Hail the Epic Fail

avengers3How many feature films are there in production led by a Scots producer? Not a single one. May Miles Thomas argues that if that was true in theatre, art, literature or any other art form it would be a national scandal. So why does the arts media keep celebrating a Scottish film industry that doesn’t exist?

In Men in Black there’s a scene where Tommy Lee Jones springs a locker door open to reveal a crowd of tiny aliens who hail him as ‘The Lifegiver’ before bursting into The Star Spangled Banner. There are few better analogies when pondering the basket case that is Scottish Film.

MiB though is more entertaining than the 60-page document published in March 2015 by the Scottish Government’s Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee: The Economic Impact of the Film, TV and Video Games Industry. Anyone looking for a feelgood ending will be disappointed to learn that, two years on, none of the key recommendations for film has been met.

A story is a lie that everyone likes – until the painful truth comes out. Watching the EET Committee YouTube videos, the same words and phrases crop up again and again: crisis, unfit for purpose, systemic failure, no political will and lack of leadership, words spoken by the great and good of Scottish film. The current and former chiefs and CEOs, the producers and erstwhile arbiters of publicly-funded film agencies who for over 20 years have led us to this point now raise their hands in a plea for ‘leadership’ – and more cash to disburse among themselves. These are the people who in their snobbery believe screening out of competition at Cannes is more valuable than a million hits on YouTube. The sad truth of this tale is even our putative leaders no longer know they’re lying.

At the top of the EET Committee wish list is the cargo cult of a Scottish Film Studio. Boasting more sequels than Star Wars – but with a higher body count – common to most of these plans is ‘mixed-use development’: hotels, retail complexes and housing, raising rightful concerns of a land grab. Among these doomed projects are Sean Connery’s 2001 bid to build near Hermiston, Dave Stewart and James Cosmo’s 2002 scheme at Milton on Leys and Film City Glasgow’s 2012 plan for Pinewood on the Clyde. The latest proposal, made in 2014 by Pentland Studio Ltd., is to construct a six sound stage facility at Damhead, Midlothian. Rejected by the local council in 2015, the final decision on an amended plan (by yet another new proposer, PSL Land Ltd.) will shortly be made by the Scottish Government.

As a filmmaker and company owner I’ve no objection to a studio that’s sited logically and is sustainable without draining the public purse. What I object to is the cupidity of arm’s-length bodies and lobbyists claiming a studio will improve prospects for me and my peers when the explicit Government tactic – as opposed to strategy – is to sell Scotland as a go-to location in order to attract incoming productions at the expense of indigenous talent.

Moreover the ‘build it and they will come’ policy only reinforces the myth of The Lifegiver; that behind the locker door is a bounteous saviour ready to free us from insignificance and penury. In truth our messiah will never arrive because the model is broken: film distribution is dying and the world is awash with vacant studio space. Competing tax incentives (over which Scotland has no power) are climbing towards 100%, our skills, support services & infrastructure are rudimentary and our weather is terrible. I could go on.

Like chasing squirrels, this is a zero sum game. Every time the Government, the agencies, the producers, the crews and the media bow down to the great totem of a Scottish Studio, all else is forgotten. Along the way Scottish Film has withered and died. We’ve cut down all the trees to build the giant statues. Our indigenous talent – writers, producers and directors – those who create employment for Scottish cast and crews face a choice: quit or leave.

If all we want is a culture dependent on the largesse and whim of foreign powers raiding our reserves, let’s have a studio. But if what matters is finding a voice for who we are, using what resources we do have to best effect then we need to kill the lie and re-think our film strategy in the belief that there are thousands out there, unknown, unseen but with the wit, verve and confidence to do it for themselves.

If anyone thinks I’m exaggerating, consider this – at present there are no feature films in production led by a Scots producer. Not one. Think about it. If Scottish theatre, dance, literature, visual art and music ground to a halt it would be declared a national scandal. The absence of film as a cultural force is Scotland’s shame because if we can’t tell our stories to ourselves and the world then who are we as a nation?

