Television and film-making in Scotland is taking off. And the BBC says it is keen to help – Angus Robertson MSP

Working in television or movie-making is a dream for many but it has been notoriously difficult to get a break, especially in Scotland.

Amazon Original drama Good Omens stars the likes of Adria Arjona, David Tennant and Michael Sheen (Picture: Jeff Spicer/Getty Images)
Amazon Original drama Good Omens stars the likes of Adria Arjona, David Tennant and Michael Sheen (Picture: Jeff Spicer/Getty Images)

Now however, there are signs that screen production is really taking off here and there are unprecedented opportunities.

Not only has it just been announced that the second series of global hit TV drama Good Omens will be filmed in Scotland but paid traineeships are being offered for people who are keen to be a part of the film and television industry.

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No previous experience is required, but if you are resident in Scotland you can apply for a range of roles where a wide range of skills and knowledge can be gained. The deadline for applications is this Friday, July 9, so there is no time to lose.

In an advertisement by BBC Studios and Amazon Studios, traineeships are being offered as a: production trainee, props store trainee, costume trainee, locations trainee, camera trainee, AD trainee, make-up trainee, grip trainee, continuity trainee and video assist trainee.

Filming is set to begin on October 18 with the production based in Bathgate and further filming locations in the Central Belt. Chances don’t come along like this very often, however there is reason to believe that screen production in Scotland is really beginning to take off.

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Things have been improving in recent years with the opening of facilities for film-making and the increasing drumbeat of TV and movie productions. Since the hit series Outlander began filming in Cumbernauld, there has been a breakthrough with studios opening in Leith and plans for new facilities inside Glasgow’s historic Kelvin Hall.

Ever-more streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ and Apple TV+ are commissioning billions of pounds worth of content round the world and join domestic producers BBC and STV in what feels like a tipping point for screen production.

For the first time, Scotland has a range of film studios in place and a growing support sector for film-making. This joins a long-established tradition of Scotland producing quality actors, film-makers and writers who have often had to move elsewhere to find work.

At the present time, an impressive range of productions are underway. Martin Compston is starring in The Rig, currently being shot at the First Stage Studios in Leith run by Jason Connery, having just finished the Trident submarine drama The Vigil for the BBC.

Other recent productions include filming on new Star Wars and Indiana Jones productions, a new Ken Loach film, a new Princess Switch movie for Netflix and others besides.

Now there is reason to hope that we can have a growing and sustainable screen industry producing permanently at scale for the domestic and international market.

For this to succeed, we need our traditional broadcasters to up their commitment, especially the BBC which continues to spend less in Scotland than it raises from the TV licence fee.

I discussed this last week with BBC Director General Tim Davie, who said he is keen to support the growth of TV and film-making in Scotland. Hopefully this includes the retention and enhancement of decision-making here too, including at BBC Scotland’s Pacific Quay in Glasgow.

The future for TV and film production in Scotland looks bright if we can support its growth.

Angus Robertson is the SNP MSP for Edinburgh Central and Constitution, External Affairs and Culture Secretary

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