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Thursday, October 21, 1999 Published at 08:38 GMT 09:38 UK

UK: Scotland

£255m studio plan for Scotland

The industry took in £28m, breaking 1994's record when Braveheart was filmed

The Scottish film industry has enjoyed a record year and now a £255m studio plan could bring Hollywood to Perthshire. BBC Scotland's arts correspondent Pauline McLean reports.

Pauline McLean: "Post-filming work is done outside Scotland"
Gleneagles is already familiar to American visitors, famous for its golf, its tranquillity and its countryside.

But if a new development goes ahead, it could be acquiring a more glitzy Hollywood image.

A Glasgow developer wants to build a £255m complex in the Perthshire countryside.

Pauline McLean: "Post-filming work is done outside Scotland"
It would include everything your average American film-maker wants - hotels, shops, a golf course and, of course, a state-of-the-art studio.

But he's not the only one with his eye on that market.

Film-makers spent £28m in Scotland last year - a figure to top even 1994's record when Braveheart and Rob Roy were made.

That would be even higher if the film-makers finished their films here instead of going back to London and America.

To do that they'd need dubbing and editing facilities all under one roof.

Irish equivalent

Actor James Cosmo is behind plans for an Inverness studio.

"It was wonderful to work in Ireland on Braveheart, but I saw all that money disappearing from Scotland and as a Scot that really hurt," he said.

[ image: James Cosmo and Ewan McGregor in Trainspotting]
James Cosmo and Ewan McGregor in Trainspotting
"I want to see us to be able to give at least the equivalent of what the Irish are giving.

"They have proved over the last 15 or 20 years that it can provide a massive capital injection into a country.

"It only takes the will of politicians to say 'let's change things'.

"Entertainment is not a fly-by-night organisation any more. It's a huge, huge industry."

Robert de Niro is said to be backing the Inverness scheme, which at £11m, is the cheapest of the studio options.

Sean Connery is the big name on board Sony's proposed development in Edinburgh.

Craft base

But in order to impress the industry, they'll have to get some big names behind the scenes.

John Archer, chief executive of Scottish Screen, explains: "Who you get to do your lighting, who you get to do your dubbing, who is your cinematographer - all those things - people care about far more than they do about a studio building.

[ image: Backing for a Glasgow studio]
Backing for a Glasgow studio
"What we're particularly concerned about is building up the craft base here and getting the skills.

"However, to make the most of the talent that's here, we do need to have a decent film studio where people can do their work properly."

Scottish Screen is still quietly backing plans for a publicly-funded studio in Glasgow although it admits there could be room for more than one studio complex in Scotland.

Others are more cautious. Among them, Neil McCartney, editor of Screen Finance.

"Right now there is a very high level of film-making in Scotland anyway, though of course some of these films don't really have much requirement for studios.

Old warehouse

"Films like Trainspotting and Shallow Grave didn't use purpose-built studios at all.

"Other films like Gregory's Two Girls didn't do much studio work, so one has to be careful about translating that level of film-making activity and assuming that's going to mean a high requirement for studios.

"Very often filmmakers would prefer to, say, convert an old warehouse or an empty school and that might be cheaper than going to a purpose-built studio."

Pauline McLean: "Film-makers spent £28m in Scotland last year"
Scottish film-making has never been higher in profile, which is why each of the studio developments is anxious to make their move.

But first they have to woo funders, local people and the planning authorities.

Only then, can they move onto the task of persuading the industry not just to use Scotland as a location but as somewhere to make their whole films from start to finish.

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