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Lights, camera, action: plans for 'Scottish Hollywood' unveiled

Backroom discussions are taking place in the hope of building a "Scottish Hollywood", according the Culture Secretary.

Last week, Fiona Hyslop said her department stands ready to help any firm that comes forward with a business plan for a film studio to rival Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire or the California movie hub.

Today, she revealed that active but confidential discussions are already under way with a range of organisations to attempt to make that ambition a reality.

Speaking at Holyrood today, Ms Hyslop said: "In recent weeks, to support the film and television content development, Creative Scotland's film and television funding programme for 2013/14 has opened for applications.

"In terms of infrastructure, I followed up meetings I had in February with the chief executive of Scottish Enterprise and board of Creative Scotland with a meeting with Iain Smith, the chair of the British Film Commission, and further meeting with Creative Scotland and Scottish Enterprise.

"A delivery group has been established between the Scottish Government, these agencies and SDI to take forward work on live opportunities for film and television production from the private sector which I cannot share in detail with the parliament at this stage.

"At a European level, I attended the European culture and audio visual council in Brussels on Friday May 17 where there are a number of discussions relevant to film and television, including the implications of the proposed transatlantic trade and investment partnership between the US and EU for this sector."

Scottish locations have been the backdrop for dozens of blockbusters in recent years, such as the Harry Potter, James Bond and Batman franchises, and hosted stars and directors like Brad Pitt, Scarlett Johannson, Tom Hanks and Ridley Scott.

Scotland is touted as a possible location for the latest instalment of the Star Wars franchise following news that Chancellor George Osborne attracted Lucasfilm to Britain with tax incentives.

Labour culture spokeswoman Patricia Ferguson said: "Scottish producers may not be able to capitalise on the high-end tax credit which has now come into place as of April 1.

"Given that many regions in England, Northern Ireland and now Wales now have a studio complex that allows producers to capitalise on that tax credit, can she tell me when Scotland will be able to take advantage of this provision and when we can expect to see a film complex studio, and if it's likely to be in Glasgow?"

Ms Hyslop said: "We need a film a studio, particularly with an effective sound studio as part of that complex.

"I cannot, for confidentiality reasons in terms of commercial discussions, comment on progress but I can reassure that, with the delivery group, we are in active discussions with a range of organisations which I hope will give an opportunity for positive news in this area at some point in the future."

Caroline Parkinson, director of creative development at Creative Scotland, said: "We are delighted with the Cabinet Secretary's support in establishing the film studio delivery group.

"Scotland already attracts some fantastic film production and we could be even more competitive, on a national and international scale, with a fully-equipped studio.

"Creative Scotland have invested £75,000 capital funding to further develop the feasibility, technical specification and future business model for an expansion of current screen industry facilities in Glasgow.

"We have also ring-fenced £1 million towards the cost of a studio and look forward to getting involved in helping this to happen."

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said there have already been successes in attracting television production to Scotland.

Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Development International worked with Shed Productions to relocate the BBC drama Waterloo Road to Scotland.

This venture is expected to generate almost £25 million in direct investment and 230 job opportunities across all levels of production, the spokeswoman said.

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