It’s time to tell the truth and break down the locker door. The current mechanisms of Scottish film subsidy exist only to sustain a parasitic cohort of enablers and administrators. The sole output of hundreds of courses and academics, institutions, bodies, agencies is a few shorts and documentaries. It’s a middle-class job creation scheme of talkers, not doers, so mired in complacency and indolence the world has entirely passed them by.

A film studio is a 20th Century solution to a 21st Century problem. It’s like the Springfield Monorail (Google it). A true film strategy, like every other facet of the economy, will be disruptive, dispersed and democratic. It will grasp the best of new technology and markets, and enable outliers to exploit them. On the model of the Grameen Bank it will fracture the funding model, providing support to thousands not the chosen few. It will make small things in large quantities, a handful of which will succeed beyond measure.

It’s not a studio we need. It’s not more money. What we need is belief in ourselves.

Comments (47)

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  1. Andimac says:

    May,
    Good to read your piece here. As you’ll know from my comments on “Voyageuse”, I couldn’t agree more with your analysis and conclusions. I suspect that the inertia from the “movers and shakers” is because they’re reluctant to invest in anything other than a sure thing, which I guess from their viewpoint would perhaps be “Brigadoon – The Sequel”. Keep on keeping on and keep on fighting!

  2. Ann Marie Coulter says:

    As a “parasite enabler”who has devoted the last 30 years of my life working in theatre and film. I will leave it for 24 hours before I respond to your article as anything thing said at the minute would be in anger.

    1. Marcia Blaine says:

      Have you got over your ‘anger’ yet?

      1. Sadler Brent says:

        Just a set decorator throwing a cream puff

        1. That’s a prety stupid and derogatory thing to say.

  3. c rober says:

    Well there isnt many affluent Jewish people in the industry in Scotland … there someone had to open the box on that one. And theres me starting to sound like the braveheart actor on his night aff efter a few chardonays.

    If we must compare UK , specifically Scotland as in the article , with production then I think I have hit the nail on the head – PRODUCTION MONEY , and not a subsidy other than taxation reduction.

    We have though a missing opportunity for a iScotland , a proper studio setup , however those in the decision making closed rooms seem to be gearing , yet again , with Edinburgh as the location or damn near it… Its inmates running the financial asylum.

    However I still push for either Cumbernauld with its central location and convenience to travel via road , near TWO airports in Glasgow Edinburgh within 30 mins , and a small one on its VERY OWN doorstep , or perhaps a completely new one custom built in Perthshire to capitalise on the scenery. However in these days of digital and blue screen then the scenery is lesserly important today , mores the pity.

    But that doesnt bring in the films , what does is FINANCIAL competitiveness , as proven by many films that chose Ireland to portray Scotland , and even Hawaii , or NZ.

    Without that pricing being beneficial , prevented in Scotland by taxation still reserved in such industry , then there is little scope to actually build an world leading studios for them to be empty.

    In fact there is plenty of empty Factories and warehouses available in North Ayrshire with the multi decade failure that is the IRVINE Regen money hole , which again is near two airports , but lacks good train and road compared to Cumbernauld , but has also some stunning Scenery and Clyde access.

    So its not just a matter of building a studio , its about sustaining it afterwards , and that can be done far more effectively using Cumbernauld over Edinburgh. Just as a Jewish film producer to run the numbers.

      1. c rober says:

        How many films from the USA are Jewish money backed? Actors , Directors , Writers , producers?

        I would wager quite a high percentage , more so if the star is also Jewish , whom more and more is also the writer and even producer and scorer , ADAM SANDLER anyone. This is in no way a slur , in fact it proves that money people are clever , and SO us looking at Hollywood , more than Holyrood , is a far better vision.

        Simply being awarded a trophy for participation isnt enough , its cut throat this production thing , profits drive it and thus repeat business returns because of it. Siting in an area cheaper for hotels , workers and their commutes , is as I mentioned far better with siting in Cumbernauld which was also a front runner for a national studio.

        Banging the drum about Scots producers is frankly a non starter , money is the producer – and it has no nation.

