Scotland’s film and TV industry is booming. Late last month new independent analysis showed it turned over more than £560m in business in the last year before the pandemic, 2019.

Industry leaders believe they can push that number to a billion a year. But to do so they need more studio space.

For years there has been talk of building purpose-build mini Hollywoods from scratch around the country. Or at least that is how the issue was presented. Not any more.

Industry leaders are now looking for help from local authorities, especially around Glasgow, to find buildings they can convert in to stages. The city’s iconic Kelvin Hall, for example, is being transformed in to a 10,500ft2 studio.

Stephen Bristow, of London-based consultants Saffery Champness, co-authored the latest report on the state of the industry, for government-funded Screen Scotland. He reckons the country needs to roughly double its overall studio space to tap new opportunities.

That sounds daunting. And it would be if this was about new-build, or state funding. But private companies are looking for existing structures, including former industrial sites, with good transport links.

Bristow said: “Meeting the target of the Scottish screen sector generating £1bn by 2030 depends on several elements, including the continued support of the BBC and Channel 4. In 2019 the BBC and C4 were the core source of demand, finance and commissioning for Scotland-based producers.

‘But as the post Covid increase in global production for the new platforms – Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Warner Bros./HBO Max, Paramount - has come into play the availability of a skilled workforce, and providing the facilities for film and high-end drama television production have become much more significant.”

The big streamers have commissioned productions made in Scotland, such as second season Amazon Prime’s Good Omens. Foreign firms are investing in studio space. Last year a US consortium, for example, bought the former warehouse complex in Cumbernauld, WardPark Studios, where international time-travel series Outlander is made.

‘What our report, with Nordicity, highlights is the scale and breadth of the opportunity Scotland has now in the film and television sectors,” Bristow continued.

“It is an opportunity the Scottish Government is alive to, and local government across the main production centres in Scotland now needs to take it on as an opportunity for growth in their area, for high-value careers in their area. It is achievable.

‘Scotland has all the attributes large budget film and television producers are looking for: world class creative talent, great crew and landscape but to reach £1bn you have to increase the production base of Scotland. Total spend on film and television production in Scotland will need to increase, crew will need to be expanded, and Scotland will likely need over 500,000 sq ft of stage space to accommodate the growth in production spending.

‘In 2019, our report highlights approximately 230,000 ft of film and HETV stage space. To put that into some context that is approximately 50% of the size of Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden alone. Scotland has a number of live studio development opportunities already in progress – the Pyramids facility in Bathgate is looking to expand, Kelvin Hall is about to come into operation, and there are plans to expand and further improve facilities at Ward Park and in Glasgow, where facilities such as the Pioneer studio could be significant.

“Screen Scotland has been very active in helping these new facilities, they now need local government support to see the sector grow even more.”

Bristow’s report last month suggested 10,000 jobs now depended on the screen industry. Industry insiders do not want to dwell too much on big sheds. They also need to make sure they sustain skills and talent, especially in the cluster of TV and film production companies growing around Glasgow. And that, right now, sources stress, also means fighting to keep the bread-and-butter British work for commissioners at privatisation-threatened Channel 4.