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
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 doesnt
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. Perthshires
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 developers
While Irelands 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
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 Antonious 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 Antonious 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. Theres nothing wrong
with that, and Edinburghs city council
missed a big opportunity by not supporting the
original Connery initiative.
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 Antonious
Perthshire dream fails to materialise, or for
that matter, James Cosmos in the Highlands,
heres a simple suggestion. The film industry,
Scottish Screen and Glasgow City Council should
sit down for an hour, chose one of Glasgows
many vacant lots, and build Scotland a studio.