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Film industry rival launches £42m fund

SCOTLAND'S troubled film industry is being put under more economic pressure by the announcement of a major new movie fund by one of its keenest rivals.

Northern Ireland, which has studios in Belfast, has unveiled a £42 million, four-year plan to tempt more movies and high-end TV shows there, and to make Belfast the biggest screen capital outside London within 10 years.

Scotland, which lost out to Wales when Pinewood studios decided to invest in a new facility in Cardiff, is only beginning to formulate plans for a film studio. Game of Thrones wanted to shoot in Scotland but no major studio facility was available.

Outlander, a major US TV series, is now using a re-fitted warehouse studio near Cumbernauld and is currently shooting in locations across Scotland, but there has long been a call for more film funding and a permanent film and TV studio north of the border.

Richard Williams, CEO of Northern Ireland Screen, said of the new Opening Doors fund, which will run until 2018: "Opening Doors is about maximising the opportunities in the screen industries here... we are confident that the film, television drama, factual television, animation and gaming sectors will all grow significantly in the next few years."

Mr Williams said that the previous scheme - Driving Global Growth - has provided a £121m return on investment and it hopes the new plan will bring in £250m.

Gillian Berrie, the leading Scottish film producer, said: "I was astonished when Wales came up with £30m for their industry, but given NI Screen's track record, we shouldn't be surprised that they are seizing the opportunity to participate in such a good investment and compete with other regions.

"The spotlight's on Scotland to step up now."

Iain Smith, a Hollywood film producer from Glasgow and chairman of the British Film Commission (BFC), said: "Northern Ireland and Wales seem convinced of the opportunity. Scotland does not."

Belle Doyle, of the Association Of Film And Television Practitioners Scotland, said: "This is just another hurdle the Scottish industry has to contend with."

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Arts and Entertainment

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