Edinburgh gets new film and TV champions

Burke and Hare filming in Edinburgh. Picture: Complimentary
Burke and Hare filming in Edinburgh. Picture: Complimentary
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A NEW body is to being set up to help attract film and TV productions to Edinburgh following criticism of cutbacks at the city’s main marketing body.

Marketing Edinburgh has unveiled plans for an “advisory group” that is expected to include leading film-makers, production companies and location experts.

The body was set up following widespread industry concerns about the city losing out on major productions after the marketing agency was left with just one member of staff to deal with film inquiries.

It will advise Marketing Edinburgh’s board, which is mainly made up of tourism industry figures, on what needs to be done to ensure the capital remains an attractive proposition to the makers of films and TV shows.

Cloud Atlas, The Angels’ Share, The Railway Man, Sunshine on Leith and Filth had brought stars such as Nicole Kidman, Tom Hanks, Colin Firth and James McAvoy to shoot films in the city in recent years.

But there were fears that a lack of expertise in the demands of film and TV productions would lead to the city losing out on lucrative work and that running a shoestring operation would send a damaging “signal” to the industry.

The new body, on which the city council and Creative Scotland are expected to be represented, is expected to be set up within weeks after plans were outlined to some in the industry.

The Scotsman revealed earlier this year that Marketing Edinburgh had decided to cut the dedicated number of staff at the Edinburgh Film Focus unit, despite it generating about £5 million a year for the city.

The plans, approved by an interim management group set up to run the body following the surprise resignation of its chief executive in December, were attacked by film industry figures.

They included Last King of Scotland producer Andrea Calderwood, Chris Young, producer of The Inbetweeners film, Andrea Gibb, award-winning screenwriter of Dear Frankie, Book Group director Annie Griffin and Rebecca O’Brien, producer of The Angels’ Share.

Edinburgh Film Focus – which has helped find locations for films such as Hallam Foe, One Day, New Town Killers and The Railway Man – was set up 23 years ago and was funded by the city council before it was merged with Marketing Edinburgh, created two years ago.

Marketing Edinburgh, which relies on a £1m grant from the city council, was forced to make cutbacks after failing to raise enough private sector funding. A string of senior staff have left the body in recent months.

Gordon Robertson, chairman of Marketing Edinburgh’s interim management group, said: “The main thing that we’ve taken on board is the benefit of working more closely with the screen industries, seeking their advice and talking about what works best for them.

“We’ve had a very positive response from those producers we’ve floated the idea with.”

Incredinburgh: capital marketing body seeks interim boss six months after last one quit

EDINBURGH’s main marketing body is to finally begin moves to hire a new figurehead – six months after the resignation of controversial chief executive Lucy Bird.

However, her replacement will only be put in temporary charge of the organisation and will be paid about 20 per cent less than her £100,000 salary.

Marketing Edinburgh’s board is thought to have agreed to the measure to help steer the body through a major restructuring process.

The body, set up just two years ago, was embroiled in a bitter row last year with senior figures at Edinburgh City Council, its major funder.

Councillors expressed concern this year after the organisation was given an extra £122,000 after failing to attract enough private-sector support under Ms Bird’s stewardship. She was appointed in March 2011 after heading the marketing operation at the Sage arts centre in Gateshead.

Ms Bird resigned in December, after Marketing Edinburgh came under fire from deputy council leader Steve Cardownie over its first major campaign. Mr Cardownie walked out of a briefing on the £300,000 initiative after Marketing Edinburgh refused to drop a string of catchphrases – including “Incredinburgh” “Wellfedinburgh” and “Paintthetownredinburgh” – devised by an advertising agency.

Interviews for the temporary post are expected to be held over the next few weeks.

Gordon Robertson, chairman of Marketing Edinburgh’s interim management group, said: “An interim chief executive will join us to maintain the momentum we’ve achieved.

“Our stakeholders deserve outstanding service and results from Marketing Edinburgh, which we’re determined to deliver. This person’s leadership is an important part of making that happen.”