Feature films and TV dramas get green light to carry on shooting in Scotland as record demand is reported

Feature films and television dramas have been given the green light to keep running during the heightened lockdown restrictions – as it emerged that “more productions than ever" are looking to shoot in Scotland.

Rising Scottish screen star Silvie Furneaux, who plays Morgan, the daughter of detective inspector Annika Strandhed, on location in Helensburgh during filming of a TV adaptation of the hit Radio 4 series. Picture: Graeme Hunter
Rising Scottish screen star Silvie Furneaux, who plays Morgan, the daughter of detective inspector Annika Strandhed, on location in Helensburgh during filming of a TV adaptation of the hit Radio 4 series. Picture: Graeme Hunter

Screen Scotland has reported record demand for studio space after a booming autumn period since filming was able to resume last year.

The government agency, which has credited the “rise of streaming platforms” for the surge in interest, insists “high levels of protection” are being provided to cast, crew and communities where location filming is carried out.

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The Scottish Government has confirmed cameras will be able to keep running during the current lockdown period as long as strict social distancing and hygiene protocols are enforced.

Productions have also been asked to have the “minimum number of people needed to operate safely and effectively” on set in order to minimise risk in allowing work to continue.

The Scottish and Westminister governments have both given the go-ahead for films and TV shows to keep running despite a five-month shutdown last year.

The decision is a major boost for Scotland’s screen sector, which has been valued at more than £100 million for the economy in recent years.

Filming is expected to go ahead on the next series of historical fantasy series Outlander, a new supernatural thriller set on a North Sea oil rig which is due to be made in Leith, Annika, a marine homicide drama focusing on a Scandinavian detective and a second series of BBC Scotland’s award-winning black comedy Guilt.

Andrew Cumming's Stone Age horror film The Origin was filmed entirely on location around Gairloch in the north-west Highlands in the autum.

Other productions which filmed in Scotland once lockdown restrictions eased last year include new BBC thriller Vigil, which will focus on the Trident nuclear deterrent in Scotland, a Stone Age horror film, which was shot on location around Gairloch, in the north-west Highlands, and new Netflix rom-com A Castle for Christmas.

Isabel Davis, executive director of Screen Scotland, said: “Scotland’s film and TV industry is working stringently to the British Film Commission’s COVID-19 codes of practice, taking its responsibilities extremely seriously to provide high levels of protection to cast, crew and communities.

“Along with the need to provide audiences around the world with new content, the film and TV sector is a critical and growing part of Scotland’s economic recovery, thanks to the rise of the streaming platforms and the boom in content production.

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"Large scale productions filming offer opportunities, not only for experienced crew, facilities companies and other suppliers but also new entrants to the sector.

The sixth series of the Sony-Starz historical fantasy drama Outlander, which stars Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser, is due to be filmed in Scotland early this year.

“The film and TV sector is an ever increasing part of the Scottish economy, supporting jobs both directly and indirectly across the country and we have more productions than ever looking to shoot in studios and build spaces across Scotland in 2021.”

New Scottish Government guidance states: “Film and TV production can continue operating at all levels and under these further restrictions, but should be done with the minimum number of people needed to operate safely and effectively and in compliance with all relevant Scottish Government and industry safe working guidance.

"Film and TV productions are expected to take all reasonable measures to adhere to physical distancing requirements."In line with industry guidance, only a small number of people, primarily actors in front of the camera, should be required to work at less than two metres physical distancing without PPE.”

A message from the Editor:

Suranne Jones and Shaun Evans lead the cast of the new BBC drama Vigil, which was filmed in Scotland after lockdown restrictions lifted last year.

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