SCOTTISH SCREEN - A Review by the Scottish Executive
4 THE ACTIVITIES OF SCOTTISH SCREEN
37. Scottish Screen uses its grant in aid of 2.625m. p.a. to support a wide range of programmes and activities. These are organised and managed through its various departments.
The overall breakdown of its funding between departments is shown in the Table below.
Scottish Screen spending, by programme/department, in 2001/02
Grant in aid 000
Other Income 000
% of Total
Source: Scottish Screen - Operational Budget 2001/02. Data are on an estimated out-turn basis.
(*) This included 2m from prior years. Because of the time scales of film production projects there are long-standing large Lottery awards outstanding from year to year waiting for production companies to finalise their finance packages. At April 2002 awards already committed ahead for financial year 2002-2003 totalled 1.875m. Funds available for further awards at 11/06/02 are estimated at 1.625m.
The various programmes and activities include:
Script reading/Writers Awards, Documentary Development, Company Development,
Short & Feature Film schemes and promotion, advice services: Distribution/print schemes: MEDIA PLUS (the EU screen programme): the Locations Service.
This work is complemented by the Lottery funding. Some of the schemes focused on development take the form of soft loans which are repayable if/when the project goes into the production phase.
Short courses, New Entrants Scheme, Assessment Centre for SVQs, Bursaries, R&D.
Education projects, students schemes, exhibition (grants to 11 RFTs).
'Projecting Scotland' scheme, Edinburgh International Film Festival, International Festivals and Events, Locations Service, website and database development.
Development of Scottish Screen Archive, Information Service:
Activities also lever further direct industry contributions of approx. 180k p.a. Developing partnerships to link screen production, access, and training into wider creative industries opportunities created by convergence.
38. This is a diverse range of activities, many of which are relatively small scale in extent. Many of the programmes and activities lack specific objectives or evaluation measures and their impacts are therefore uncertain. Rationalisation of programmes and objectives would seem to be overdue.
JOINT PROGRAMMES/OVERLAPS/PARTNERSHIPS WITH OTHER KEY AGENCIES
39. While Scottish Screen is the national screen agency, in a number of the areas the activities of other national agencies are of importance to the screen industry or relevant to the remit set out for Scottish Screen. Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Arts Council are significant in the role they do or might play. However, as the assessment below suggests, the extent of joint working and joint programme development is limited.
SCOTTISH ENTERPRISE CREATIVE INDUSTRIES STRATEGY
40. The main work on the creative industries in Scotland has been by Scottish Enterprise who published a strategy on the Creative Industries in August 2000.
41. Creative Industries are growing and may accelerate fast. Scottish employment in those aspects of the Creative Industries that focus on the creation of original content material has almost doubled since 1981, keeping well in pace with the national trend. Previous studies for Scottish Enterprise confirmed that the Creative Industries play a substantial role in Scotland's economy, supporting over 70,000 full-time jobs and contributing around 5 billion to GDP. This is reinforced by the fact that Scotland has a greater concentration of employment in the Creative Industries than the average UK region, outside of London and the South East of England.
42. The strategy sets the framework under which 25m will be allocated over the next five years. It includes:
The rapid development of the Pacific Quay site in Glasgow as a digital media centre and the development of a Creative Industries Campus on Tayside.
A creative industries international marketing strategy, exploiting overseas exhibitions and marketing opportunities, led by Scottish Development International.
Enable businesses to exploit opportunities in the delivery and content industries.
Business development programmes for SMEs in the creative industries.
Training and skills development through a range of initiatives and with a number of partners.
43. That strategy is in its second year. It sought to place the creative industries within the mainstream of Scottish Enterprise support programmes and strategies. It therefore used the concept of clusters - building on a methodology that had been developed and proved particularly useful in relation to the microelectronics and food and drink sectors.
44. Scottish Enterprise's approach is strongly focused on digital developments - reflecting the overall orientation of Scottish Enterprise's development strategies. It is less concerned with supporting or promoting content as such, where the primary role falls to Scottish Screen, the Scottish Arts Council, and the broadcasters.
45. It is not yet clear how successful Scottish Enterprise's strategy is and a report of its first year is expected to be published shortly. Questions were raised by a number of consultees in this review about how effective it will be outside of Pacific Quay and the Tayside interactive software cluster, and how the Local Enterprise Network will deliver a consistent service across Scotland for creative industries as a whole. More importantly for this review, the strategy's relevance to film may be relatively slight. Digital media is the primary focus of interest for Scottish Enterprise. Film is not of significant interest since it lacks the growth potential that Scottish Enterprise seek, but it is a sector which can benefit from improved business skills, new technologies and new platforms - all of which are within Scottish Enterprise's remit and which they engage in.
