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Is Scotland's film future looking better?

At the recent Edinburgh International Television Festival, Academy award-winning actor Kevin Spacey urged the UK and Scottish governments to give film companies tax breaks in order to create new jobs and improve the country’s screen industry.

Spacey said that if more was being done to attract productions, UK projects would no longer have to go abroad to shoot.

The American Beauty actor spoke to local newspaper The Scotsman about help for the industry during a Q & A session. As an example he mentioned upcoming production Filth, starring James McAvoy (which opens in Scottish cinemas late September). The feature not only filmed in Scotland but also ventured across the sea to Sweden and Germany, both of which offer filmmakers tax incentives and grants.

Spacey told the paper: “The reason people go to Germany is because movies are not easy to raise money for, in any time, but particularly in these times, and television is no different.

“As a producer or financier you’re going to go where you get the best bang for your buck and I think that it’s incredibly valuable for governments to reassess their position in these things.”

The House of Cards star said that ministers and decision-makers had to understand their local film industry was in a dangerous position as filmmakers would move to cheaper locations.

Film productions in Scotland and the rest of the UK can apply for a 20% tax credit on filming costs if their total budget doesn't exceed £20m. Above this level it rises to 25%.

Though this might sound a lot, Ireland currently offers 28% and New Zealand - which has similar looking locations - 40%.

Last month Scotland’s culture secretary, Fiona Hyslop, claimed that if Scotland would become independent it would have the ability to offer more incentives then it currently does.

But aside from a campaign statement, promises can not be made and Scotland's TV and film industry is still suffering from the competition.

And recently an additional concern was voiced about another aspect of the state of the Scottish film industry in The Herald Scotland.

Iain Smith, producer of films such as Seven Years in Tibet and Children of Men, described the lack of a film and television studio in Scotland as "a disgrace in the making" and has urged the government to undertake action and support plans for a studio. Without it he said, jobs and income would be lost.

Again, no government action was taken, though the 20% tax incentive was enough to attract a American television network, which is now to build a studio in a converted warehouse in Cumbernauld - their production base for filming a new drama series (Outlander).

Once the series has finished shooting it is hoped that this new complex could become Scotland's first own film and TV studio though it is not certain yet it will be available for renting out. If it is then this can be considered a step forward in the not so forseeable future, and in the meantime... well, the calculated £20m that the production of Outlander will bring to the local economy will just have to suffice.
 



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