Oscar-winner says Scotland needs to tell Hollywood it’s ‘more than just a pretty place’

Ian Hunter says Scotland should focus on finding empty warehouses to use for productions rather pursuing a new studio complex. 'Picture: Paul Campbell
Ian Hunter says Scotland should focus on finding empty warehouses to use for productions rather pursuing a new studio complex. 'Picture: Paul Campbell
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One of Hollywood’s leading special effects experts says Scotland needs to tell the world it is more than just “a pretty location” for film and TV locations – and urged it to set its sights of securing productions set in space.

Double Oscar-winner Ian Hunter, whose films include Interstellar, The Dark Knight, Night at the Museum and Inception, suggested the industry focus on finding empty warehouses which could be used for productions rather pursuing a new studio complex, like the one which developers have been pursuing for two different sites in Midlothian in recent years.

Producers want tax breaks, they want a support system and they want somewhere that’s friendly

IAN HUNTER

Speaking during a visit to the Highlands, Hunter said Outlander, the only international TV series being made in Scotland, had put the country on the radar of Hollywood with its showcasing of wilderness areas and historic sites, but suggested it was over-reliant on selling remote locations.

He urged the industry to do more to encourage careers in film and TV, do more to promote modern-day Scotland, and highlight the historic architecture which could stand in for other countries.

In an interview at the creative industries conference XpoNorth, in Inverness, Hunter said: “Outlander has put Scotland on the map, particularly in the US. Producers are looking at it and thinking: ‘It’s a beautiful place – if I need to make a movie that looks like that I’ll go there.’ But there has to be more promotion that it’s not just a pretty location.

“Scotland has lot of buildings which are period authentic and can become locations in France and Spain. It also needs to get the word of mouth out that it is a cosmopolitan place, as well as rural, that it’s a small country and that it is also a short trip from England, where there are skilled crews.

“It’s surprising Scotland doesn’t have a studio, but I don’t think ‘build it and they will come’ should be the approach.

“It’s about offering other incentives. Producers want tax breaks, they want a support system to be in place and they want somewhere that’s friendly to shoot in. Other studios can be busy and full. They are constantly looking for new places to film in.

“Existing warehouses in Scotland should be used as much as possible to build up a client base and generate enough revenue to justify the building of a new studio. Any space that is sufficiently large to shoot in can become a stage.

“Scotland is definitely on the radar for film and TV productions, but primarily as a location.

“There is a much broader need for content for streaming service like Amazon and Netflix. Outlander and Game of Thrones have proven there is market for people who aren’t looking for story-driven content rather than superhero movies and spectacle.

“There should be room for another Outlander, but not a location-based show. There’s no reason why Scotland couldn’t have a spaced-based show or a contemporary crime drama.”