Crisis in Scotland's film and TV sector revealed in dossier

A growing crisis in Scotland's film and television sector has been laid bare in a damning 20-page dossier lodged with MSPs.

Benedict Cumberbatch filming in Glasgow's city centre
Benedict Cumberbatch filming in Glasgow's city centre

The main lobby group for the screen industry north of the Border has warned the Scottish Parliament of growing anger and frustration over a “failure” to build any permanent studio facilities.

The Association of Film and Television Practitioners Scotland has bemoaned the track record of a task force created by the Scottish Government to get the long-awaited project off the ground.

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The only major studio facility in the country is in a converted warehouse in Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire, which is fully deployed as the main production base for the American TV show Outlander.

The industry is also said to be hamstrung by a lack of funding for home-grown drama and films, a skills shortage, an over-reliance on major productions filming on location at castles, and a failure to attract enough major film premieres. Fears have also been raised that Brexit will have a “disastrous” short-term impact on the industry and concerns that BBC Scotland’s new channel will not have any funding for new drama commissions.
A new Film Studio Delivery Group – which the Scottish Government, Creative Scotland and Scottish Enterprise are all on – was announced at Holyrood in May 2013 by culture secretary Fiona Hyslop. She said at the time: “There is clearly an appetite for a large-scale film studio in Scotland, particularly for one with an effective sound stage facility.”

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Although a film studio on the outskirts of Edinburgh was approved by the Scottish Government earlier this year work has yet to get under way.

The submission from AFTPS to Holyrood’s culture committee states: “The failure of the Film Studio Delivery Group is indicative of a failure to grasp the urgency of developing a solid and credible infrastructure.

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“Without professional, world-class sound stages to generate a constant turnover of production, it is impossible to raise Scotland’s status in this global industry.”

A spokeswoman for Creative Scotland said: “We welcome any constructive and informed dialogue that contributes to a successful future for Scotland’s screen sector.

“This can only help us work together with the sector to further build on the record levels of film and TV production spend that Scotland is currently experiencing, and maximise the opportunities presented by the developing screen unit proposal and the commitment shown by the Scottish Government.”