Written by on Jan 22, 2015. Posted in On Location

Scotland faces renewed pressure to build studio and streamline film support

The Scottish government is facing renewed pressure to develop a film studio and to streamline production support. Holyrood has heard that a lack of both filming infrastructure and unified Scottish support resulted in the HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones filming in Belfast.

Production professionals were addressing a Scottish government inquiry into the state of the country’s creative industries.

“Twenty years ago, Scotland had the biggest production cluster out with the south-east of England. Now it is probably fourth or fifth,” British Film Commission Chairman Iain Smith told the inquiry, in comments reported by the Scotsman.

“When you look at other clusters that are growing in Northern Ireland, Manchester, Leeds, Wales and Bristol, Scotland is now lagging badly behind. The producers of Game of Thrones actually wanted to come to Scotland. They knew it was bigger and had lots of locations, but the thing that stopped it was the lack of adequate shooting space.”

Drew McFarlane, of the actors’ union Equity, said that Creative Scotland and Scottish Enterprise needed to work more effectively.

“Northern Ireland has stolen a march on Scotland for some time now,” the outlet reports McFarlane as commenting: “It seems to me that what we don't have in Scotland, which we do in Northern Ireland, is one lead body who is fairly aggressive, out there trying to work on behalf of the film and television industry, and that's Northern Ireland Screen.”

Game of Thrones has been based in Belfast for the past five years and has had a massive impact on Northern Ireland’s production industry. The show has also become a key part of how Northern Ireland markets itself internationally.

The Scottish government has been considering plans for a purpose-built studio for several years. A shortlist of potential sites was revealed in March last year, but detailed updates have since been scarce.

(Images: HBO)


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