Isabel Davis, executive director of government agency Screen Scotland, has reported a “significant increase” in the level of filming during a year which saw the release of a string of delayed films and TV shows, as well as significant progress made to improve the country’s studio infrastructure.
Ms Davis stressed that the agency had worked hard to ensure cameras could keep rolling during Covid restrictions and that cinemas across the country could reopen safely during the pandemic.
However she also expressed concern about the potential impact of the Omicron variant, even though productions are able to keep filming and cinemas can stay open under the current restrictions.Studio facilities across Scotland have been used for several long-term drama series, including Nail Gaiman shows Anansi Boys and Good Omens, the Amazon Prime series The Rig, new Channel 4 prison drama Screw and time-travel fantasy series Outlander.
The last year has seen Glasgow stand in for New York for the new Indiana Jones movie, parts of the Highlands appearing in Daniel Craig’s James Bond swansong and Aberdeenshire depicting Moscow in Jon S Craig’s new film Tetris.
Made-in-Scotland TV dramas launched in 2021 included Vigil, Annika, Guilt, Shetland and Irvine Welsh’s debut series Guilt, while new films released included Limbo and Our Ladies.
An official report on the UK industry published last month estimated that Scotland’s screen sector was worth more than £250 million to the economy by 2019.
However it is thought that the growing number of productions filming in Scotland has boosted this figure to almost £500 million.
Ms Davis said: “Across 2021, we’ve seen a significant increase in the level of filming in Scotland, with Amazon’s The Rig and Anansi Boys filming at FirstStage Studios, Good Omens at The Pyramids, Indiana Jones taking over Glasgow City Centre, Apple’s Tetris showing Aberdeen’s versatility as it doubled for Moscow and Britbox’s detective drama Crime shooting across Edinburgh and Glasgow.
“Alongside these there were four first feature films – The Origin, Girl, Silent Roar and Aftersun – produced in Scotland with Scottish writers, directors, producers and world-class crew.
“On TV, it’s been a fantastic year for productions made in Scotland including Vigil, which became the biggest new drama launch on BBC One for three years. Annika, Guilt series two, series six of Shetland, Killing Escobar and The Brilliant World of Tom Gates all performed exceptionally well.
“Studio infrastructure looks set to continue to grow next year, with the acquisition of Ward Park Studios by Hackman Capital Partners and Square Mile Capital, and The Pyramids by London & Regional.
“BBC Studioworks have recently come aboard the Kelvin Hall redevelopment as operators of its forthcoming entertainment studio, which sits alongside the drama/film build space that hosted STV Studios’ Screw.
“Despite the pandemic creating very challenging conditions for us all, we’ve worked together to keep cameras rolling throughout the year, and to ensure festivals and cinemas could open.
“Omicron has made all of that more difficult and serious than it was at the start of December, and we’re working with the Scottish Government to deliver support.”