Written by Murray Ashton on Nov 29, 2011. Posted in Interviews

Filming in Tay & Fife with local film office head Julie Craik

Julie's legal and financial background led her to the media sector. She was  involved in the original project finance for Sky, major acquisitions by the advertising group WPP and film finance for such features as The Last Great Emperor.

A Scot hailing from Botswana and Uganda, Julie returned to Dundee for family reasons. She was asked to head up the fledgling FifeScreen & TayScreen film office in 2002.

Tell me about Tay and Fife.

FifeScreen & TayScreen is the screen office for the Councils of Angus, Dundee, Fife and Perth & Kinross. We also co-ordinate a major EUR6 million EU project called North Sea Screen Partners.

Dundee College has outstanding media production facilities built into the GBP48 million refurbishment of its Gardyne Campus.

Fife and Tayside covers a fifth of Scotland and goes from the Forth Bridges to the Highlands and from central Scotland to the east coast. Locations range across highland to coastal, rural to urban,  castles, mansions, rivers, rapids, mountains, cliffs, beaches and of course golf. Iconic locations are the home of golf, St Andrews, the castles of Blair, Glamis and Scone, the city of Dundee and Scotland’s national motor racing circuit at Knockhill.

There is a growing number of crew based in the region. The area is also highly accessible for crew based elsewhere. For example, Fife is only 15 minutes from Edinburgh, and both Fife and Perthshire can be reached in an hour from Glasgow.

There are commercially-available TV studios and post-production facilities on the campuses in Adam Smith and Dundee Colleges. Through the University of Dundee, North Sea Screen Partners has established the Visual Effects Research lab, recently opened by Hollywood actor and Dundee native, Brian Cox.

We attract a significant amount of TV projects, music promos and some wonderful advertising, especially for cars and fashion.

Dundee College has outstanding media production facilities built into the GBP48 million refurbishment of its Gardyne Campus and newly opened in August 2011. Those facilities include digital television and radio studios, industry-standard editing suites, digital image manipulation suites, a fully operational sound studio for film, animation and television, and a rare motion capture suite for animation. The campus also hosts a 375-seat theatre with full sound production equipment.

What locations are most commonly used by film and TV crews when they film here?

In addition to golf there are castles, coastal cliffs, mansions, mountains and wilderness (that’s amazingly quick to reach). We also get projects using both historic and contemporary urban landscapes such as those in Dundee, Dunfermline, Perth and Montrose.

What types of production do you work on most?

We attract a significant amount of TV projects, music promos and some wonderful advertising, especially for cars and fashion – Aston Martin really liked it here. On the film front the most recent projects have been Paramount's Captain America, directed by Joe Johnston, and United 7 Entertainment's Bollywood movie Tezz, starring Slumdog Millionaire’s Anil Kapoor.

Is there anything else you would like to share about filming in your region?

It is generally possible to achieve very fast turnaround from pre-production to production and we do help projects with same-day or next-day production requirements. It’s preferable if we can have at least a week’s (ideally a fortnight's) notice.

If projects need to use roads we do have some good sections of private and disused roads and it’s possible to use them without formal closure, provided road traffic control is put in place. Like all places in the UK and Scotland, if a road closure is needed you need to allow at least six weeks. It’s a legal requirement and not something that councils can override.

We’re subject to the same immigration and work permit positions as the whole of the UK.

Which are the best airports to use to film in Tay & Fife and who flies there?

To get here there are direct flights from London City, Birmingham and Belfast into Dundee (around an hour or less), and the region is around 15 minutes from Edinburgh Airport, 45 minutes from Aberdeen Airport and 60 minutes from Glasgow. There are also airports for private flights at Glenrothes in Fife and at Perth.

The airport at Dundee is small and friendly. All these airports are subject to the general customs requirements operating in the UK and we are pleased to assist with specific information as relevant to each project.

What are the most film-crew-friendly hotels in your region?

There are numerous great hotels in Fife and Tayside to suit all budgets. World-class hotels include Gleneagles in Perthshire and the Old Course and Fairmont at St Andrews. There are rock-star-style mansions that can be rented such as Guthrie and Kinnettles in Angus. In Dundee the hotels range from the graceful mansion that is the Invercarse to the mix of historic and contemporary at the Landmark Hotel and urban chic at the Apex.

For wrap parties I suggest starting at one end of Fife and keeping it going all week till you’ve covered them all.

What do you do when you have time off and what would you recommend film crew and cast to do to relax?

Personally I’m into live music, golf and photography, and my friends are into mountaineering, rock-climbing, fishing, diving and night clubs. Actually you can do it all here and have a flutter at the casinos if you’re feeling lucky.

The great thing is you can do all these things without travelling far. To quote our famous son JM Barrie (Peter Pan):

“Of all delectable islands the Neverland is the snuggest and most compact; not large and sprawly, you know, with tedious distances between one adventure and another; but nicely compact.”

If you had not become the project manager for Tayscreen & FifeScreen what would you have done instead?

Call me a geek but I am fascinated with finance and technology and would be working in those fields, economic crisis permitting!


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