46. Importantly, intellectual properties can also be traded in the form of legal rights to commercial exploitation. An author can sell the rights to adapt a book to a film without actually having to write a film script. Although hard to quantify, the value of 'repurposing' rights traded in today's creative industries may be at least as great as the value of trade in the content itself. However, in the Creative Industries the normal linkage between product quality and commercial success does not operate consistently. A film made to the highest quality standards may be a flop at the box office. A low budget, technically inferior work may enjoy disproportionate success.
47. In a number of respects what the creative industries require from Scottish Enterprise is little different from other business sectors - development finance, small business advice, skills development and training and so on. While Scottish Enterprise cannot consider cultural value, critical acclaim, or similar factors to guide its investment strategies, the connection between the quality of creative content and sustainable business development is significant. If the full potential of the creative industries in Scotland is to be achieved, further consideration is required of how to make more effective linkages between the enterprise aspects of the sector and the cultural where business models on robustly commercial lines are not yet available.
48. Within this context there is one joint programme between Scottish Screen and Scottish Enterprise (i.e. Scottish Screen 230k, and Scottish Enterprise 70k:) a joint initiative to develop business skills and business planning skills in production companies and linked directly to the provision of funding for projects. An objective is to raise some companies to a competence threshold to qualify for further Scottish Enterprise business development support in future. Scottish Enterprise Creative Industries Team itself has raised questions about the value of its current joint programme with Scottish Screen. The two agencies had unrelated measures of success and different perceptions of the effectiveness of the scheme.
The scheme has been operational for two years, is now in its third year and will be reviewed.
SCOTTISH ARTS COUNCIL
49. There are no current joint programmes with SAC. However, the potential would seem to be there. The screen industries should benefit from the development of the 'Writers Factory' project currently being investigated by a Scottish Arts Council feasibility study.
50. Scottish Arts Council do not identify specific objectives for screen industries; nor do they identify the creative industries separately. Visual Arts is the only department which gives financial support to lens-based media, and this is unlikely to impact on Scottish Screen since the work is experimental. Other areas of the arts may be less directly relevant but call on similar sets of skills and personnel - writing for example. A number of Creative Scotland awards made by SAC in recent years are based on video techniques or have a digital element, reflecting some of the pressures and opportunities of convergence that technological developments is offering the artistic community. SAC support the commissioning of new music by composers which can include incidental music for drama, dance or film where the music is an integral element in the production/film's conception and would stand alone in a performance format.
51. Lottery funding of arts centres which include a cinema/image projection can bring SAC and Scottish Screen together. The development of Dundee Contemporary Arts is a prime example. Similarly the development of digital media access centres have been funded through SAC lottery.
52. The SAC is of the view that there is a lot of work to be done on developing support for Creative Industries, initially in the form of mapping, and are keen to work more closely with Scottish Screen and Scottish Enterprise to achieve this. They have worked with Scottish Enterprise, developing joint programmes of support for publishing and music distribution using new or emergent technology. There would seem to be unexplored potentials for joint working with Scottish Screen.
53. The continuing study - the 'Audit Of The Screen Industries In Scotland' - will be researching and producing comprehensive data and conclusions relating to production for television in Scotland and the impact of the broadcasters on independent producers and the development of the screen industries in general. Moves to regional production and the development of a new regulatory framework by the UK Government provide an important context for the further development of policy in this area.
54. It is clear that any film industry in Scotland is only possible because of the presence of the broadcasters and their programme making requirements. It is they who support the craft base fundamental to the industry. Nevertheless some concerns are expressed by independent producers that Scottish Screen's activities are overly influenced by the needs of the broadcasters, which are different from the needs of the fledgling independent screen industry, and that Scottish Screen does not effectively represent the needs of that industry to the broadcasters. They suggest that the broadcasters should invest more heavily in indigenous product and talent. The broadcasters suggest that their views are wholly determined by issues of quality which must determine what is seen on screen.
55. Training is a key area of interaction with the broadcasters. Part of Scottish Screen's delivery of support to the industry meets the training needs of the broadcasters and it is important that this does not simply substitute for resources that broadcasters would otherwise have invested in training.
56. The development of Skillset as the Sector Skills Council for the audiovisual industries (see Annexe B) may contribute to a clearer definition of Scottish Screen's role in training. Skillset has been given its remit by the UK Government as part of a new national framework of Sector Skills Councils, which are to be high profile employer led strategic bodies charged with driving up skills and productivity by encouraging the delivery of training and vocational education provision which meets industry needs. The Skills Council's role is to lead the production of labour force intelligence, research into skills availability, future skills requirements, and a strategic Sector Workforce Development Plan for Scotland. Skillset has a productive and well-established relationship with Scottish Screen whom it identifies as a key partner in Scotland. This should ensure that the approach to training is properly balanced between the needs of the broadcasters and the rest of the production community.
