Scottish TV and film industry could be worth £1bn by 2030, claims minister

A report by Screen Scotland found the sector contributed almost £568 million to Scotland’s economy in 2019.

Tetris filming in Glasgow
Tetris filming in Glasgow

The value of the Scottish TV and film industry could double to £1 billion by the end of the decade, Scottish Culture Secretary Angus Robertson has said.

He was speaking at the launch of a new report by Screen Scotland, a Scottish Government agency promoting the TV and film sector in Scotland, which shows the industry contributed almost £568 million to Scotland’s economy in 2019.

Mr Robertson accused the UK Government of undermining public broadcasting, which he described as the “cornerstone” of TV production in Scotland.

David Smith, Isabel Davis, Angus Robertson, Emma Picken and Douglas Mackinnon at the launch of new report showing film and TV industry made half a billion for the Scottish economy (Neil Hanna)

He said: “Right across the piece in Scotland, we can be hugely pleased with the progress that’s been made in recent years.

“We need to make sure that we avoid bumps in the road, which unfortunately we are currently facing with the UK Government and seeking to undermine public service broadcasters like Channel 4, which it is looking at privatising, and what it is doing with the BBC licence fee.

Batman filming – Glasgow
A film in the Batman franchise was recently filmed in Glasgow (PA)

“These are bad developments for public service broadcasters who are still the cornerstone of TV production in Scotland.”

Both Screen Scotland and Mr Robertson said the £568 million figure is expected to have risen following the boom in demand for productions in Scotland in 2021, which have included Indiana Jones, Batman, Batgirl and The Rig, starring Martin Compston.

Mr Robertson estimated the value of the screen industry in Scotland could double to £1 billion.

He added: “This report confirms that the value of the industry is now three times larger than was previously thought to be the case.

“If the growth trend continues, it will grow from half a billion pounds to 1 billion pounds by the year 2030. This is tremendous news for the Scottish economy in general.

“We’ve gone from a situation in Scotland where we have had very little in the way of film and TV productions, very limited studio space, very limited investment, and very limited career prospects. And this has all been totally turned around in recent years, with a proliferation of new studios.

Filming in Glasgow
Last summer, parts of Glasgow were transformed into 1960s New York for filming of the new Indiana Jones movie (PA)

“The Scottish Government is trying to help the growth trend continue in terms of helping to secure studio space, helping to secure new television and film productions, but then also help assist in the training of people who want to work in the film and TV industry, because companies that are wanting to film productions in Scotland need to know that the talent is here to do all of the important jobs, on-set, pre-production, post-production.”

The report, commissioned by Screen Scotland and produced by Saffery Champness and Nordicity, also shows the industry provided 10,280 full-time equivalent jobs – and directors expect the demand for jobs to increase in Scotland.

David Smith, director of screen at Screen Scotland, said: “It’s one of our kind of core functions at the moment, the development of a crew base. We have the spaces, we need crew to work within them. Some of those are going to be developed within Scotland, some of them are going to be converted from other interests within Scotland, the theatre sectors crew is now often working within the film sector.

“When I grew up, if you wanted to work in film and television, you had to get on a bus, you had to get on a train, you had to get on a plane. And that’s not the case anymore. You can stay, live and work in Scotland. And there are good-value jobs.”

Isabel Davis, executive director at Screen Scotland, said: “We will grow, if we are able to train both the local crew base and to develop the creative talent, that’s going to be the creators of the next shows as well.

Batgirl filming in Glasgow
A new report shows the film and TV industries contributed almost £568 million to the Scottish economy (PA)

“We see those two things working in tandem, we see it as a virtuous circle.

“Every single film economy in the world is currently facing a skills challenge, and it’s certainly very acute in the UK. We have been very successful overall as the UK and most recently in Scotland in attracting those large-scale productions.

“But what that has meant is the supply and demand needs readjusting, to put it in quite technical terms. What that means on the ground is that our crew are incredibly busy.”

Screen Scotland was set up in 2019 and drives development of Scotland’s film and television industry. It is part of Creative Scotland and receives funding from the Scottish Government and the National Lottery.

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