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City site for Pinewood Studios did not meet technical needs

A SCOTTISH film studio could have been set up in Glasgow by Pinewood Studios, but its favoured site did not satisfy "technical needs," it has emerged.

STUDIOS BLOW: How we reported news of Pinewood's  decision.
STUDIOS BLOW: How we reported news of Pinewood's decision.

The Scottish Government's admission came as filmmakers condemned the country's loss of a major new movie and television studio to Wales as "devastating" and "embarrassing".

Leading industry figures reacted with anger and dismay yesterday to the announcement that the world-famous Pinewood Studios had chosen Wales, rather than Scotland, for its facility. Its new 180,000sq ft complex is to be sited near Cardiff Bay and will be worth £90 million to the local economy.

The news came despite early talks involving the national arts funding body, Creative Scotland, and Scottish Enterprise over the possibility of bringing the studio north of the border.

Pinewood was looking for new facilities to accommodate film and "high end TV", which received a new tax relief last April, and Pinewood almost immediately showed interest in investing in facilities in Scotland.

It emerged last night that Scottish Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop was briefed on the opportun­ity and expressed interest, and some figures close to the process believed the deal could be struck within a year.

However, momentum stalled, even though ministers were warned the studio behind the James Bond series would look at other sites outwith Scotland.

Leading producer Gillian Berrie said: "Scotland has been too slow, too timid and too hamstrung to seize this moment. In a word: devastating."

Iain Smith, the Hollywood producer and chairman of the British Film Commission, said it was "absolutely a potential win for Scotland that has been lost through inaction".

John Archer, chairman of Independent Producers Scotland, said: "It is very sad and annoying.

"But I do not think it undermines the case for a Scottish studio. My take on it is that if Wales can do it, then we can do it.

"It is clear Scotland needs a studio, it should be part of the infrastructure."

A spokesman for the IPS group of leading producers said: "Whilst our colleagues in other parts of the UK and Ireland continue to flourish with tax incentives, purpose-built studios and strategic funding, Scotland lags embarrassingly far behind, characterised by one inaction over another and countless missed opportunities".

Belle Doyle, a film locations expert, and part of the Assoc-iation Of Film And Television Practitioners Scotland, said: "We feel the industry in Scot- land has been dealt yet another blow.

"We know Scottish Enterprise personnel have been meeting Pinewood executives for the last year to discuss possible business opportunities in Scotland, but obviously no-one could make a decision."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "Pinewood looked at a specific site in Glasgow at the end of May with support from Scottish Enterprise, but for technical reasons the site was not suitable for its needs.

"Scottish Enterprise met Pinewood officials to explore possibilities, as they and other agencies did with those involved in the 140,000 square foot studio secured in Cumbernauld for Outlander."

Pinewood has signed up for at least five years with the Welsh Government for the Pinewood Studio Wales, as well as an advisory role over a new £30m film and TV production fund.

A Creative Scotland spokeswoman said: "We are working to identify what levels of public investment will be required to encourage indigenous production and inward investment to sustain a studio."

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Arts and Entertainment

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