A NEW film studio for Scotland is to be backed by the national arts funding body.

The deputy chief executive of Creative Scotland said it is "very close" to putting a business case to the Scottish Government on the new scheme.

Iain Munro revealed the plan as he was quizzed by MSPs at Holyrood's Culture Committee, a session which was also marked by a dispute between the committee and the culture secretary, Fiona Hyslop, over film policy in Scotland.

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Ms Hyslop expressed displeasure with the committee publishing a critical report, which calls for a new and separate film funding body, at a "disruptive" time.

Mr Munro said the new film studio complex would be separate from Wardpark Studio in Cumbernauld, where the popular TV series Outlander is filmed, and the proposed privately-backed Pentland Studios in Straiton near Edinburgh, which was granted planning permission last year.

He said: "I can't say any more about it because clearly there are business sensitivities and commercial considerations there, but we are very close to making that case to get agreement to move forward."

It is unclear at this stage whether the business case involves the use of any private money, or where it would be based.

The Scottish Government has been reluctant to fully fund a new studio for fear of falling foul of European state aid regulations, which forbid the use of public money on any organisation with could potentially distort competition or trade.

However Mr Munro said Creative Scotland had taken legal advice from the Government's State Aid unit, as well as from experts in EU law in Brussels, for the new plan.

He said the studio would not be in direct competition with Pentland but will be "a different offer and would offer coverage across the market".

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The film industry in Scotland has long called for a film studio to be built to capitalise on Hollywood interest in Scottish locations, as well as to aid talent in the country.

Mr Munro said that studies had shown that Scotland could support several studios, not just one large one such as Pentland Studios.

A spokesman for Creative Scotland added: "Scotland has the capacity and the ambition to host a range of studio facilities in addition to those already on offer.

"We are working very hard on a business case for additional studio infrastructure and we are at an advanced stage with this work.

"Subject to state aid regulations, we hope to be able to submit a proposal to Ministers very soon.

"We also continue to explore further studio opportunities, as we have been doing on an ongoing basis."

In the same session, Ms Hyslop clashed with the committee over its interim report into film, published in May.

It urged that separate new agency be set up to boost film and TV production work in Scotland, saying this could help the country benefit from the billions of pounds being spent by companies such as Amazon and Netflix.

This is at odds with the current plan, which is to establish a Film Unit within Creative Scotland.

Ms Hyslop told the MSPs that had been made public "right in the middle" of the recruitment process for the screen unit.

She said: "I don't think it was the intention of the committee, but my genuine concern is that there shouldn't be any disruption or delay or derailing.

"Because your report appeared right in the middle of our recruitment process, I think that is of some concern."

She stressed it was "really important everybody gets behind the screen unit and its activity".

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Mr Munro told the committee Creative Scotland was committed to putting the new unit in place.

He said: "It is a five-year plan, we want to see that step change too, and we're putting in place the mechanism to ensure we're able to deliver on that. That's what people can judge us on.

"We're two months into that five-year plan. I appreciate people are impatient but we're very committed to making sure this happens to the best effect."

The committee's convener, Joan McAlpine, said: "We don't have three to five years to wait and see what happens.

"Our interim report, based on the evidence we received, is Scotland has an incredible opportunity at this point in time to benefit from the amount of content that is being commissioned across the world and if we don't get it right now we will miss the boat."