Scottish film industry in crisis talks

James McAvoy, right, and Jamie Bell take a break while filming Filth in Glasgow. Picture: Wattie Cheung

James McAvoy, right, and Jamie Bell take a break while filming Filth in Glasgow. Picture: Wattie Cheung

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CAMPAIGNERS trying to win more financial backing for the Scottish film industry may be ­offered a lifeline today – days after having a £3 million funding bid knocked back.

Leading film producers are holding crisis talks with the national arts funding body Creative Scotland weeks after its blueprint for the future of the sector was published.

About 40 production companies have joined forces to set up Independent Producers Scotland, a network to bolster the work of film-makers, share resources and expertise, and help raise finance for the cash-strapped industry.

Just six features films have been made on average in Scotland in recent years, despite the success of box office hits such as Sunshine on Leith, Filth and Under the Skin.

The only major studio is a temporary facility in Cumbernauld built for the American TV show Outlander, which is yet to be shown in the UK.

Plans for the new producers agency were revealed in June, during a summit on the opening day of the Edinburgh ­International Film Festival. It was described as a way of “parachuting in a super-infrastructure” to kick-start a revival in the film industry.

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The group was turned down for three-year funding last week despite Creative Scotland increasing its funding pot from £90-£100m to try to accommodate demand. Glasgow and Edinburgh’s film festivals were among the big winners in the funding decisions.

Creative Scotland officials have refused to make public the reasons for their choices, but have insisted other funding routes are available, including routes which already support individual film productions.

It is thought new “targeted funding” from the quango could be offered to the film producers to help launch their plans.

Film producer Gillian ­Berrie – whose recent productions include Under the Skin, Starred Up, Perfect Sense and Hallam Foe – said Scottish Enterprise had helped the group of producers draw up a business plan for their proposed model.

She said: “We were actually invited to apply for this funding and we’ve been effectively gagged since we put the application in back in June.

“We want to know the justification for dividing up £100m in funding and not giving a single penny to the sector which is in the worst state.

“We have come together as a group, we are now a company limited by guarantee and any funding we get would go into this new agency. Not a penny would go into individual film productions, it would all go towards supporting the industry infrastructure.”

A spokeswoman for Creative Scotland pointed to the recently-published film strategy, which said its “targeted funding” programmes would prioritise the development and production of films, documentaries and animation.

She added: “Our film strategy outlines exactly what our plans are for film and film production and what actions are being taken over the next three years.”

The Independent Producers Scotland initiative was formed last year amid mounting concern over the lack of funding for films, a shortage of major studio space and a talent drain to the likes of Wales and Ireland.

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