If you were an alien, descending on Scotland (perhaps a little like Scarlet Johansson in the extraordinary new movie Under The Skin) and read the reports on how a major international film studio wanted to build a new facility here but instead was discouraged and decided to build it in Wales, you could from your objective, external viewpoint arrive at two conclusions.
One, that Scotland just did not want the studio, or, second, the powers that be just did not want it enough. The exact details of how Pinewood came to discard its idea of building a major new facility in Glasgow, and instead plump for a location in Cardiff Bay are now the subject of several Freedom of Information inquiries. It will be interesting to see what they reveal.
Especially because losing the chance of landing Pinewood was not only a depressing blow to Scottish film makers and producers but also looks, on the face of it, a signal failure by the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise and Creative Scotland.
Remember what Wales is receiving in return for playing host to the world famous studio: a four-stage, 180,000sq ft complex, sited near Cardiff Bay which will be worth, it is estimated, £90m to the Welsh economy. Films and TV shows will now be made in Wales that could have been made in Scotland. The commitment to the studio is for five years, and in addition Welsh ministers announced a £30m film and TV fund, on which Pinewood will advise. Wales wanted to make it happen. By contrast, it appears the powers that be in Scotland overwhelmed the prospective studio-builders and employers with waves of indifference.
One source, with knowledge of Pinewood's adventures in Scotland, confirmed it made several trips to Scotland last year (a fact acknowledged by all the major players) but was waiting for Scottish Enterprise to indicate Government support of both the political and financial kind to will the plan into being; which, apparently, did not come. Pinewood was not only looking at sites in Glasgow and was also interested in a site south of Edinburgh. But, the source says: "There was no welcome in Scotland for Pinewood. They were treated, in my opinion, with suspicion. The opposite was true in Wales, as we can now see ... why should a company like Pinewood base themselves in such an unwelcome place?"
Interestingly, after our report into the affair, the Scottish Government told The Herald Pinewood had identified a site in Glasgow, but there were "technical issues" with it. This week Glasgow City Council, which appeared highly miffed by this comment, broke its silence and said that, as far as it was concerned, any technical issues, within its own remit of roads or planning, could have been tackled sympathetically. The council backs the idea of a studio. Will it happen?
We shall see: next week the report on a new film studio will be published by Scottish Enterprise. I am told it has been delayed already, and may be delayed again. I understand it will be positive about a site in Glasgow, near Pacific Quay. It may even outline why the Pinewood option, worth so much to the Scottish film industry and economy, was ruled out.
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