Scotland’s film and TV industry worth almost £100m

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Filming blockbusters such as Avengers: Infinity War, Mary Queen of Scots and Outlaw King has sent spending on movie and TV productions in Scotland soaring to nearly £100 million.

The fantasy time travel series Outlander has also helped the value of the industry more than double in just four years.

Chris Pine will star in Outlaw King, which was shot in Scotland. Picture: John Devlin

Chris Pine will star in Outlaw King, which was shot in Scotland. Picture: John Devlin

Arts agency Creative Scotland has revealed a £26m surge in spending by production companies and film crews in the past 12 months alone.

The overall tally of £95m for the 2017 calendar year compares with £45m in 2014 and £23m in 2007.

Outlaw King – the Netflix production that stars Hollywood actor Chris Pine in the lead role – is the biggest ever movie production to be shot in Scotland.

Filmed in multiple locations, including Edinburgh, West Lothian, Aviemore and Glencoe, it is estimated to have been worth around £17.5m to the economy. Last week it emerged that the film, which will be shown on Netflix in November, will open the Toronto International Film Festival next month.

The same month will see the cinema release of Mary Queen of Scots, starring Margot Robbie and Saoirse Ronan.

Filming on Avengers: Infinity War, part of which was shot at several 
locations in Edinburgh, including the Royal Mile and Waverley Station, was worth about £10m.

The figures have been published by Creative Scotland to coincide with the launch of its long-awaited dedicated screen unit.

To be known as Screen Scotland, it has been set up over the past year since the Scottish Government agreed to double the budget of the film and TV industries to £20m.

Led by former BFI executive Isabel Davis, the unit has been charged with more than doubling the value of the industry from the £69m recorded in 2016 to up to £160m by 2022.

Creative Scotland chair Robert Wilson said: “Building on the sector’s achievements to date, these latest announcements deliver further on the promise to increase funding, build stronger relationships at home, in the wider UK and internationally, and increase capacity within Screen Scotland, working in close collaboration with the sector to ensure its success.

“With Isabel Davis joining us to lead Screen Scotland in a matter of weeks, David Mackenzie’s Outlaw King opening Toronto International Film Festival, the extraordinary feature documentary Aquarela receiving its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival next month, as well as record levels of production spend in Scotland, these are truly exciting times for Scotland’s screen sector.”

Creative Scotland has also announced the opening-up of a £3m broadcast fund ahead of the Edinburgh TV Festival this week.

Other major productions recently shot in Scotland include Karen Gillan’s debut feature film as a director, The Party’s Just Beginning, which was shown at the Glasgow Film Festival in February, and zombie comedy musical Anna and the Apocalypse, which screened at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in the summer.

Benedict Cumberbatch was among other stars to film in Scotland last year when the Sky Atlantic series Patrick Melrose went on location in Glasgow.

Some TV productions filmed last year have yet to be aired, including psychological thriller The Cry, starring Jenna Coleman and Ewen Leslie, which was shot in Scotland and Australia, and The Victim, a crime drama starring 
Kelly Macdonald and John Hannah.

Both are expected to be screened by the BBC in the next few months.

Culture secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “Screen Scotland aims to attract, retain and develop talent and businesses in Scotland. There is new and enhanced funding and support that puts Scotland on a par with other nations.

“Scotland has the talent and the opportunity to grow its TV sector and the job of Screen Scotland is to make sure we seize the moment.”

Jenni Steele, film and creative industries manager at national tourism agency VisitScotland, said: “Film tourism is booming in Scotland, with Outlaw King and Mary Queen of Scots some of the exciting new films set to feature the country on screen.

“Film and TV productions not only showcase the unique mix of stunning landscapes, rich heritage and fascinating stories Scotland offers, but can inspire set-jetting fans to visit, with research showing that one in five visitors come here after seeing Scotland on the big and small screen.”

Donald Wilson, Edinburgh City Council’s culture convener, said: “This is yet more good news for the city on screen, for tourism and importantly for our creative industries.

“It follows the recent raft of productions in the capital, which is testament to the fantastic efforts of the Film Edinburgh commission, and I am sure the decision is in no small part thanks to the city’s wave of success on screen.

“In the last few years alone, Edinburgh has been showcased on the big screen as 
a backdrop for Avengers and of course the small screen 
too.”