North of Scotland needs its own film studio

Openbrolly MD Samantha Hill
Samantha Hill says the north and north-east offers tremendous potential for filmmakers if studio facilities existed. 

A film studio in the north of Scotland would boost the economy of the area and encourage organic growth of the area as a filming location as well as advertising the area as a tourism destination.

Openbrolly MD Samantha Hill has spoken about the benefits such a facility could bring.

“We”Our company has customers all over the country and overseas, however the area in which the company was founded and grew, still has no studio facilities, despite it being an attractive location.”

Openbrolly was founded in the Highlands more than 20 years ago, making software for specific industry applications. It has found success most notably with its MovieSite application which facilitates the management of locations, crew, permissions and licences for the public sector agencies that host production companies filming in their region.

It has acquired dozens of customers, largely local authorities, who use its software to help promote locations, from Aberdeenshire, where scenes for Peaky Blinders were recently filmed; to Calderdale, where the immensely popular Happy Valley was shot, now three seasons in.

Organic growth

MD Samantha Hill says the pattern of success for most areas is the same – Once major broadcasters have used local facilities, the rest follows organically.

“Having studio and management facilities at locations is key to getting big productions to settle. But it’s also useful for smaller, and educational, projects.”

“Production companies will often turn down the ideal location due to lack of infrastructure. Having no studio facilities is a big headache for film producers, so they spend in another area, or give up entirely.”

“Our clients have some of the best locations in the world for film, TV and on-screen advertising – the industry has been talking about this for as long as I’ve been in it, and we’re no further forward.”

“Interior scenes for productions are often filmed in the city hundreds of miles away.
That’s not only counterproductive for filmmakers, but also for the area.”
Openbrolly has worked in the sector for 25 years across the UK and Ireland, and with both Filming in Scotland and Scot film assisting them to promote film and TV since 2000.

Inward investment

Netflix has recently revealed it has spent £4.8bn since 2000 on UK productions, fifty percent more than anticipated, with three new titles in the pipeline.

Mrs Hill added that the benefits are massive from inward investment, promotion of the area as a tourism destination, local employment, work for local trades, etc.

“Large productions are constantly scouting.

“With Aberdeenshire and the Highlands as MovieSite clients, together, we can instantly provide crew, production companies and facilities, so we’re in a position to hit the ground running. Film production also requires specialist skills, and without this facility locally, they too have to be brought in.
“There is also an increasing responsibility for acting sustainably. Money spent on fuel, energy and travel could be better spent locally. However, the biggest growth area is leisure spend.
“There is a national shortage of studio space and we have unique locations. Cast crew can stay longer in an area. Local businesses will benefit.”
Last month, Bafta-winning filmmaker Anthony Baxter said: “a new film studio in Inverness or Aberdeen would be a tremendous asset for Scotland. There is a growing list of high-end content being shot in the country for streaming platforms and available studio space offering adaptable sound stages is key.”

He went on to say that the knock-on effects of production ripple through the local economy, as Edinburgh has proven with The Rig. Amazon is reported to have invested more than £50m and created 750 jobs through filming several big series in Scotland.

Mrs Hill added: “Setting up a new studio can be a complex process that requires careful planning and consideration and it can attract inward investments from a variety of sources, including government, private investment, real estate development, and tourism and economic development. 
“We’re not in the business of building studios, but we’d love to see this happen, and we’d be happy to be part of the solution.”

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