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Lights, camera, Scotland as surge in streaming boosts screen industries

© Supplied by Hires PhotographyMartin Compston in The Rig
Martin Compston in The Rig

Scotland’s screen industries are preparing for a blockbuster year that will see the country establish itself as one of the world’s leading entertainment producers, according to experts.

A number of high-profile projects, for screens big and small, will be filmed in Scotland in 2022, promising a busy and lucrative year for the industry.

A growing reputation for local crews, our cities’ ability to double for international locations, bigger studio facilities, and being one of the first in the industry to return after Covid-19 has pushed Scotland up the list of possible shoot locations.

Caris Pittendreigh, screen commission officer at Screen Scotland, said: “This coming year will see some of the biggest projects in the world come here.

“We are now global. Over the last decade to two decades, Scotland has been building a good reputation as a strong place to base for large-scale productions.

“Our crew and facilities also have world-class reputations, and having the infrastructure and facilities ready to go is a huge seller for productions.”

Already, 2021 has been a huge year for filming in Scotland, with major Hollywood studio films like Indiana Jones 5, The Batman and The Flash filming here, as well as major TV and streaming shows like Vigil and The Rig, starring Martin Compston.

The most recently-published Scottish production spend figure was £95 million in 2017, but that is expected to be much bigger when up-to-date numbers are released in the New Year.

Pittendreigh continued: “Because of the backlog from 2020 filming, it’s safe to say the 2021 figures will go beyond what was there before.”

Upcoming productions already announced are the second series of Amazon’s Good Omens, starring David Tennant, and Anansi Boys, also from Amazon. Batgirl is also reported to begin filming soon in Glasgow.

“Our locations can double for anywhere – San Francisco in Cloud Atlas, Philadelphia in World War Z, and in the past year, Moscow and Japan for Tetris, which is out soon.

“We have four studios that can facilitate bigger productions – First Stage in Leith, where The Rig was filmed, Wardpark in Cumbernauld, where Outlander is, Pyramid in West Lothian, where Outlaw King and Shetland have filmed, and the Kelvin Hall development,” added Pittendreigh.

Scotland was also one of the first countries to begin filming again after lockdown, which gave it a head start on other locations. Productions such as Annika and The Origin were made here in the early days of post-Covid restrictions.

Last week, two new major production companies were announced. Buccaneer Media, the London-based TV company behind Marcella and Crime, has teamed with actor Dougray Scott to launch a new production business dedicated to creating original international drama series with Scottish literary talent.

Based in Glasgow, it is currently developing two Irvine Welsh novels, including The Blade Artist, in which Robert Carlyle will return as his Trainspotting character, Begbie.

And Emanata Studios, which will have offices in Dundee and London, will have access to DC Thomson’s entire comic archive to develop content for international audiences.

A UKTV comedy pilot script has been commissioned for a Dandy character, a drama is being developed on the Hotspur character Nick Jolly The Flying Highway Man, two adult animations are being worked on by MTV, and live action dramas are being developed by Sky Studios and Drama Republic.