Scots national film studio ‘will happen but it’s not easy’

There are plans for a national film studio near the facility used by Outlander in Cumbernauld
There are plans for a national film studio near the facility used by Outlander in Cumbernauld
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CREATIVE Scotland’s director of film says she believes a national film studio will happen, despite criticism from key figures in the industry about lengthy delays.

Natalie Usher told BBC Radio Scotland the delays were due to the complications of working with the private sector.

The plan being considered is for a studio in Cumbernauld, close to the site used by the TV series Outlander.

Ms Usher, a member of the Film Studio Delivery Group set up three years ago, said: “We want a private sector led studio and we are committed to deliver that for Scotland. It is essential.

“It is notoriously difficult to make a studio work. We are committed to delivering it but it’s not easy.”

Creative Scotland and Scottish Enterprise have been in talks with a private developer since last year.

In the meantime, a second proposal - entirely privately funded - has been submitted.

Pentland Studios Ltd want to build a combined Film Studio and backlot on a 50-acre site at Straiton, Midlothian.

But Midlothian Council has so far failed to give planning permission, and the company has asked the Scottish government to call it in for further inquiry.

Ms Usher said Creative Scotland was happy to support the project - as well as developing a public studio option.

“We are open to other proposals - not just one thing,” she added.

“Pentlands is a mixed-use facility. It’s a fantastic proposition which we would be happy to see happen.”

But those who work in the industry believe Scotland is in danger of missing out to other more pro-active areas of the UK.

Mandy Sykes, who has worked as an actress and a director, said: “The backers aren’t going to be around for ever.

“This low ambition, ‘make do and mend’ attitude is not going to work. We need to raise the ceiling in Scotland or we will never have a film industry which supplies and supports and creates wealth for our workers.”

She’s one of thousands who’ve signed a petition supporting the Pentlands Studio, but she believes it doesn’t rule out a public studio as well.

“There’s room for both. This would start a system of studios but it’s important to do something now. It’s there to go. It just needs planning permission,” she said.

“We’re losing business at the moment. There were six feature films that filmed here in 2011 - and they all went back to London to do their studio work. So we got 0.6 per cent of the UK share.

“We are losing out on that money which would filter down to indigenous films and local crews.”