Page last updated at 07:41 GMT, Wednesday, 9 July 2008 08:41 UK

Monster interest in loch filming

By Steven McKenzie
Highlands and Islands reporter, BBC Scotland news website

Special effects on Loch Ness (Pic: Sony Pictures Home/PA)
Special effects at Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness promote The Water Horse

Loch Ness and the surrounding area are on the brink of a boom time due to the number of films being shot there, it has been predicted.

Willie Cameron, a location manager, said the past 10 days had been among the busiest in recent years.

Scottish Highlands and Islands Film Commission said there had been a gradual rise in inquiries about the loch from the film industry.

The figure has grown from about 30 to 200 in the last seven years.

Recent films to draw inspiration from the water's mythical monster include made-for-TV horror Beyond Loch Ness.

Produced by Canada's Insight Film Studios, it follows a cryptozoologist's hunt for man-eating Nessie years after it killed his father during an ill-fated trip on Loch Ness.

A promotional stunt to launch a DVD for a more mainstream film - The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep - was one of a series of events involving the Highlands loch in the last 10 days.

The film itself was shot mostly in New Zealand, but Mr Cameron said the local area still benefits from any spin-offs from features that even just mention the loch, or its monster.

People know not to over charge and not to rip people off
Willie Cameron
Location manager

The Visit Loch Ness location manager said: "I think we're going back to a boom time again.

"Loch Ness goes through a period of popularity and then there is a little dip, but we're in a high interest period just now."

He added: "In the last 10 days we've had the promotion of the Water Horse DVD, a fashion shoot for a German executive clothing magazine and contestants in a German reality TV show came here to collect water from Loch Ness.

"A documentary has been shot on the geology of Loch Ness and we are expecting another one to be done on the geology of the Great Glen."

Scenes for a film called Valhalla Rising are also being shot in nearby Glen Affric, Mr Cameron added.

Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn and starring Mads Mikkelsen, who played the villian in the last Bond film Casino Royale, the feature is about a slave who escapes his Scottish masters before joining a band of Vikings.

LOCH NESS IN FILM AND TV
Incident at Loch Ness starring Werner Herzog is among the most recent films
Loch Ness, which hit screens in 1996, starred Ted Danson as an American scientist who tries to disprove the monster exists
The Family-Ness, was a BBC cartoon series about friendly Scottish monsters
In The Simpson's episode Monty Can't Buy Me Love, the loch is drained revealing an inflatable Nessie with the words Stomp Aberdeen on it. On reading it, Homer shouts: "No way. Aberdeen rules"
The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep is about a young boy who finds a mysterious egg on the shores of Loch Ness. It hatches into the mythical beast of the title

Scottish Highlands and Islands Film Commission, which is publicly funded and works closely with Scottish Screen, said the interest in using the loch as a location was international.

A spokeswoman said: "Loch Ness attracts roughly three or four projects a year from all parts of the world.

"National Geographic and Russian TV stations are the most noted.

"Mostly it attracts documentary filmmakers, advertisement and TV programmes which choose to film there as opposed to feature films."

She added: "There has been a steady increase over the past seven years and Loch Ness is identified as one of the most popular places to film in the Highland region beside Eileen Donan Castle, Glen Nevis and Skye."

VisitScotland said promotions based around The Water Horse have been worth more than $400,000 - about 203,000 - to the Scottish economy.

It said on the back of the film, 27,000 people have entered a competition to win a trip to Scotland and 9,000 have requested regular updates on information from VisitScotland.

Results of marketing activity in the UK and Europe is still being completed.

Meanwhile, Mr Cameron said local businesses have switched on to the need to be flexible when dealing with the film industry.

He said: "Film crews don't work on normal time. They want breakfasts at five in the morning and dinner at 11 at night.

"People know not to over charge and not to rip people off. These days many of the film crews are working on a tight budget."


SEE ALSO
Heritage status could boost loch
14 Mar 08 |  Highlands and Islands
Orkney beast 'similar to Nessie'
03 Nov 07 |  Highlands and Islands
Tourist boat hopes to find Nessie
19 Apr 07 |  Highlands and Islands

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