The future of Scottish film post-independence

Written by IanRClose

The Scottish government has come under criticism from filmma

The Scottish government has come under criticism from filmmakers over its lack of funding to the industry. In a letter to Creative Scotland, the Independent Producers Scotland (IPS) group claimed £3 million is a pitiful amount of funding to the Scottish film industry in comparison to other UK nations.


The Northern Irish government currently provides £13 million of funding to the visual arts and the Welsh provide three times as much money as the Scottish government.


According to a statement from Fiona Hyslop (the current Scottish government minister for culture), the current SNP administration do not feel any further funding is necessary due to the current subsidy provided by the British government.

Could Holyrood support a Scottish Hollywood?

All film expenses incurred within the UK are partially covered by the tax-payer depending on the cost of the film. Any production which costs less than £20 million can request a cash rebate of 25% and any films costing over the threshold can still claim up to 20% of expenses.

But with the upcoming referendum on Scottish independence, should the government in Holyrood start considering how they are going to fund the film industry when the British tax subsidy is no longer available?

The national film sector review released by Creative Scotland in November 2013 revealed the film industry as a key player in national culture and as a large contributor to the economy. With over 17 million cinema attendances in 2013, the film industry has contributed over £120 million to the Scottish economy. Despite this, over 50% of Scots believe there are too few films set in the country, with an average of only 6 locally produced films per year.

The British Film Institute claims an increase of funding could result in Scotland being the second largest film producer in Europe behind England.

Film is “so much more”

Hyslop’s office was not able to comment on how much funding the government would provide after independence. However, in a statement, the National Collective, a group of people in the creative industries who support independence, feel that financial incentives aren’t important in encouraging filmmakers to produce in the country.

“Scotland has so much more to offer than a tax subsidy, which is why it has the largest film industry in the UK outside of London,” the statement read. “Film companies care more about the talented individuals and inspiring locations than they do about government funding. World War Z was only possible because of huge co-operation from Glasgow City Council and that type of reputation echoes throughout the creative industries.”

The IPS (which consists of film producers from all over Scotland, including the producers of Sunshine On Leith and Perfect Sense, which premiered at Sundance 2011) do not, however, believe an independent Scotland would be able to provide for the film industry.

“In other countries film producers are able to make a living out of film however in Scotland production companies are struggling in a financial crisis. The lack of funding is killing the industry.

“Film needs to be supported by the government in both the cultural and financial sector; otherwise it won’t be able to flourish.”

It has been argued, however, that as an independent Scotland would have more powers over broadcasting, they would naturally be able to increase the budget provided to all visual arts.

In other European countries with similar populations to Scotland, funding to the film industry is considerably larger. Denmark provide £52 million, while Norway and Sweden provide £21 million and £36 million respectively.

Janet Archer, the chief executive of Creative Scotland, believes that Scotland would most likely increase funding under independence and according to a report by the published by the SNP administration in February 2014.

“Independence will provide new opportunities to build on Scotland’s existing creative prowess by harnessing new powers to develop our culture, heritage and creative industries,” Archer said. “This means we can move forward with a clear ambition to deliver: a new approach to broadcasting which will increase production opportunities in Scotland through a new Scottish Broadcasting Service; new powers over the economy to encourage our culture and creative sectors; and increased opportunities to build our international reputation for culture, heritage and creativity.”

While this may seem promising to budding filmmakers and creative forces in Scotland, it is clear there is still much to be done to improve the standards of the industry within our borders and with more popular policies such as universal tertiary education and abolished prescription charges already taking up a huge chunk of Scottish government spending, it seems increasingly likely that cultural issues will be placed on the backburner.


Despite this, Scottish culture is doing much to advance the desire for independence and may very well flourish under an independent state.


What do you think? What is the future of film and culture in Scotland should there be a yes vote on independence? Have your say in the comments section below.