        What Scotland therefore needs is a STUDIO , first , then professionals to do the sales work finding the Worldwide producers to choose it , regardless of where they are from. Leaving it to luvvies and public subsidy wont wash , its needs to be a busniness and ran like one , or its just more middle class waged paid version of the benefits system so widespread in Scots arts today.

        So if the contributor is asking why there is no Scots Film Industry Studios , with Scots producers , then frankly its just laughable barking at the moon. Just like those that seem to think the fiscal operations of using Edinburgh is a good idea , when pound for pound it would be better in a lower cost area to increase the producers profit margins …. which is something that means competitiveness on the world market , and a desire to use the studios from the offset.

        1. This is just anti-semitism, there is no place on Bella for such remarks.

  4. Doghouse Reilly says:

    Seems par for the course. After all much of our industry, infrastructure, rail, water, power grid and even football teams are controlled by overseas companies, some of them state owned in their home county.

    And what we have that passes for an economic strategy is just as devoid of a focus on indigenous growth.

    You can hardly expect the film industry to be treated as a special case.

    Good to know it’s a front that is being contested with something that looks like a real alternative mind you.

    1. Graeme Purves says:

      No, the failure to produce quality Scottish films is a specific, indigenous failure for which specific individuals are responsible. There is no lack of creative talent in Scotland, but a coterie of self-serving, talentless talkers is stifling it. Radical action is required.

  5. Marcia Blaine says:

    I’d like to hear Ms Coulter’s defence, parasite enabler or no. What’s holding back the film industry is a lack of competence, foresight and insider knowledge. The furred arteries of the bureaucracy that has overtaken the delivery (eh?) of this project must shoulder the blame. Thanks May for doing a great emperor’s new clothes job on the subject. But the apparatchiks have dug their own grave on this one. Admitting defeat on the studio will be a PR disaster so best to plough on with strategy documents until hell freezes over.

  6. Andimac says:

    Well, whaddya know? BBC Scotland reports, “Green light for film studio near Straiton”. Apparently, planning permission in principle has been granted and it’s expected the studios will operational by late 2018. Good for the developers, good for the builders and, of course, it’s near Edinburgh – let’s see if it’s good for Scottish film-making. Ah hae ma doots!

    1. Marcia Blaine says:

      Is this the power of the press? Certainly it’s a nicely timed PR announcement.

    2. c rober says:

      course it will fail , more so if its on the public purse.

      Not one accountant could justify Straiton over Cumbernauld , and when it comes to making films its all about the accountants.

  7. George Gunn says:

    The only word missing from May’s piece was “education”. The Feis movement in Scotland has produced a new generation of world class musicians, singers and songwriters. If we keep looking to the USA for our metaphors, models and our guides then we are just colonials looking for a deal. On the other hand the Scottish Government and their paymasters in London treat the arts (the film and TV industries most especially) as arms of tourism. We are just a location, we are not (somehow alone in all the world) capable of producing. For government it is not what we can do for the arts, it is what can the arts do for us. We have to build a film culture from the ground up, invest in skills and training in young people and fill their heads and hearts with cultural confidence in the possibility of a new Scottish film industry. I would not say that theatre and literature are much different in Scotland in as much as they are controlled by individuals who, and an ethos that, seems intent on containment rather than revolution. If folk music can find the confidence and wherewithal through education to have a world voice, why not film and the rest of the arts in Scotland? More power to your elbow, May Miles Thomas. We need your voice saying what you think, in order to encourage others to do so. It’s what Bella is for.

    1. Redgauntlet says:

      “Everything about making a film, can be learned in one day…”
      (Orson Welles)

    2. Graeme Purves says:

      There is more to it than that, George. Film education and training has been hijacked by a bunch of talentless time-servers who haven’t an ounce of originality or initiative and have no idea how to nurture creative talent. The record of film education at Scotland’s universities over the last 20 years is abysmal.

