A new feature film starring one of Scotland’s biggest Hollywood stars was filmed in Kent instead of Dumfries and Galloway after being turned down for funding by quango Creative Scotland.
Comedy drama The Carer, about an actor battling Parkinson’s disease and the Hungarian refugee who looks after him, was rejected despite stage and screen star Brian Cox being attached to the film.
Its Scottish producers were forced to seek funding south of the Border after a bid for up to £300,000 to keep the production in Cox’s home country was rejected by the arts funding body, which has refused to explain its decision.
It has taken Hungarian director János Edelényi more than seven years to bring his vision to the big screen – despite Cox agreeing immediately to take on the role when he read an early version of the script.
Speaking at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, where The Carer received its European premiere, Edelényi said he was still heartbroken at having to drop the Scottish locations – but said he was left with no other choice if the film was to get off the ground.
Cox said it was “tragic” that it was becoming more and more difficult for films like The Carer, which he said were dedicated to depicting “the human experience”, to get made and seen.
Creative Scotland has faced growing criticism for its stewardship of the film industry in recent years, amid growing concern about a lack of available funding and studio facilities.
Around £5 million a year is available to support film and TV productions, with the sequel to Trainspotting, a drama series about the serial killer Peter Manuel and a supernatural horror starring Celia Imrie as the owner of a haunted foster home among the most recent recipients.
Edelényi, who was joined by Cox and co-star Coco König at the EIFF premiere, said he was “very lucky” that the film was eventually made, with the help of private backers.
“We meant to shoot the film in Scotland,” the director said. “We found wonderful locations in Dumfries and Galloway, but for financial reasons we had to move down to Kent. In the end, we were very lucky to film there.
“We were not funded in Scotland, but part of my heart is still aching for the locations we found here. I sent the script to Brian via his agent. It was probably the swiftest turnaround in history. Within 72 hours we had a yes from him.”
John Archer, owner of Glasgow-based Hopscotch Films, said: “Brian was obviously very keen for it to happen in Scotland. It’s obviously disappointing that Creative Scotland didn’t fund it. They just didn’t like it. It could have been a financial judgment or a creative judgment, as the locations and Brian were in place and the spend for the industry would have been around £1 million.”
Cox, who has been making a biopic of Winston Churchill in Scotland in recent weeks, said: “It is much tougher for films like this now. There are a lot of good films out there that we just never get the chance to see. It is tragic.”
“Thank God for festivals like this. They are dedicated to the art of film. That’s what audiences are being deprived of.
“To me, it just seems to be getting worse and worse, but we keep fighting the fight. We’ll keep doing these films and trying to make them happen because they’re important. They’re about the human experience, which touches people.”
A spokeswoman for Creative Scotland, one of the main funders of the festival, said: “Due to business confidentiality it is not appropriate to discuss the details of individual applications. All applications are assessed based on the extent to which they meet our criteria for lottery funding.
“We receive an extremely high level of demand across all of our funding routes and cannot support every application we receive. We have to prioritise those projects that most fully meet the criteria and provide significant opportunities for Scottish-based filmmaking talent. We’re glad the film has been realised and wish it every success.”