New figurehead revealed for Scottish screen industry

Isabel Davis will start her role as executive director of Creative Scotland's new screen unit in September.
Isabel Davis will start her role as executive director of Creative Scotland's new screen unit in September.
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Scotland’s troubled screen industry has been given a major boost after poaching one of British film’s leading executives to become its new figurehead.

Isabel Davis, who worked on Oscar-nominated comedy The Lobster, and Cold War, which won Pawel Pawlikowski the best director award at the Cannes Film Festival, will lead Creative Scotland’s long-awaited new screen unit.

Ms David, who is currently head of international at the British Film Institute, also worked on a new biopic of Frankenstein creator Mary Shelley, which is premiering at the Edinburgh International Film Festival this month.

The appointment of Ms Davis, who will take up her post in September, has been confirmed exactly two years after the creation of the unit was announced at the EIFF.

Ms Davis, the screen unit’s “executive director,” will be in responsible of a £20 million budget at the quango’s new body, which was criticised by MSPs earlier this year even thought it had only been running for a few weeks.

She will be charged with more than doubling the value of the industry - inceasing its worth up to £160 million - within the space of five years.

Holyrood’s culture committee has urged the government to ensure that the screen unit is moved out of Creative Scotland and is given independence status from the quango.

However the move has been resisted by culture secretary Fiona Hyslop, who was angered that a damning report on the screen unit had been published during the recruitment process for a executive director and several other roles in the screen unit.

Ms Davis has been appointed six months after the department of Creative Scotland’s director of screen, Natalie Usher, announced her departure.

She had been expected to oversee the creation of the new screen unit, which has been long demanded by industry figures in Scotland who say the nation has fallen behind the likes of Wales and Northern Ireland.

Ms Davis said: “The new screen unit represents a step change in opportunity for Scotland’s screen industries.

“With a doubling of resources to £20 million each year and a shared strategic vision, it’s time for Scotland’s talented film and TV sectors to fulfil their potential, and to create a highly attractive environment for incoming creative companies and productions.

“It’s an enormous privilege to be joining Creative Scotland and to be given the responsibility of leading the Screen Unit and promoting and supporting Scotland’s phenomenal range of screen talent, facilities, crews, locations and the broader industry.

“I’m so grateful to my amazing colleagues and collaborators who’ve made my time at the BFI such a wonderful adventure.

"I’m looking forward to working with many of them as I now focus on helping Scotland’s screen industries achieve the level of success they so richly deserve. I can’t wait to get started.”