Edinburgh is pregnant with a film studio child and is planning for a second. It has been a huge effort to get to this point with years of trying, but we expect our first bundle of joy to be born this year in Leith.
We will gasp with joy at the first child, get all the kit and caboodle (in this case, build up our facilities and crew). When we’ve adjusted, we’ll be ready for number two, planned for Midlothian.
Moving away from the analogy, it is easy for us to see why Edinburgh is a natural fit for film studios.
In the words of Joe Russo, director of Avengers: Infinity War, “Within an hour you can be at the coast, at the lochs, at the mountains. It’s a really diverse topography and with the right infrastructure, some sound stages, you could attract some really big movies”.
Do we want big movies? The answer surely is ‘yes.’ In 2017 the economic impact of UK studio-based feature films and TV dramas reached £2bn, with 400 crew on each production and sustainable support businesses built around each studio. Further, 78 cent of tourists want to visit places they have seen on the screen. Edinburgh is currently home to 300 production crew and 200 facilities companies covering the gamut of production: drama, factual, commercials and promos.
The film studios will quickly create more employment opportunities and make it more feasible for film and TV industry professionals to choose Edinburgh as their home and place of business.
Can we sustain more than one studio complex? Of course. Belfast and Cardiff have four film studio complexes a piece. London has many more. Such is the demand for studio space that new studio developments are underway in Oxford, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, London and the existing studios at Shepperton and Pinewood are being expanded.
It’s time Edinburgh got in on the act. It’s time to get our toys lined up.
Rosie Ellison is head of Film Edinburgh