A HUGE industrial building in Leith is to be the new major film studio for Scotland.

Screen Scotland, the national film body, has confirmed that it now putting out to tender a proposal to run the former Pelamis Building, a 160,000 square feet facility which was used to shoot Marvel's Avengers: Infinity War, as a "commercially viable studio facilities."

Isabel Davis, the new executive director of Screen Scotland, said she expects several companies to be interested in running the capacious building, which has room for five sound stages, as a studio.

Although she would not be drawn on how much funding her body, part of Creative Scotland, will invest in the project, she said any investment would not breach European State Aid rules, which deter governments from influencing some competitive markets with public funds.

Screen Scotland, she said, would not be involved in the running of the studio, which could be in operation next year.

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The large building is on 31 Bath Road in Leith's docks, and Ms Davis said that she believed it is in a "very special" location, close to the capital's city centre, near to Edinburgh International Airport and other transport links, and noted that "the access available by water is not irrelevant."

Developers have had an eye on the building, constructed in 2000, for some time: previously the VA Tech factory owned by Siemens, it was considered for a time by the National Galleries of Scotland as a potential new gallery.


Companies in Glasgow have long called for a filming facility in the west of the country: the Pelamis Building is around an hour, traffic permitting, on the M8 from Glasgow.

The location of the studio will also bring, it is believed, a sizeable economic boost to Leith.

The studio plan, as revealed in the Herald on Sunday in October, have already been approved by Fiona Hyslop, the culture secretary, and could see - if tender activity is high and a deal can be struck with a company next summer - the studio becoming operational by late 2019.

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The successful tender operator - and several companies are already interested in running the studio - would lease the building, which is owned by Forth Ports, on a long term basis.

Scotland's film industry has long lamented the lack of studio facilities in Scotland, to compete with studios in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and to provide valuable interior space to complement the country's urban and rural locations, which are in demand.


Spending on film and TV in Scotland in 2017 reached £95m and a £26m increase on the previous year: over the past decade, spend has increased more than 300%.

The building is situated on a private gated 8.6acre site within the port estate and is owned by Forth Ports Limited, and its sound stages, once built, could be 50ft and 100ft in height.

There is also 27,000 sq ft of "flexible workshop, production and high-end office space; ample backlot provision allowing for significant production set-builds, and is well serviced by vehicle access doors and tech and unit based parking."

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Screen Scotland want companies to lease the premises, refurbish the building, and operate it as a commercial studio.

Ms Davis added: "I absolutely do think this will be a good thing for Scottish film makers too, we see it as part of a jigsaw, not the whole picture.

"Having a studio will attract films and keep productions in Scotland for longer, which helps sustain the sector. It should be a virtuous circle."


Ms Davis said it would work as a complement to the Wardpark Studios in Cumbernauld, where Outlander is filmed.

Screening services with a demand for new material such as Netflix and Amazon, combined with more drama being made outside London by the BBC and Channel 4 present business opportunities for the studio, she said.

She added: “The enormous potential of 31 Bath Road was demonstrated when it hosted Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War last year.

"Its scale, accessibility, proximity to crew and central Edinburgh and its ability to be rapidly adapted make it a highly attractive proposition and one that could swiftly provide a home in Scotland for large scale productions.

"The site presents a fantastic opportunity to increase Scotland’s screen infrastructure, and capitalise on the unprecedented production boom, which will have a hugely positive impact on our screen sector and the wider economy."

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Stuart Wallace, chief operating officer of Forth Ports said: "Our support for Scottish industry does not stop at the quayside and we are thrilled that Screen Scotland has chosen the Port of Leith as the location to expand Scotland’s studio provision.

"This building has been popular with the creative industry recently with Avengers: Infinity War using 31 Bath Road as a studio space.

"As Scotland’s capital port and a major economic driver for Edinburgh with the capability to handle in excess of 1 million tonnes of cargo over the quayside annually, we are no strangers to hosting big and ambitious projects.”

Fiona Hyslop, culture secretary, said: "We welcome the launch of this tender process, which aims to enhance Scotland’s screen infrastructure and give private sector operators an opportunity to invest in Scotland’s growing screen sector."

The deadline for submissions is 1 February 2019.

A studio facility would normally include sound stages, workshop space, flexible space to use for wardrobe, make-up, editing, catering etc, office space and an external backlot area.

A preferred company will be named in April next year.