  8. Paul Welsh says:

    Hi May, in answer to your question, as of April 3rd 2017, there are two features in production in Scotland with Scottish producers in lead positions – Anna and The Apocalypse with Naysun Alae-Carew (Blazing Griffin) and Hush with Brian Coffey (Sigma Films). There’s also Tupperware Party, Karen Gillan’s feature financed out the US, shot in Scotland in January, with Clare Mundell as Co-Producer I believe (Synchronicity). That film is posting in the US … And there’s plenty more in the pipeline judging by the slate’s of several companies I know, including larger productions and co-productions which would most likely benefit from the availability of additional studio space in Scotland. Hope that gives everyone a little more hope. Good luck with your own filmmaking. I hope you connect with the right producer whether they’re in Scotland or not.

    1. Sadler Brent says:

      Will Claire Mundell ever make something critically or commercially viable? She’s not had a hit since her days of the kids’ show Shoebox Zoo, despite chunks of public money squandered on her productions

  9. Calum MacRae says:

    I have always thought that the name:

    “Scottish bafta” should be replaced by SAFTA

    Same as:

    “bbc Scotland” should be replaced by SBC or equivalent.

    Why?

    It sets the tone, when presented with a Scottish bafta, first thing that springs to mind is it is not a proper bafta, second thing is the british are stamping their nationalism over that of Scotland. Both combine to provide impression that Scotland is subservient to britain in culture.

    Scotland will never reach artistic heights under the umbrella of britain, it will never be allowed to

    1. Sadler Brent says:

      Yeah, good luck with telling organisations which rely on Scotland for a very small proportion of their funding to change their name.
      And a Scottish Bafta isn’t a proper Bafta; look at the quality of the winners: Tommy’s Honour anyone’s idea of a best film? I don’t think so

  10. Redgauntlet says:

    I think May Miles Thomas overstates her case here.

    I can’t seriously see how any film-maker can argue that a studio facility in Scotland can be anything other than good news for the industry.

    I can’t see either how May can say we don’t need more money. She is the first film-maker I ever heard of to say such a thing. Most film-makers never have enough money to develop their projects.

    In a wider context, the whole of the European film industry benefits from some State subsidy, with more funding available in almost any other European country I can think of than is the case in Scotland today.

    In addition, we do not have a fully autonomous television station to pre-buy rights, which is the other essential leg of financing most European pictures. Nor can we offer a Scottish tax rebate.

    And we do not have a big Scottish distribution company either.

    May says that film distribution is dying. Well, I’d say the model is clearly changing. They said it was dying with the advent of TV, and they said the same when video came along. It never happened in the end.

    May is right, however, that a studio is not a panacea for a whole set of other problems, and that we need more diversity in Scottish film-making in general.

    Building a studio should not mean building your whole film industry strategy around it, which is presumably what May suspects will happen and probably will indeed happen…that is the English model.

    We need a European model for Scottish film, not the English model.

    May is also right that it is a mistake to evaluate every funding decision on whether a project is “commercial” and can be theatrically released, when “commercial” is a term which is a misnomer as often as not.

    We need a film financing model which is up to speed with the massive changes in technology which have taken place in film-making over the last ten years or so, and made a certain kind of film-making much cheaper. Films which don’t need a theatrical release – or at least not a big one – but can play well on on-line digital platforms.

    More diversity, fresh and new voices and a lot less bureaucracy are all highly desirable, as May Miles Thomas rightly says…. but surely a studio facility is too?

    1. I think that May is arguing that the studio obsession has clouded the way to a more diverse and strategic approach, and that while the new studio should be welcomed – it does not create a pathway for indigenous smaller-scale film-makers to advance.

      1. Redgauntlet says:

        I get the argument, Bella, I’ve heard it before, and there is some truth in it.

        On the other hand, I see no sign of a “diverse and strategic approach” coming out of Creative Scotland any time soon, whether a studio is built or not.

        It is clear that there are a number of big budget productions which Scotland lost out on because the facilities were not there. I think the case for a studio is overwhelming on those grounds alone.

