Saturday, June 25, 2022

Plenty of evidence to justify the £1billion target for the Scottish screen sector

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Leith Docks was bathed in glorious sunshine for a media appeal that had all the makings of a new dawn for Scotland’s film and television industry.

Conditions were favorable for the start of long-awaited new research that promised to paint a first “clear picture” of the scope, value and impact of the display industry and its various by-products.

There was certainly a lot to note in the report, not least the fact that film and television was estimated at £567m for the Scottish economy and believed to support more than 10,000 full-time jobs.

Given that the industry was last valued at around £95m when Scottish government body Screen Scotland was formed four years ago, the industry appears to have undergone a remarkable transformation.

Screen Scotland made it clear that it would stretch the network much further than in the past to include cinema admissions, cinema tourism, film festivals and the contribution of broadcasters.

Whilst this would explain the huge increase in the overall economic impact, film and TV productions alone are said to be worth around £315m – three times what they were in 2017.

The research, significantly delayed by the pandemic, actually dates back to 2019, a year in which the Netflix Eurovision film, the Fast and Furious franchise and the HBO drama Succession were all filmed in Scotland.

It is perhaps understandable for some people to question the value of evidence that is now three years out of date and overtaken by the impact of Covid.

Still, the sector has undoubtedly seen a notable boom since the pandemic.

The FirstStage Studios complex at Leith Docks has since hosted two Amazon series, The Rig and Anansi Boys, while a third, Good Omens, was filmed at the Pyramids in Bathgate, facilities which today, along with the recently refurbished Kelvin Hall, are cornerstones of the branch are based in Glasgow.

Elsewhere, there is ample evidence of a significant increase in filming compared to the pre-Covid years, including filming of new Netflix series One Day and feature film thriller Kill, which is getting underway.

All of this would suggest that there are plenty of reasons to justify an optimistic target of taking the industry’s value above the £1billion mark.

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