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Call for Scotland to set up own film studios

Scotland should have its own film studios to allow it to double the number of movies made,
a review of the industry has found.

The long-awaited study, Review Of The Film Sector In Scotland, says a "long-term strategy supporting film development, production and distribution is needed".

However, it does not recommend the establishment of a separate film agency in Scotland, along the lines of the former Scottish Screen or agencies in other countries, but a distinct film unit within the nation's main cultural funder, Creative Scotland.

The independent study, commissioned by Creative Scotland, carried out by BOP Consulting, suggests 14 objectives for the funding agency.

These include the "screen-focused public agency, most likely based within Creative Scotland, with a clear strategy and brand identity known internationally for championing and networking across the sector", as well as the target of doubling movie production in Scotland to 12 feature films a year.

This would be achieved in part by "more production funding and more active support for producers to find production partners" although it does not recommend a funding level, or where the money would come from.

The report says more films need to be made. "Scotland's film industry makes too few films to be a conveyor belt for success," it says.

"While there is no guaranteed formula for a hit film, Scotland needs to make more films if it wants to produce more hits.

"Setting a target to produce significantly more - say, doubling annual average output to 12 in five to 10 years - might be a useful approach."

Recent months have seen a series of Scottish or Scottish-produced films being made and released.

These have included Sunshine On Leith, the musical featuring songs by The Proclaimers; Filth, which stars James McAvoy as a bipolar, bigoted junkie cop in the adaptation of Irvine Welsh's novel; Under The Skin, starring Scarlett Johansson as an alien seductress preying upon hitchhikers; and David Mackenzie's Starred Up, a drama about a violent teenager transferred to adult prison.

However, leading producers and filmmakers last year warned that "lack of funds and support is killing the industry" and the report says film producers are struggling to make a living.

Janet Archer, chief executive of Creative Scotland, said a new film strategy would be in place by June.

Since Scottish Screen was disbanded in 2010, and its functions made part of Creative Scotland, the film industry north of the border has not had a dedicated agency of its own.

However, the report says "a separate agency is not considered necessary, nor is it thought likely that the Scottish Government could be persuaded to introduce a distinct new agency".

The funding spent on film in Scotland has also been compared to other countries - only about £3.5 million is spent on production and development in Scotland, compared to £52m in Denmark, £36m in Sweden and £21m in Norway.

The report also raises concerns over the £300,000 limit that Creative Scotland can spend on a single film.

The report says: "It is clear a sustainable industry would need both greater funds and a review of funding strands."

It also notes that "Scotland's infrastructure lacks suitable studio facilities" and this has a "detrimental effect on Scotland's ability to attract big-budget productions, other than for location shooting."

It adds: "Securing studio facilities would be a first step to placing Scotland on the world stage, but other steps would be needed too to make it a success: marketing, securing productions and skilling up to sustainable levels.

"Any new studio will need public support in its early years."

Gillian Berrie, the Scottish producer who worked on Starred Up and Under The Skin, said: "The Film Sector Review lays bare that the sector is clearly in a state of crisis and has been for some time.

"Together with the creation of the Scottish studio, and a funding increase of £15m to put us on par with Ireland, film could outperform other industries in terms of economic and cultural impact.

"The time to act is now and any procrastination will do further damage."

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