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Move to cut Edinburgh Film Focus staff does not serve our industry

WE are writing to protest in the strongest terms against the plans to reduce Edinburgh's Film Focus office to a single film officer ("Producers claim cuts will damage city film-making", The Herald, March 7).

We are leading members of the film and television community and Film Focus is vital to the work we do. The office has been in operation since 1990, and the two current officers have detailed and specialist knowledge of what producers need when choosing to work in and around Edinburgh.

We have read the statements from Marketing Edinburgh that its organisation is fully equipped to take over Film Focus's responsibilities. In the first instance, no production wants to work with a team called "Marketing". Marketing the city is a by-product of what we do. Any film team needs privacy and specialist help in co-ordinating the many and varied requirements that filming demands.

Marketing Edinburgh as a tourism, conference and event destination is vastly different to promoting it as a film and television location. The two existing staff members, with their in-depth industry knowledge, are able to respond quickly to location briefs, logistical briefs and the crazy left-field inquiries that can come from a film or television production. They have personal industry relationships that they have built up over years and cutting the film office budget will send a signal to the industry in the UK and worldwide that Edinburgh is no longer committed to having a film and television industry. Film and television projects come here because there's a good film office. Edinburgh attracts international productions that use the city's spectacular locations. But producers want a film office that will protect and support their work, not a marketing team.

As Scottish-based producers, we have relied on Film Focus to facilitate our production needs. We strongly object to key decisions about our industry being made without the industry's participation. We need Film Focus and are well served by it.

This decision is short-sighted, and does not serve our industry. We would welcome the opportunity to meet those responsible for this decision, as a matter of urgency.

Mark Cousins, Filmmaker; Andrea Gibb, Screenwriter; Murray Grigor, Grigor Films; Andrea Calderwood, Slate Films, 9 Greek Street, London, and 64 other leading film-makers and producers.

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