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Inside Track: My script for creating a dynamic film industry

As we approach the end of the year let's focus on film and consider how we can do better in 2014.

Creative Scotland divides £3.5 million Lottery funding per annum into six or seven films at a maximum of £300,000 each. We value its support. But who am I to complain? It's no worse than it's ever been.

While film is an art form it is also a business. Ever-changing global, political and fiscal issues make film financing incredibly complex. That's why every country in Europe except Scotland has a dedicated film agency.

True, many feature films don't have enormous box office success but the impact of making them is further reaching and significant. A dynamic and growing industry increases sustainable economic growth; affects productivity and participation in international markets; promotes culture and innovation; and enhances local development and social inclusion, not to mention the phenomenal effect on tourism. For every pound invested in film, there's at least a £6 return. The annual investment in Ireland (north and south combined) is £24m. This investment has created a sector valued at more than £800m with a knock-on value to tourism of more than £300m a year. Scotland is missing a trick. We need to develop a strategy that creates a breakthrough as soon as possible and here's how:

l Build the film studio in 2104, rooting it into the indigenous industry alongside permanent infrastructure. The Scottish Government has allocated £2m as a loan facility to develop the production infrastructure in its 2014/15 draft budget and Creative Scotland has funds ready to invest.

l Scottish Enterprise should create an incentive fund to attract international productions and stimulate inward investment.

l Creative Scotland to make progress with its applications for European Funding to boost production funds (like Northern Ireland Screen/ Yorkshire Screen)

l The Scottish Government, keen to see the film industry flourish, to invest in film production for the first time as it does with theatre, opera and ballet

l The Scottish Government to re-establish a Screen Agency, either within Creative Scotland or independently, consisting of personnel with expertise in film-related business affairs, financing, material, talent development, co-production, distribution and enterprise. Output to be more than 20 films annually

How can we ask for all of this in these times of austerity? Well, we reap what we sow. Scotland has had two major box office successes this year. We punch above our weight despite our lack of funds. We have the talent, world-class crews, raw material and determination to shine through.

Imagine we had a studio right now. Paul McGuigan's Frankenstein could be shooting here instead of in London; Star Wars co-producer Tommy Gormley would no doubt have influenced a move to Scotland where production is 30% cheaper than in London. Iain Smith might be prepping 24 here. Imagine the economic impact. Imagine if some of the Scots we've allowed to leave worked regularly at home. Perhaps if we build it they will come.

Gillian Berrie is a Scottish film producer of films including Red Road.

Contextual targeting label: 
Arts and Entertainment

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