        The Scottish film industry lacks almost all of the essential things which a fully-fledged European film industry has: one or more often two or three TV stations which pre-buy film rights – and under the (optional for EU member States) EU Film and TV directive are obliged to buy film rights….

        A couple of independent distribution companies, however small, preferably a stand alone film agency, and a pot of money big enough to generate most of the finance of an average budget picture out of Scotland together with said TV pre-sale.

        You could add a State credit agency to that list, and of course, full fiscal powers which would allow for a Scottish tax incentive. Not to mention a Scottish filmotech or national film institute dedicated to Scottish film preservation, exportation and the internationalisation of Scottish films.

        That’s what your typical European film industry looks like.

        There are things there which are very much linked to Scottish independence of course. Some of them can’t be done right now.

        In the absence of independence, I believe we do need a new strategy and approach tailored specifically to the limitations of what we can do in Scotland with the money we have. Smaller films, more widely spread, I agree with May on that.

        There are too many films backed by Creative Scotland or Scottish Screen before them because they are perceived to be “commercial”, and on those grounds alone. The emphasis should be more on discovering new talent, given the limitations….

        The 300,000 0r 400,000 or 500,000 grand Creative Scotland put into T2 – whatever the figure was – would be enough to fund a first feature film… and the picture is distributed worldwide by Sony Pictures….a US Studio.

        I mean, should the limited money we have for film in Scotland be going into what is a film which would have financed itself anyway?

  11. Redgauntlet says:

    Market share of Box Office for independent British films – that is to say, films made with no US backing – in 2016 was a woeful 7%….

    Market share of nationally produced films in most European territories probably averages around 25%, with France usually the highest at around 40% or upwards of that figure….

    The European model is what we should be aspiring to in Scotland.

    By the way, May Miles Thomas, there were over 168 millions tickets sold in UK cinemas in 2016. That’s a lot of business for a dying model.

    The problem is that most of these film are US Studio drivel, part of what Jonathan Rosenbaum calls the US industrial-media complex…

  12. David Graham Scott says:

    I agree with May but it matters not a jot if there are zero productions or 100. One hundred dull and cliche ridden Scottish films are better if they didn’t exist. A total embarrassment in fact.

    I remember going to a Scottish Screen event at STV way back in 2002. It was the same year that Irreversible came out…one of the most extraordinary films ever made. The girl presenting the event said that Scottish Screen were looking forward to the emergence of ‘our own Gaspar Noe’ (the director of Irreversible) in the near future. I distinctly remember saying to my friend beside me that it will never happen as Scottish Screen would be unlikely to finance such a radical vision. I was right and no such productions were ever financed by Scottish Screen.

    It always seems to me that the wrong type of people have their fingers on the purse strings. They’re not visionary artists but office managers that throw around a few of the latest buzz words and memes to make themselves look hip and clever.
    Just like the dinosaurs at BBC Scotland too. Time to roll out the guillotine and get some fresh blood on board.

    1. Redgauntlet says:

      I disagree David Graham Scott.

      What about our crew and our actors and our screenplay writers? They make a living on working on films, good, bad or indifferent. Is that of no significance? If you want a really well developed and experienced film crew talent base in Scotland, then a studio is a big advantage. Otherwise, they end up moving to London, where Pinewood is overbooked…

      As for making bad films, plenty of the great directors shot bad films. That isn’t the problem. The problem is not enough good films come out of Scotland, or to put it better, Scotland’s film making potential is nowhere near realized.

      As for CS, obviously I agree. To put some money in Trainspotting 2, and attend the cocktail at Cannes, well any fool can do that. An investment banker could do that.

      What is required is a stand alone agency with a small team of moderately paid people who are passionate about film and want go out there and work with new directors and unearth talent.

      I’ve said it before, if we can’t be an industry – and we can’t at the moment – then we should become a laboratory.

      1. Marcia Blaine says:

        Who recalls the Film Board of Canada? It was a marvel back in the day. Is this not a model to emulate? We need a robust screen industries agency that filmmakers in our native land can respect and speaks knowledgeably and openly about the industry’s issues/demands. Maybe this is a nettle the new creative industries advisory board can grasp. Someone needs to. The film studio agreement is only in principle, after all.

