The latest gathering of the Scottish Film Summit was held at Film City in Glasgow, as part of this year’s Glasgow Film Festival. The event attracted a wide range of industry professionals from the world of film and TV in Scotland and it was apt that we should be convening in the old Govan Burgh Hall, on the banks of the River Clyde, an area once world-renowned for shipbuilding and is now making waves to be a global player in the film industry.
The event combined a series of panel sessions and networking with a special focus on training and development in Scotland. The panel sessions covered topics such as; A Film Charter for Scotland, Young People and Talent Development, Insights into Programming, Independent Distribution for Independent Films, The Future of Scottish Screenwriting and Thoughts on Incentives, Co-Productions and Film Finance.
The open format of the panel sessions allowed the audience to ask questions and to spark further discussion and debate. The variety of panelists, from established and experienced film industry figures to up-and-coming filmmakers provided an opportunity for a cross-section of society to have an inclusive and open debate on the state of the industry in Scotland. It was encouraging to hear some of the Scottish success stories, including the major film productions that have recently been produced by companies based at Film City and to learn of new development programmes and incentives such as the Scottish Film Talent Network. However it was also disheartening to realise that major Scottish production companies face the same funding issues as the smaller players, when it comes to getting projects from script to screen. It was also sad to hear that a grassroots organisation like GMAC has had it’s funding cut this year, which beggars belief at a time when the industry should be doing all it can to engage and nurture the next generation of filmmakers in this country.
After the final panel sessions, guests mingled during the networking drinks in the café, mulling over a day they’d spent dissecting and discussing the film industry in Scotland. The general consensus seemed to be that our industry has a wealth of talent, but there is a severe lack of funding and infrastructure to allow it to flourish. The saga over the location of a Scottish Film Studio is a case in point, by stagnating over a decision we have lost out on major productions to our Celtic neighbours and has probably set the industry back several years.
It’s evident that we need a drastic overhaul of the industry in Scotland if we are to develop and nurture homegrown talent and prevent a talent drain to other countries. We need a dedicated film body, backed by substantial government investment in order to fund Scottish projects and to attract major film productions to this country. The funding bodies and government must realise that we have to speculate to accumulate, the longer we dilly-dally on key decisions then the further we fall behind.
It might be auspicious that the Film Summit took place in Govan, as the Govan Burgh Arms motto, which is proudly displayed at the front entrance of Film City states ‘Nihil Sine Labore’ – nothing without work. Scotland has the workforce, the skills and talent, we also have the tenacity to be world-renowned once again, but without the infrastructure we have little chance of success.