THE FILM COUNCIL
57. The UK Film Council has been in existence for two years, following a radical shake-up of UK public film funding. Its formation from a range of predecessor organisations to become a new key strategic organisation with responsibility for advancing the film industry and film culture closely mirrors the earlier formation of Scottish Screen in Scotland.
58. When the Film Council was set up it took over existing Department for Media Culture and Sport (DCMS) support provided to film from the public sector with the exception of funding for the National Film and Television School. It is therefore designed to provide strategic policy leadership and to be the source of public sector finance for film activity, utilising both Lottery and Treasury grant funding.
59. In response to national (Scottish, Welsh, and Northern Irish) agendas for film development The Film Council has begun to work with agencies in devolved areas on a detailed statement, setting out the roles and complementary activities for these national film agencies as well as supporting UK programmes at the regional level. This will be a critically important document - many aspects of film development can only be considered on a UK basis. For example taxation is a reserved matter, distributors operate internationally. Continued effective liaison between Scottish Screen and the Film Council is therefore essential.
GLASGOW FILM OFFICE (GFO) AND THE FILM COMMISSION NETWORK
60. The GFO is the largest of the local film commissions reflecting the significance of the sector in Glasgow. It is supported by Scottish Enterprise Glasgow and the City Council. Its budget is 629k p.a. over three years (2002-05). 50% of this is European (ERDF) funding.
61. GFO estimate that Glasgow currently commands 4% of the UK 'regional' (i.e. non-London) output in television drama, documentary and comedy. By interventions in support of targeted companies they plan to raise this to 6% by 2005. Ideal World, Wark Clements and the Comedy Unit are now among the top 100 production companies in television in the UK.
62. Scottish Screen is represented on the management team of Glasgow Film Office by its CEO. Scottish Screen Locations Service directs incoming locations enquiries to the GFO as it does to other film offices across Scotland.
63. It is important that the functions of GFO and Scottish Screen complement each other. GFO operates on more commercial criteria than Scottish Screen and targets already established companies with track records. GFO provides assistance to film crews shooting on location or basing their projects in Glasgow including film and television production, documentaries and commercials. There is a Film Charter for the City of Glasgow and a Code of Practice for filming in Glasgow. Other support includes a guide to film crew and facilities in Scotland, and a locations database for Glasgow. They also offer small bursaries for freelance personnel to access training.
64. While some companies may be able to benefit from support from both Scottish Screen and GFO this is because they can demonstrate how their projects meet the differing criteria of each agency. Nevertheless there are some issues of overlap and duplication of function and effort which require to be addressed in discussion with the Enterprise Network locally and nationally. The development of an overarching strategy would ensure that this risk is minimised and the Scottish Executive may wish to consider working with the relevant agencies to bring this about.
OTHER LOCAL FILM OFFICES/FILM COMMISSIONS
65. Overall progress in locations and locations marketing has been positive in a volatile and competitive international market. Scottish Screen has successfully worked with local partners and more recently with VisitScotland and the national role is understood and makes a significant contribution. The use of Scotland as a location has broadened beyond the conventional scenic and this trend should be consolidated. Scottish Screen's national role is significant and its efforts to co-ordinate a network of local film commissions has proved of value.
66. There are 10 local film commissions throughout Scotland in addition to the Glasgow film office. Their primary function is to assist producers identify locations and ensure proper support for production locally. They may also directly support particular projects where there is a significant local employment impact.
67. Scottish Screen Locations Service is a point of contact for incoming producers considering Scotland as a shooting location. 45,000 still photographs detail over 4000 diverse locations across Scotland, offer initial Scotland wide promotion, information, and contacts, and direct incoming interest in Scottish locations to the appropriate Film Offices across Scotland.
68. Local Film Offices/Commissions reported a view of Scottish Screen as the hub for their activities. They commented that they greatly valued Scottish Screen marketing and promotion of Scotland as a location. The vehicle provided for marketing of their own locality, particularly in relation to opportunities for promotion abroad is also regarded as important, as is the fast response service offered by Scottish Screen to potential shoots looking for locations.
69. Scottish Screen is in a position to contribute to the developing interface between Higher and Further Education, and the creative industries sector. Within that context the framework for research, developing and accrediting training and vocational education through work with the SQA being proposed by Skillset as the Sector Skills Council for the audiovisual industries will be important. Creativity in education at all levels and as an important factor in the economy is a developing area of interest more widely.
70. There is scope for the further development of joint approaches with other public agencies and for the identification of common strategies, particularly with the Scottish Arts Council. Links with the broadcasters remain important and support for regional production is also significant. A consistent approach to the links with local screen commissions is also desirable. Participation in the developing dialogues between agencies, industry, and education is crucial.
71. Relations with the Film Council and the development of the Scottish industry within the UK context is significant.
72. At a national level there is a need for greater coherence in the framework of local film commissions.