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Scottish Screen a Review by the Scottish Executive


SCOTTISH SCREEN - A Review by the Scottish Executive


10. The following are the key conclusions and recommendations of the review. The recommendations for further action are addressed to Scottish Screen and Scottish Ministers in the main.
Other recommendations require the consideration and involvement of other agencies. Scottish Ministers should draw the report and its recommendations to the attention of those other agencies and seek their active engagement in the implementation and developments identified here.

11. The report identifies the following main trends in the development of film in Scotland:

  • A gradual rise in the level of feature film production in Scotland over the last 10 years.

  • Scottish feature films regularly attract critical success, box office success has been more elusive and problems of distribution are significant.

  • Production for TV has formed the basis for the substantial growth and viability of two production companies who have subsequently added feature film production to their activity.

  • A significant increase in the number of short film schemes.

  • Increased location spend in Scotland although the average spend per production fell reflecting the fact that smaller budget films have been filming in more recent years. There appears to be a ceiling of around 1.5m currently on local spend, regardless of size of film budget. Source: GFO/DGA.

  • Scotland is estimated to have 165 businesses in film with approximately 3500 jobs. Within the independent production sector there are 96 companies in Scotland and 720 people employed, almost 500 as freelancers. (Source PACT Scotland 2001.) Of these however, the significant majority are small one- or two-person companies with turnover less than 10,000. They cannot be said to constitute an industry.

  • Increases in cinema attendances generally in Scotland have been significant. Admissions per head are higher in Scotland than the UK, although overall increases have lagged behind the rest of the UK which has seen a 30-year high this June. Attendances at RFTs however, have increased relative to UK. Scotland has more multiplexes as % of total screens than the UK as a whole.

  • There is great potential in digital technology to reduce production costs and improve distribution However distribution will only be improved with the advent of D-cinema.
    Other benefits include reduced risk, less complex film financing, possibly a fresher approach, a means of funding slate production, and more opportunity to retain rights.
    It also does not try to compete with the Hollywood model.

12. The report concludes that there is a continuing role for a national screen agency in support of the development of the screen industries in Scotland and that it is appropriate that this role should be carried out by a body with the status of NDPB. Scottish Screen should continue to perform that which necessarily covers cultural and business development functions. It is not clear that these can be conveniently separated.

13. It makes the following specific recommendations:

  • The management statement which, at present, governs the relationship between Scottish Screen and the Executive should be revised to identify more clearly the Executive's priorities and to provide the basis for performance indicators.

  • Scottish Screen should be invited to set out underlying strategies in relation to the Screen Archive, the regional film theatres and the development of digital media access centres. These strategies should identify the added value of them being managed alongside support for the production community. If this cannot be done satisfactorily Ministers should consider alternative approaches to the management of these cultural functions.

  • Scottish Screen must make more of the potential to work with other agencies, most notably Scottish Enterprise, the Scottish Arts Council and the Higher Education sector.

  • Short film schemes have an important role in developing and nurturing talent. Further development of these schemes and second film opportunities in particular should command greater priority.

  • Greater coherence at a national level is required in locations and marketing. The issues of overlap and duplication of function and effort locally and nationally in marking and location require to be addressed in discussion with the Enterprise Network and local authorities. The Scottish Executive should lead this process.

  • Transparency of lottery funding should be kept continually under review by Scottish Screen.

  • Ministers may wish to explore further a radical option to restructure existing agencies to form an agency with responsibility for the Creative Industries including screen - that would be a medium-term approach but some progress can be made on that through the joint working suggested elsewhere in this report.

  • As a first step towards a focus on the needs and potential of the creative industries and the scope for joint working between agencies, Ministers should convene a forum of the key players for debate and development of 'Creative Scotland' to give a general guide to further policy development.

  • Scottish Screen should take appropriate account of the implications of developments in technology for the future opportunities in the screen industry in Scotland. It should seek ways of identifying relevant new media opportunities in partnership with Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Arts Council which complement the objective of developing the production community. Engagement with such opportunities should not detract from its primary focus on film and cinematic media and on content creation within those media.

  • Scottish Screen should develop a convincing communications strategy.

  • As they make further appointments to the Board of Scottish Screen Ministers should keep under review its overall structure and balance.

  • Linkage at board level between other relevant agencies - the HE sector and Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Arts Council - should be considered by Scottish Ministers and by the organisations themselves.