Film Industry

– in the Scottish Parliament on 25th April 2019.

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Photo of Richard Lyle Richard Lyle Scottish National Party

3. To ask the Scottish Government what steps it is taking to help the film industry. (S5O-03138)

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

We are strongly supporting our vibrant screen sector through significantly increased Scottish Government funding while the recently launched screen Scotland is helping to grow the industry with streamlined public sector support.

Since its launch last year, screen Scotland has expanded the production growth fund for film and introduced new funds for television, skills and talent development, including the broadcast content fund. That fund has already awarded funds totalling nearly £1.3 million to 10 Scotland-based companies, including Firecrest Films, Once Were Farmers and Blazing Griffin, to support production and new programme development.

Figures from Creative Scotland show that screen sector production spend has risen to a record high of £95 million, while we are seeing more high-profile films and network TV drama being made in Scotland, such as “Outlaw King”, “The Cry” and “The Victim”.

Infrastructure is important to continue that growth, and we welcome screen Scotland’s tender last December to seek a private company to convert and operate the Pelamis building as a high-end studio. We look forward to the outcome of that project.

Photo of Richard Lyle Richard Lyle Scottish National Party

That is quite impressive. What action is the Government taking to encourage outside production firms and producers to come to Scotland? Does any department in the cabinet secretary’s portfolio have regular discussions with the film industry?

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

Creative industry officials in my department have regular discussions with film companies. Only last week, I was at Blazing Griffin, which is a Scotland-based company, where I discussed some of the opportunities that it has on film, television and gaming.

However, the responsibility to support inward investment and production lies with screen Scotland and, indeed, with cities and other organisations in Scotland. We are a very attractive place to locate to, but the big difference in what we are doing now is to ensure that indigenous Scottish companies can generate recurring drama and films that are attractive to broadcasters to screen all over the world.

Photo of Claire Baker Claire Baker Labour

Last November, Iain Munro, who is from Creative Scotland, updated the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee on screen Scotland’s plans for a film studio and talked about the process for testing state aid rules. The cabinet secretary has briefly referred to that, but can she provide any further information on progress in that area and on the tender process?

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

The tender process is proceeding. Screen Scotland, which sits in Creative Scotland, is finalising the process. I am not in a position to share information about it, but the tender process is reaching its final stages.

Photo of Stuart McMillan Stuart McMillan Scottish National Party

Does the cabinet secretary agree that, given the ever-increasing, high demand for quality productions, additional studio capacity should always be under consideration? A studio in Inverclyde would offer such additional capacity.

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

Screen Scotland leads on the expansion and delivery of infrastructure for the screen sector. Currently, it markets 136,000 square feet of full-time converted stage space and 335,000 square feet of build space across Scotland.

I have just answered a question about the on-going tender process. I have repeatedly said that there is room in Scotland for more than one studio. Indeed, we already have a studio in Wardpark. If a private sector company is willing to develop studio space in Inverclyde, that would be very welcome indeed. I am not aware of any current plans or proposals to do so.