  13. Alf Baird says:

    Lets face it, in Scotland and across all sectors we juist dinnae hyst up oor ain fowk. Even with a so-called ‘nationalist’ government at Holyrood, all the top jobs in Scotland are always advertised in the London press, hence our big neighbour is where most of our institutional leaders (and their culture, strategies etc) inevitably comes from. There is a name for a country which imports the majority of its institutional leaders. Scotland itself should “be declared a national scandal” given the national pastime seems to be to haud doon oor ain fowk, an thair culture in aw its forms, sae wi aye feenish up sair aff an wanshapen, wi scant peuchle, an muckle (cultural) creenge.

    Indeed, this excessive over dependence on recruiting our institutional leaders from elsewhere, and the resultant lack of confidence in oor ain fowk and cringe, is probably a major influence as to why many Scots still vote Naw.

    1. Alf Baird says:

      ….and, as May says: “What we need is belief in ourselves.”

      Amen tae thon!

    2. Graeme Purves says:

      This has nothing to do with people being recruited from firth of Scotland, Alf. The talentless chancers responsible for the dire state of film education in Scotland are home-bred.

  14. Graeme Purves says:

    “The current mechanisms of Scottish film subsidy exist only to sustain a parasitic cohort of enablers and administrators. The sole output of hundreds of courses and academics, institutions, bodies, agencies is a few shorts and documentaries. It’s a middle-class job creation scheme of talkers, not doers, so mired in complacency and indolence the world has entirely passed them by.”

    May Miles Thomas hits the nail squarely on the head there! The dismal state of film courses in Scotland – which appear to be dedicated to crushing rather than nurturing creative talent – is a national disgrace and something of which our universities and colleges should be thoroughly ashamed.

  15. Brian Beadie says:

    Totally. The mediocrity and paucity of Scottish film is not due to the lack of a studio – it’s due to a lack of good producers, willing to take risks. As DGS rightly points out, a Gaspar Noe would have no chance of funding here – not unless he made a remake of Whisky Galore.

    1. Redgauntlet says:

      Why is it the fault of Scotland’s film producers? You people just talk out your arses…Scotland’s film producers are miracle workers…

      There is very little money in Scotland for film….it’s got nothing to do with education, or skills, or anything like that, it’s about MONEY…

      Invest MONEY in Scottish film – the Catalans had a state budget of 20 million euros a few years ago, we have a 5 million euros – and you will get more and better Scottish films…

      What is it you people don’t understand about that? It costs MONEY to make a film….end of…

      1. Brian Beadie says:

        Of course it costs money, and that’s one of the major problems. However, countries like Portugal, Greece and Romania – or to be truly, international, the Philippines- manage to produce consistently interesting films without spending megabucks on them.

        1. Redgauntlet says:

          Well, who are you thinking about in Portugal? Pedro Costa’s films are financed out of France, so is most of the money for Miguel Gomes’s films, from other European territories I mean.

          And ditto the Romanians, directors like Cristain Mungiu…I don’t know much about the Philippines…

          I mean it is a total joke, the Scottish film industry. Creative Scotland put a few hundred grand into Trainspotting 2, as if that did a single thing for Scottish film talent or the Scottish film industry…

          …and when we get a studio, you guys girn and greet…I put myself in the shoes of Scottish production designer, who really doesn’t fancy moving to London, or an assistant director or a costume designer…or a Scottish producer who can line produce a picture in a studio and with the money he or she earns, put some cash into a first feature, or a short…

          What is the problem with that?

          May Miles Thomas wants us all to become indie film-makers like she is… okay, May, thanks. I want the Revolution too, but there is no sign of it on the horizon…

          In any case, don’t blame Scotland’s film producers, there IS NO MONEY….there is no TV station, let’s start there…and then are the CS bastards, there is no other word for them…total bastards…

          1. I think there’s different layers and levsls to this Redgauntlet (and others in this thread).

            Fist, May is a respected and established film-maker her in her own right (thats why we asked her to write the piece) and her criticisms of the decades of inertia about a lack of infrastructure is well made.

