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by james macgregor | September 21st, 2001 | contact: james@netribution.co.uk

250m Scottish Studio Plan(Mk 4.0) Unveiled For Perth

Plans have been unveiled for a 250 million film studio development for Scotland.
In the largest and most ambitious Scottish studio project to date, a vast movie village would be created in the Perthshire countryside, which could create up to 1,000 jobs.

A Scottish-led consortium of businessmen, including major players within the film industry, are said to be ready to invest in the scheme. Scottish Film Studio Partnership has said it will deliver a movie-making campus incorporating every aspect of the international film industry from a training school to the screening of premieres. The identity of the backers has not been revealed, but it is understood they include key players from the film industry.

An 800 acre site for the Gleneagles Film Studios has already been found in Aberuthven, population 368, several miles north of the world-renowned Gleneagles Hotel. Proposals include a multi-sound stage studio, silent stage facilities and the largest external water tank in Britain, an extensive back lot, private country club and luxury studio apartments for technicians and visiting cast and crew.

Luxury and Leisure

There will also be a 5-star, 300-bed hotel, an 18-hole golf course with clubhouse and academy, "Wentworth"-style homes in lakeside settings around the golf course, a film and media museum centre, leisure provision and a country park.

Scottish Film Studio Partnership spokesman, Toni Antoniou, said the project would put Scotland on the international film industry map. He said: "The idea is to provide Scotland with a unique state of the art filming facility which has the capability of handling everything from small productions to big budget movies. We should not be afraid to grasp this opportunity to put Scotland to the forefront. If it doesn’t happen now, it will never happen."

An application for planning permission is expected to be lodged with the local council by the end of the year.

There are already plans to site a Scottish film studio at Pacific Quay in Glasgow, another near Edinburgh is the plan backed by Sean Connery, and the last proposal to be unveiled is backed by James Cosmo for Inverness. Perthshire’s most famous film actor is probably Ewan McGregor, but it is not known if he is one of the "key industry players" quoted by the developer’s spokesman.

Magnet

While Ireland’s film industry has grown steadily from embryo to maturity, Scotland has debated endlessly the idea of creating dedicated film studios, but has never managed to move development from paper to bricks and mortar, seen by some as a strategic failure to invest in the industry in Scotland, whilst the record of public investment in individual films has been criticised as less than glorious

The arguments in favour of a studio are persuasive. It would be a magnet for non-Scottish film production. It would create the annual production needed to sustain Scottish craftsmen and women in work at home, instead of having to work away much of the time. It would bring key players in the world film industry to Scotland. It would provide state-of-the-art facilities for Scottish film makers.; yet proposal after proposal has failed to materialise.

Second Attempt

The latest is for a 250 million complex, including studios, a cinema, golf courses, a hotel, shops and restaurants. The brainchild of the businessman, Toni Antoniou, it is proposed for an 800-acre site several miles north-east of Gleneagles Hotel. It is Mr Antoniou’s second attempt. In 1999, he submitted a planning application for another site near Gleneagles, but it was withdrawn when surveyors discovered two large gas pipes ran under the proposed site.

Mr Antoniou’s persistence deserves praise, even if his plans could be seen as over-ambitious. Clearly, his intention, as with a failed attempt by Sir Sean Connery, to build studios outside Edinburgh, is to fund the film activity from gaining planning permission to develop major non-film activities. There’s nothing wrong with that, and Edinburgh’s city council missed a big opportunity by not supporting the original Connery initiative.

Overblown Initiatives

One reason Scotland still does not have a film studio is because many previous plans were ridiculously overblown. Losing the hype and to put the case bluntly, what Scotand needs are a few big sheds, lots of small offices and some key bits of kit for hire - preferably located near Glasgow, where most of the industry resides. If Mr Antoniou’s Perthshire dream fails to materialise, or for that matter, James Cosmo’s in the Highlands, here’s a simple suggestion. The film industry, Scottish Screen and Glasgow City Council should sit down for an hour, chose one of Glasgow’s many vacant lots, and build Scotland a studio.


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