Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Creative Scotland Film Funding Debacle, Martin Compston Renews Call for Major Scottish Studio

Things are looking somewhat dim for the future continued funding of films in Scotland. New reports indicate that a restructuring of the agencies that regulate and fund the arts in Scotland into a singular "Creative Scotland" body may lead to heavily diminished funding for those who seek to make films in their country. Last week, one person on the transition team, Iain Smith, resigned over concerns about the haste in the project, and citing that "film policy was in danger of "backsliding into the past."

The Herald reports further, with this grim news:

Michael Russell, the culture minister admitted last night there is unlikely to be any new government funding for Scottish film-making in the near future.

Without a devolution of tax-raising powers, or an ability at Holyrood to create specifically Scottish tax breaks for movie-makers, the current funding levels of around £2m from Scottish Screen are to continue for the foreseeable future, he said.

Mr Russell said he was sympathetic to the idea of an annual Scottish Film Fund to kick-start investment in movies made north of the border, but the money required - up to £10m a year, according to some industry sources - will not be easy to find in the current financial settlement.

Sigma Film's own Gillian Berrie, who has fought so very hard and long to increase visibility a broadening of funding and joint quality film making in Scotland, addressed her concerns to the Minster. The paper states that in reply to Ms. Berrie, it was said:

"Give us the tools and we will do the job, but we have no tax powers and no bargaining power to do that.

"I cannot offer you the £5m, £10m, or £15m that people may be talking about. But in terms of policy, we are not trying to change anything in terms of support for film, but resources are a real problem."

This editor is incredulous at this report. I will offer no insipid cheer leading or indignation or blatant support for Sigma and other companies who have long been trying to produce quality work in Scotland, even saying CREATING CENTERS LIKE the flourishing Film City Glasgow, but I believe the tools are right there in front of you.

Moreover, actor Martin Compston, The Damned United, and star of Sigmas Red Road, and the upcoming Donkeys, also issued a call for a major central Hollywood style studio that all companies in Scotland could access. This idea is of course not new (aka Mr. Connery has had plenty to say on this issue), but Martin emphasizes:

"In terms of acting and our film crews, we punch above our weight."I have shot movies in the Isle of Man and Northern Ireland and seeing what they do with their resources, I think Scotland is crying out for a studio, because with the talent we already have here, we could become the biggest film hub in Europe."The locations we have here are great, and with a studio you can film anything. I have been shooting on location here in Scotland but then had to do studio work elsewhere. We have to have our own proper studio and someone has to take a lead on it."

Mr Russell, speaking at a meeting of key figures in Scotland's creative industries in Glasgow, said he understood the call for a studio, but it would only prosper alongside a healthy movie industry, which is unlikely to be funded by more money from the public purse in the short term.

Again, incredibility! While I do not pretend to understand all the nuances and back scenes politics, its fairly obvious that it could work. Yes yes YES the economy is bad, good lord no one is denying that, but there has to be parity and realization of investing in what actually brings money back into the country SCOTTISH FILMS DO THIS.

Also options exist obviously. Score after scores of articles in the news this week along about all the influx of American, Australian, Chinese, Japanese Europeans all seeking to move into Scotland to take advantage of property-what are these people, chopped liver? What about the EXISTING MODEL GILLIAN SET UP with FCG? the new Advance Party- what about working with other countries closely - you most certainly can establish a national Scottish scene. I mean honestly, the whole ffing Homecoming Scotland campaign-calling us home to scotland, how about calling home investors willing to make it happen in their native land??????????There ARE options, and all is not lost YES I KNOW EASIER SAID THAN DONE, hell yes, but I think it could be done, and this whole not continuing the level, even increasing funding for Scottish film, an identifiable viable PRODUCT will backfire. I mean how many tens of thousands come to see locations for Braveheart (done by Aussie/American Mel and starring several Irish actor and extras no less!).

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