the Ryder Cup and the Commonwealth Games for its importance to the industry by VisitScotland.
Mr Andrews said: “The award is absolutely fantastic for me to receive. I understand it’s for raising global awareness of Scotland, which is a huge honour, especially as I have Scottish ancestry, have been to Scotland a lot on holiday and even had my honeymoon there.
“We were interested in the stories behind amazing places like the Fairy Glen on the Isle of Skye and the Callanish stones on Lewis, and I can remember going to Dunadd Hill, where the ancient hill fort is, on the west coast of Argyll, and there is a spot for you to stand carved out of the rock where you can look over the whole landscape. You could obviously do research in books, but you really had to go there to get the complete sense of magic and mystery. You can understand why the landscape has inspired so many people.”
VisitScotland’s chairman Mike Cantlay said: “Throughout the last year Mark’s film has catapulted Scotland into the hearts and minds of millions of potential visitors from around the world, and it was only right that we honour the mastermind behind this beautiful work.”
Award winners 2012
Global Thistle Award Mark Andrews, Pixar
Silver Thistle Award Ian Cleaver, Highland Heritage
Best Hotel Award Blythswood Square, Glasgow
Best Visitor Attraction Award Historic Scotland – Stirling Castle
Best Cultural Event Award Celtic Connections, Glasgow
Best Sporting Event Award Loch Ness Marathon & Festival of Running
Best Shopping Experience Award Thistle ‘B’ Scrumptious, Castle Douglas
Best Nature-based Experience Award Scottish Seabird Centre, North Berwick
Training and Skills Development Award Cairngorm Mountain, Aviemore
Tourism Entrepreneur Award Auchrannie Resort, Isle of Arran, Brodick