Since Gerard Butler was announced as the official Ambassador of the Glasgow Film Office in 2009, several big-budget film projects have set up production in and around Glasgow. Films such as The Dark Knight, Cloud Atlas, and World War Z have all made use of Glasgow’s resources and helped to promote it as a potentially lucrative location within the film industry.
But with Hollywood movies reportedly boosting Scotland’s economy by as much as £23 million in the past year alone, what benefits can this new found resource bring for Glasgow and how can the Scottish Government capitalise on its success?
Statistics released by the Glasgow Film Office last year showed that more than 801 days of filming took place in the previous 12 months – a 10 per cent rise on the year before. This meant that Glasgow was able to accrue large amounts of extra revenue through hotel bookings, temporary local employment and location costs. This extra revenue is something that Culture Secretary, Fiona Hyslop, says can bring great benefit for Scottish people. She said:
“Scotland is already competing as a shooting location on the international stage and demand from film and television companies continues to grow. The Scottish Government values the contribution that film making makes to the economy. More importantly however, we’re aware of the contribution it makes to Scotland’s rich cultural life.”
This has already led several MSPs to call for greater investment into post-production facilities in the city to capitalise on the success. One potential idea that has been mooted is the development of studio facilities near the Pacific Quay area to allow for indoor filming and post-production, similar to London’s Pinewood Studios. This would mean that full projects could be completed almost entirely in the city.
MSPs have argued that this would be an attractive prospect to film-makers after the Scottish Government designated Pacific Quay a Creative Industries Enterprise Zone, meaning that tax breaks could be given for businesses in the creative industries who operate there.
Speaking on the best way to attract big-budget productions to Scotland, Ms Hyslop said:
“If we want to welcome those from outside Scotland, we need somewhere to welcome them to – and that’s why we’ve stepped up our efforts to work with the commercial sector on film and television production facilities. Clearly there will need to be a business case for any development but the new tax relief incentive has brought a fresh impetus here.
Later this year, Creative Scotland will publish a film sector review that will look at film in all its aspects in Scotland. It is expected that the report will take a similar view to that expressed by many MSPs and state that further investment is needed if Scotland is to capitalise on its success in the film industry thus far.
This kind of investment could benefit Scotland not just through the extra revenue that it would bring in but through the opportunity for job creation, film tourism and the clear incentive for students to get involved and consider film-making as a potential career.
Check out this video of George Square being transformed for filming World War Z: