Lack of Scottish film studio is 'disgrace' says Mad Max producer

Mad Max: Fury Road Image copyright Warner Bros.
Image caption Mr Smith who worked on Mad Max: Fury Road Scotland being able to support big blockbuster movies is an "achievable goal"

The Scottish producer of the multi-Oscar-winning film Mad Max: Fury Road has said it is a "disgrace" more progress has not been made on a national film studio for Scotland.

Iain Smith said Scotland's film industry was "under-performing" in comparison to other parts of the UK.

A plan is being considered for a studio in Cumbernauld, close to the site used by the TV series Outlander.

Proposals have also been submitted for a complex at Straiton in Midlothian.

Mr Smith, who has worked on films including Chariots of Fire, The Killing Fields, Local Hero and Cold Mountain, was executive producer on Mad Max: Fury Road.

The post-apocalyptic action movie, starring Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron, won six Oscars last Sunday - more awards than any other film during this year's ceremony.

'Achievable goal'

In an interview with BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme, he said: "I've long been an advocate for a Scottish studio, or a shooting space.

"It doesn't have to be a big Pinewood-type thing but it needs to be fit for purpose and to be built technically in a way that can be as flexible and as attractive as possible."

Asked if a Scottish film studio would be able to cope with a big movie like Mad Max, he said: "Apart from getting some location shooting for big films, Scotland doesn't yet have the skills and technical infrastructure to support a big movie in the way that we can down south.

"But I do think that is an achievable goal if a studio is built and it is designed so that it can work, for instance, with high-end television - Outlander is a very good case in point."

He added: "What we need in Scotland is to have two more of these happening simultaneously, not just one."

Creative Scotland and Scottish Enterprise have been in talks with a private developer about the Cumbernauld site since last year.

Image copyright Nick Briggs
Image caption The television series Outlander was filmed on location in Scotland

In the meantime, a second proposal - entirely privately funded - has been submitted by Pentland Studios Ltd who want to build a combined film studio and backlot on a 50-acre site at Straiton.

Midlothian Council has so far failed to give planning permission, and the company has asked the Scottish government to call it in for further inquiry.

Mr Smith said: "I think that there is political will problem, in that there seems to be a lot of demurring going on at the Scottish government, at Scottish Enterprise.

"They don't seem to be convinced that there is a business that Scotland could be a part of, which I think is very unfortunate.

"If you look at the map of Britain, Scotland is under-performing quite badly. There is a huge amount of money coming in. We have capacity pressure in the south and we need to see the nations and regions building up.

"Wales is doing very well, the Leeds/Manchester nexus is very well, Northern Ireland is doing very well, and Scotland is sort of limping along and that is a disgrace frankly.

He added: "I'm not saying the Scottish government should pay for it all but they should use their ability to fund strategically in order to enable private development to come in."

Last month Creative Scotland's director of film, Natalie Usher, said she believed a national film studio would happen and she blamed delays on the complications of working with the private sector.

You can listen to Iain Smith's full interview on Good Morning Scotland on the BBC iplayer.

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