Fiona MacKinnon is Associations and Sectors lead at VisitScotland Business Events and also starred in the award-winning independent movie, Stella, which was filmed on location in Dumfries and Galloway. We talk to her about the growth of Scotland’s film industry and how it intersects with the country’s business events landscape.
Can you tell us more about Scotland’s film industry?
Scotland now accounts for around 15 per cent of total stage space outside of London and the south east of England, and the country’s vast dramatic panoramas, rugged landscapes and grand cities have long provided a pull for international film makers. Films such as Harry Potter, James Bond (Skyfall), the 2023 Netflix movie Tetris, independent movie Stella, and the newest film in the Indiana Jones franchise, Dial of Destiny, have all been filmed in the country.
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny was shot extensively on location in Scotland. It utilised locations including Glasgow City Centre (for the 1960s New York parade scene) and the Leaderfoot viaduct just outside the Scottish Borders town of Melrose.
Why is film so important to Scotland?
I believe that film has the potential to reach far beyond its own industry. A strong film sector has the power to create jobs, attract talent and strengthen communities. Film has transformative powers, and engaging people in the creative arts can alter perceptions, expand the mind, and bring people together.
Film puts Scotland on stage and has an important role in inspiring visitors to come to the country. According to Screen Scotland, there were 656,000 overnight screen tourists in 2019 worth £64.9 million in visitor expenditure for Scottish businesses because of screen tourism activities. We are all consumers, so seeing Scotland on film also encourages organisers of business events to hold their events here, particularly those from European and long-haul destinations.
Can you tell us about Stella, the independent film you starred in recently?
Independent filmmakers continue to flourish in Scotland. They have the flexibility to explore unconventional narratives and work collaboratively with their local talent and communities. ‘Stella’ written by Jessica Fox is a Cinderella retelling which imagines Cinderella as a Jewish German refugee who works at a stately home belonging to the supporters of a fascist leader. The story is all about identity, home and love, themes as relevant today as in 1937 when the film is set.
Filmed on location in and around Scotland’s National Book Town, Wigtown, in Dumfries and Galloway, the multi-award-winning movie is available UK-wide and shines a light on promising new Scottish talent, both in front and behind the camera. The film will be a great draw to Dumfries and Galloway. The production involved so many people from the local community and it’s a fantastic example of community working together for their area.
What infrastructure is available to film makers?
There are a wide variety of studios across the country, including Leith’s FirstStage Studios (Avengers: Infinity War, The Rig, Anansi Boys), Cumbernauld’s Wardpark Film and Television Studios (Outlander), Glasgow’s Kelvin Hall (Screw) and The Pyramids in Bathgate (T2 Trainspotting). Facilities are conveniently located in and around key production hubs, with excellent access to established crew bases and supporting infrastructure.
Scotland has a large number of skilled professionals and gifted actors, directors and writers, with film courses available at most of the country’s major universities including Edinburgh Napier and The University of Glasgow, providing a constant pool of talent.
Visit Scotland’s Transformation Protocol was established to help event organisers connect with the huge variety of local Scottish partners across the country. These include Screen Scotland and Creative Scotland who are both supporters of VisitScotland Business Events, which helps drive development of all aspects of Scotland’s film and tv industry, and can assist with locating studio space, filming locations and accessing funding and strategic support.
The team at Visit Scotland Business Events have extensive knowledge and expertise and can connect you to the local creative partners you need – from museums, venues, universities, arts institutions, to artists and charities – to make your creative event or project centre stage.
For more details visit https://businessevents.visitscotland.com/
For other films set in Scotland visit: https://www.visitscotland.com/ebrochures/en/set-in-scotland.pdf