Film and TV ‘stronger than ever’ in Scotland with spending high

T2: Trainspotting was one of the highest profile productions filmed in Scotland last year.
T2: Trainspotting was one of the highest profile productions filmed in Scotland last year.
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Box office hits such as T2: Trainspotting and big budget series including Outlander helped spending on film and television productions in Scotland reach a record high of nearly £70 million last year, new figures have shown.

A host of movies and TV series shot in the country saw the industry spend a total of £69.4m in 2016. The outlay is more than three times the amount spent a decade ago, and represents an increase of nearly £17m on 2015 alone.

Culture secretary Fiona Hyslop said the numbers showed the sector is “stronger than ever.” However, the Association of Film and Television Producers in Scotland (AFTPS), a lobbying group set up by freelancers working in film and television, sounded a “slight note of caution” over the figure.

The sum, announced by Creative Scotland yesterday, is not broken down into individual productions, but a sizeable chunk was spent on a handful of film and television projects.

They include Danny Boyle’s critically-acclaimed sequel to Trainspotting. Shot almost entirely in Scotland, it had a production budget of more than £12.5m, according to Companies House records.

Outlander, the time travelling fantasy drama made by US TV channel Starz, remains one of Scotland’s most expensive productions. According to leaked documents, the budget for the show’s first series ran to more than £19m – around £1.2m an episode.

Other productions shot in 2016 include The Wife, a drama starring Glenn Close, Jonathan Pryce, and Christian Slater, and The Etruscan Smile, which features veteran Scots actor Brian Cox.

The headline figure also includes those productions which visited Scotland for location filming, such as Transformers The Last Knight, which spent several days in Skye last August.

Details of the spending comes days after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced an additional £10m for the industry, bringing the total investment to £20m next year.

A dedicated screen unit will also be established within Creative Scotland to co-ordinate existing and new public sector investment and resources.

Ms Hyslop said: “These figures show Scotland’s film and TV industry is stronger than ever. This is good news for our cultural story while bringing significant benefits to the wider economy.

“Production companies are attracted here because of our stunning locations and talented people. The additional investment announced this week will help consolidate this growth, enabling us to strengthen and better coordinate public sector support for the film and TV sector.”

The figures were calculated using an accumulation of those supplied by the Scottish Locations Network, plus information from Creative Scotland’s production inquiries database.

Belle Doyle, a spokes­woman for AFTPS, said: “We are pleased that more production activity is taking place in Scotland. We hope the ­current plans to increase investment and funding for film and TV will continue to support more production activity, but we would like to see this properly monitored and audited to ensure that the money is spent in Scotland.

“We would also point out that investing in better ­facilities such as professional sound stages would bring in more production activity, and therefore higher spend figures.”