Scottish Government spends nearly £400,000 on 15-minute Edinburgh's Hogmanay ‘drone swarm’ film

Nearly £400,000 of Scottish Government money was ploughed into the creation of a 15-minute 'drone swarm' film commissioned to try to maintain Edinburgh's claim as 'the home of Hogmanay,' according to newly-released figures.

Funding was secured by event producers Underbelly secured backing from three different government funding pots for the Fare Well project, which saw footage of drones superimposed onto iconic backdrops of Edinburgh.

Filming of the UK’s biggest ever drone swarm was carried out on the Achnacarry Estate, near Spean Bridge, in the Highlands, for special effects inspired by a new poem by Scots Makar Jackie Kay.

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The project, which also included the creation of a torchlight ‘thank you’ image honouring NHS workers on Edinburgh Castle esplanade. was also supported by the city council, which has a Hogmanay festival contract worth up to £800,000 with Underbelly.

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The local authority and Underbelly have refused to confirm how much council funding was spent on the three-part film, which has now been seen by more than six million people around the world. It is thought the council’s contribution has at least matched the government’s funding.

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Edinburgh's Hogmanay film is seen by three million people in more than 50 countr...
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The government grants, which saw more than £281,353 and £98,460 awarded via Creative Scotland and EventScotland respectively, have been confirmed weeks after it emerged Underbelly received secured £250,000 in lifeline support from the Scottish Government to help the firm withstand the impact of the pandemic.

A government spokeswoman said: “In the very earliest days of the pandemic we honoured funding commitments for Scotland’s cultural organisations, regardless of whether activity had to be cancelled, reduced or rescheduled, and we repurposed regular funding to help with the COVID-19 response.

“Our support for Edinburgh Hogmanay has been provided due to its central role in the celebration of Scotland’s winter festivals, its unique potential to showcase Scotland’s culture, creativity and values on the national and international stage in these challenging times, and to enable audiences around the world to enjoy Edinburgh's Hogmanay while staying safe at home.”

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An EventScotland spokeswoman said: "We awarded funding to support the torchlight moment, the drone filming, and marketing and PR, enabling audiences around the world the opportunity to enjoy the magic of Edinburgh's Hogmanay while staying safe at home."

A spokeswoman for Creative Scotland said: “Edinburgh’s Hogmanay has brought together a wealth of Scottish talent including some of our finest musicians, poets, artists, to create a truly unique and remarkable moment - seen by over six million people world-wide - to mark the end of a highly challenging year."

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Deputy council leader Cammy Day said: “Fare Well was a beautifully produced and unique event, which I felt appropriately celebrated and marked the end of a challenging year. It’s received very positive feedback both here and internationally.

A tribute to NHS staff and other key workers involving in battling the pandemic was created at Edinburgh Castle esplanade as part of the city's alternative Hogmanay celebrations.

"It was a fantastic show to watch and it’s great that our Hogmanay celebrations can still reach many people around the world."

A spokeswoman for Underbelly said: “The overall reach of the films, which is currently being compiled, looks set to show that more people have engaged with Edinburgh’s Hogmanay than in any previous year.

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"The films sent out messages of reflection, hope, innovation and creativity, driven by Scottish artists.

"We hope that these messages and the extraordinary national and global reaction will benefit Edinburgh and Scotland globally as we seek to rebuild in 2021.“

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The UK's biggest drone swarm was deployed to create the special effects for Edinburgh's Hogmanay short film.

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