Michael Sheen and David Tennant Good Omens 2_Amazon Prime

Source: Amazon Prime

Good Omens 2

Inward investment by film and high-end TV (HETV) productions to Scotland doubled between 2019-2021, according to figures published by Screen Scotland today.

This is three times the 39% growth rate experienced by the UK as a whole, according to BFI statistics.

Scotland’s screen sector GVA (gross value added) rose by 9.7% in the period - well ahead of the 1.2% increase in nominal GVA posted by Scotland’s overall economy during that period.

Inward investment film spend in Scotland increased by 110%, from £165.3 million in 2019 to £347.4 million in 2021. An estimated £617.4 million was spent on the production of film, TV and other audiovisual content in Scotland in 2021, compared to £398.6 million in 2019, up 55% compared to 2019. Studio growth enabled inward film and HETV production spend to increase by 110% while overall production spend in Scotland grew by 55%, including content made by Scotland-based producers

Special research commissioned by Screen Scotland and produced by Saffery Champness and Nordicity into the economic value of the screen sector in Scotland was unveiled this week at FirstStage Studios in Leith. The facility opened in 2020 and is presently housing the second series of Amazon’s The Rig, unaffected by the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes.

Isabel Davis - Headshot

Source: Screen Scotland

Isabel Davis

Isabel Davis, Screen Scotland’s executive director, told Screen, the outlook for the Scottish screen sector is positive. “Our economy doesn’t look like the economy in the south-east [of the UK],” she said in reference to the production slowdown in England caused by the strikes. “We have a range of incoming productions. We have quite a diverse economy and not everything is driven by productions where WGA or SAG members are involved. What has served Scotland really well is to have a mix of scripted and unscripted, locally originated, incoming production and so on.”

She added that having “a big streamer” such as Amazon come in to shoot a full series and not just to do location work “has spawned an awful lot of confidence elsewhere in the business.”

This is the second economic impact report Screen Scotland has commissioned following one in 2019. 

“It came out of a need for proper stats across the screen sector because there wasn’t anything that could help us benchmark what the screen sector was worth,” said Davis. “If you look at the UK stats, you get one number for the UK. We didn’t see ourselves reflected in the bigger stats and so had no way of measuring growth.” 

Scotland has been benefiting from the activity at studios including FirstStage, Wardpark in Cumbernauld, the home of Outlander (for Starz, Sony Pictures Television and Left Bank Pictures) and other facilities such as The Pyramids in Bathgate (where season two of Amazon’s Good Omens recently shot), Glasgow’s Kelvin Hall, the recently opened Nightsky Studios in Coatbridge and Studio Alba on the Isle of Lewis.

 “It was fair to say that the growth was there to be had but you can see very clearly the impact of building new film studios in that number,” Davis said. “We are very mindful of having a range of different sizes of facilities so they’re not in competition - they’re actually providing a very symbiotic eco-system. Crew who are Scottish or want to live in Scotland now know they can live in Scotland because of the impact [the increase in studio facilities] has had on the production pipeline.”

Additionally, Scottish studios do not face the same daunting challenges over very fast-rising business rates as their English and Welsh counterparts.

Screen Scotland aims to publish research reports into the health of the sector every two years.