As location managers and producers working in Scotland, we followed the story, “Edinburgh film agency funds cut despite city value” (27 February) and the letter of response from Gordon Robertson (1 March) with dismay.
We write to explain how Marketing Edinburgh’s misguided decision will be viewed by the film and TV industry. Cutting the Edinburgh Film Office’s dedicated film staff from two to one person sends only one message – that attracting production to Edinburgh is no longer a priority for the city.
Edinburgh has built a reputation as one of the most film-friendly cities in the world. In our opinion this is due to the cumulative work of the film office which was set up 23 years ago.
Edinburgh was ahead of the game. It was the first to set up a film office in Scotland, recognising that a small investment to market the city as a film location and to provide a liaison service with the council, police, residents and local businesses would attract more productions.
Edinburgh Film Focus (EFF) quickly became the blueprint for all other film offices to aspire to.
As location managers we work in very close conjunction with Edinburgh Film Focus. Even with our decades of experience of filming in the city, we still rely heavily on its support and advice.
It is through its careful liaison between council, police and residents that filming is conducted properly in Edinburgh, the Lothians and the Scottish Borders. Because of its professionalism and expertise we can, without hesitation, assure a production company that no matter how ambitious the project, everything is possible in Edinburgh.
It is the first point of call for every production coming to or considering Edinburgh as a filming location. Its quick and full responses, illustrating the wealth of possibilities that Edinburgh, Lothians and Borders have to offer have ensured that many productions accept Edinburgh as a viable location for their film projects.
Its location and crew databases and local knowledge are impeccable and second to none. EFF also serves a vital role in regulating incoming productions, ensuring that companies have the correct public lability insurance and health and safety measures in place to ensure filming is conducted safely.
EFF was responsible for bringing in more than £5 million to the local economy last year. Surely maintaining the level of service at EFF is crucial to our economy.
If Edinburgh Marketing has a hole in its budget after its ill-fated, high-risk Incredinburgh adventure, is that a reason to halve the effectiveness of an operation which has been a steady earner for two decades?
While we are sure the other staff at Marketing Edinburgh are experts in their own fields, we are not reassured by Gordon Robertson’s statement that there will now be 20 film staff, as we don’t believe they understand the demands of a film crew and the process of film making. Producers do not accept delayed responses and will quickly move elsewhere if they do not get the support and informed details they need.
It is essential to have at least two dedicated people in the film office who understand film production. If the team is reduced to one, who will be there to answer the phone if they are off ill, on holiday, or merely in an internal marketing meeting?
It is vital that we do not lose the experience that the current two dedicated film officers have.
Edinburgh Film Focus also provides a service for the Borders and East Lothian; who will represent them now? If, as it appears, EFF sits uncomfortably within Marketing Edinburgh, perhaps it should again become the independent organisation it was, affiliated to and funded directly by the various councils it supports.
In a highly competitive business, Edinburgh punches above its weight in attracting productions. If it wants to maintain its position as an internationally respected and film-friendly go-to location, it is imperative to maintain the level of experience that its film office offers.
We understand that Edinburgh Council is a major funder of Marketing Edinburgh and as such we think it is important that it and Marketing Edinburgh recognise the false economy of this decision to cut the film office service and that the likely consequence is of productions losing confidence and looking elsewhere.
We urge you to reconsider.
Location manager, Railway Man, Case Histories
Location manager, The Angel’s Share, Rebus
Producer, The Angel’s Share, Sweet Sixteen
Producer, Young James Heriot, Magdalene Sisters, Winters Guest
Producer, Cloud Atlas, Nanny McPhee, The Waterhorse
Unit manager, Cloud Atlas, The Awakening
Location manager, Young James Heriot, Magdalene Sisters, Burke & Hare
Location manager, Filth, Waterloo Road
Producer, line producer, Railway Man, One Day, The Eagle
Location manager, The Da Vinci Code, The Bourne Ultimatum, Stardust
Location manager, Cloud Atlas, Hallam Foe, Greyfriars Bobby
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Unit manager, Filth, Railway Man, Cloud Atlas
Line producer, Murder, Case Histories, Peaky Blinders
Producer, Case Histories, executive producer, Rebus, Taggart
Line producer, Doors Open, Pramface series 1&2
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Location/unit manager, Quantum of Solace, Mamma Mia, The Queen
Location/production manager, Looking After Jo Jo, One Day, The Borgias
Line producer, Single Father, Taggart
Unit manager, Pramface
Location manager, Cloud Atlas, The Awakening
Producer, Harry Potter Book Club, Global Launch from Edinburgh
Producer UK, Cloud Atlas
Location scout/Unit Manager, Filth, One Day, Case Histories
Line Producer, Sunshine on Leith, Outpost 3
Location manager, Shetland, Garrows Law, The Late Late Show
Location scout/assistant, Under the Skin, Decoy Bride, Trip Flip
Line producer, Neds, 28 Days Later
Producer, Single Father, The Flying Scotsman, line producer, The Angels’ Share