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LS forges link with Big Apple and maintains Scottish ties

AN Edinburgh-based locations and production company which helps leading brands bring their campaigns to life in Scotland has launched a new operation in New York.

MARIE OWEN: Former air steward who formed LS in 2006 is expanding firm with an office in New York.
MARIE OWEN: Former air steward who formed LS in 2006 is expanding firm with an office in New York.

LS, which has worked with Karl Lagerfeld, Boden, Chanel, Pringle of Scotland, Glenfiddich and General Electric, will use the office to get closer to key decision makers in the creative industries.

The company, set up by former air steward Marie Owen in 2006, has based its Big Apple operation in the office of North Sea Air, a small production company headed by Scot Graeme Maclean.

It is hoped the partnership, which will see Mr Maclean act as "the man on the ground" for LS in New York, will produce leads for the two organisations on both sides of the Atlantic.

The New York launch has timed the launch to coincide with Le Book, the annual exhibition attended by influential players in the creative industries.

The invite-only event, which takes place tomorrow and Thursday, is attended by fashion editors, photo agents, art directors and brand owners.

It will be the third time LS has appeared at the show. Ms Owen said: "There's lots of exciting, happening places, but I think New York has just got the scale. The amount of companies there, the kind of work that's dealt with in New York [and] the photo agencies and who they represent, it is just the capital city of fashion and creativity.

"We get a good response from New York, in particular. They just seem to have a natural affiliation with Scotland."

The investment in New York comes shortly after the company invested more than £15,000 to brand the company LS from original name Location Scotland, and to relaunch its website.

Ms Owen said the new name gives the business more flexibility to market its brand as it develops different departments, and to avoid the prospect of it being viewed it as a company which only operates in Scotland.

Eskimo, an agency based in Bruntsfield, Edinburgh, was commissioned for the project, which received some backing from Scottish Enterprise.

Ms Owen, who recently worked with David Beckham when he filmed an ad for Haig Club whisky in Edinburgh, said: "We really wanted to make everything look very contemporary, with a little hint of Scotland, while keeping that real, confident and international feel to everything we do."

LS, which holds a stock of more than 90,000 location stills, has a current headcount of 10 staff, with freelance specialists such as make-up artists and camera crew called on when required.

It recently hired BAFTA award winning producer Sarah Drummond to head LS Motion, its new moving image department, set up to cater for the increasing calls from clients for film content.

Ms Owen said stills will continue to remain its core business, but noted clients were increasingly looking for content for the internet, such as behind the scenes videos.

The inspiration for LS came from conversations Ms Owen had with her husband, a fashion photographer from Manchester who would rave about the Scottish landscape and its possibilities for stills production.

She said major fashion brands love filming in Scotland because of the diversity of locations of it offers, highlighting that in Edinburgh alone there are cobbled streets, contemporary architecture and dramatic vistas courtesy of Arthur's Seat.

Ms Owen said: "I think there are a lot of clichéd impressions of Scotland, but in general people are really responsive to it.

"They are already naturally interested [in Scotland], which is brilliant, but then you can surprise them by the variety, that we don't all live in the hills somewhere, that there are actually thriving cities, architecture and amazing history."

The company is a frequent visitor to Isle of Skye, a favourite location for many visiting brands.

It is about to return to the Hebridean island for a shoot for the American edition of fashion magazine Elle, which is flying its team in from New York.

Ms Owen, who noted LS has about 200 stills of Skye on file, said: "Skye is incredible - the scenery is what really does appeal to them, it's so dramatic."

Ms Owen also said its work brings an economic spin-off, especially in rural areas .

She added: "We have got a rough feeling that 65 per cent of a project goes back into the local area where it happens, because we are using local hotel beds, local car hire services, local freelances, local catering, local restaurants.

"Although stills projects have smaller budgets than a TV commercial, because we are doing that on a regular basis, maybe 50 to 60 a year, the impact across the year is quite big to Scotland as a whole."

LS, which has been self-financed to date and is categorised as a high-growth company by Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Development International, turned over £1.4m in 2013.

It is projecting to lift turnover to £1.7m this year.

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