            Second its true that ‘a film studio’ wont be a panacea for all aspects and stages and genres of film-making in this country.

            Third it WILL be great for big budget films being made here, and give an opportunity for Scottish based film industry who have been forced abroad.

          2. Alan Knight says:

            Agreed RedGauntlet, CS are a corrupt waste of space, mediocre and completely untrustworthy, only interested in promoting themselves and their pretentious, empty bullshit. We could fire them all tomorrow (would if i could) and it would free up a fair bit of cash for a film maker or two lol!

        2. You could add the Dogme films to this Brian?

          1. Brian Beadie says:

            Dogme was a very short-lived movement but one that generated great publicity, and even a couple of great films. Do you mean as a model, or for the way it subsequently encouraged international coproduction between Denmark and Scotland? International coproduction, of course, is the best way forward, as Redgauntlet points out Indeed, the notion of what even constitutes a national cinema is growing more porous, and, I would argue, increasingly irrelevant, though Brexit’s going to foul that up.

  16. Redgauntlet says:

    I mean, what can a Scottish film producer actually bring to the table?

    The only thing a Scottish film producer can bring to the table is a) a literary property – either a screenplay or a property to adapt into a screenplay or b) a director, talent.

    They might be able to bring a loan of a few hundred thousand pounds from CS too, if they get lucky but that is it. Finito. There’s no more money….

    What can a European film producer bring to the table? a) a pre sale to a TV station, b) a generous state subsidy, c) a tax break (for example, from the Canary Islands in Spain), D) with all of that, which is to say, with most of the budget, possibly a sales agent who might put in a wee bit money, or else a distribution deal, or maybe a European coproduction, the UK, of course, is not in Eurimage, let’s remember that…. Blair promised we would be in Eurimage, but then reneged.

    A Scottish film producer is dependent on third parties to even begin to dream about financing a picture. It’s just not the same thing to go looking for 20% or 25% or 30% of the budget, which is the situation of most European film producers, as it is to go looking for 70%, or 80% or 90% of the budget. Anybody who knows anything about the European film industry, knows exactly what I’m talking about….

    Don’t blame a studio for the complete absence of a film industry strategy in Scotland, folks, it’s just another red herring…

    We do not have a film industry strategy in Scotland, please do not blame the producers who, despite all the odds, actually try to make it work…

    1. Marcia Blaine says:

      Not another blockbuster (Mary Queen of Jocks) set to be filmed in Edinburgh in the peak tourist season. May I ask where the interiors will be shot?

  17. Lanark says:

    @May Miles Thomas. This was looooong overdue being said. It is beautifully written. I can already hear the shrieks from administrators, Scottish Film, location staff employed foutime by Cooncils etc (they comprise a total of two benches, a busted fag machine and a flickering platform monitor on the Caledonia “Springburn” Monorail – it’s all we were ever gonnae be able to come up wae…). We don’t need a magic Trojan Horse that will let us break into and claim the legendary City of Filmaking Gold…. that kinda magic horse doesnae exist and neither does the City.
    Scotland has produced some really beautiful, thought-provoking and utterly cool films, documentaries, TV productions… but those things were not created by golf/ hotel and studio complexes and custom built facilities in either Cumbernauld, Irvine, Damhead or anywhere.
    Nor could they ever be with the kind of models and trains of Monorail Thought that are being used.
    Feel free to groove on in your own very cool and under-appreciated way. It is very stimulating to read someone write like this.

  18. Marcia Blaine says:

    I hope the new Scottish Cultural Strategy will take into account the studio shambles and consider a new dedicated screen agency. I’d be interested to know who is being invited the the gathering later this month. Not, I hope, the usual cronies and bedwetters and subsidy junkies.

  19. Marcia Blaine says:

    Now that we are to get a film school can we drop the film studio stuff? I AM SURE IT IS WHAT THE GOV ARE HOPING.

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