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Scotland 'misses opportunities' to cash in on making movies

An award-winning Scottish film and television producer says there are missed opportunities in the industry in Scotland and Holyrood should do more to encourage investment.

CUE HOLYROOD: Former head of BBC drama, producer Andrea Calderwood, says the Scottish Government could do much more to invest in film and facilities, creating financial incentives.   Picture: Getty
CUE HOLYROOD: Former head of BBC drama, producer Andrea Calderwood, says the Scottish Government could do much more to invest in film and facilities, creating financial incentives. Picture: Getty

Andrea Calderwood, the producer of The Last King Of Scotland and the recently-released Half Of A Yellow Sun, believes lessons can be learned from the success of productions made in Northern Ireland, including the acclaimed Game Of Thrones which has just returned to television screens.

"I think there are some missed opportunities in Scotland, the Scottish Government could do an awful lot more to invest in film, possibly in facilities, but I think the biggest thing they could be doing is creating financial incentives in the way people have done in Northern Ireland," said the former head of drama at BBC Scotland.

"There's a great cross-fertilisation if there's production money to invest in a film, but also if there's investment in attracting outside films to come."

She cites as an example the investment from Nigeria for Half Of A Yellow Sun, directed by Biyi Bandele and starring Thandie Newton and Chiwetel Ejiofor, star of Oscar-winning 12 Years A Slave. Set during the Nigerian-Biafran war in the late 1960s, it is based on the best-selling novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

"We felt, if we can show this film can be successful then other films can follow and they can be invested in from Nigeria," she said. "That was part of the philosophy of making the film: that you're not always having to apply in the UK for finance to make an African film.

"It's the same in Scotland, I think the Scottish Government could learn from the authorities in Northern Ireland. Scottish crews have a great reputation all over the world, so people would choose to come here. Film production follows the money, so if the right financial conditions are created, you could have consistently the range of films that has been come out of Scotland in the last couple of years."

One of The Herald's 50 most influential women in Scotland, Calderwood said she believed there should be financial incentives to encourage television production. "There was always a bit of a wariness of being seen as subsidising the broadcasters. When I produced The Field Of Blood it made all the difference to have some backing from Creative Scotland. That's what they've done in Northern Ireland, they have attracted Game Of Thrones."

She said films such as Under The Skin, starring Scarlett Johansson showed the range of film that can be made in Scotland, following the release of Filth and Sunshine On Leith last year.

"One of the problems with Scotland is that you can't make a critical mass of films; you always get judged by one film, but the goal is to make a range of films and tell the story you want to tell, whatever the classic Scottish film is."

The Scottish Government has said it is committed to developing the screen industry and is due to publish a report on the issue in the near future .

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