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Cannes International Film Festival

Glasgow Film Office took part in the annual promotion of Scotland as a filming location this year, with a member of staff taking their place on the Scotland stand in the UK Pavilion.  The UK Pavilion is, without doubt, one of the busiest locations in the International Village.  Some might say because of the free internet access, or because of the cheerful staff, but I’d like to think that the Scotland stand, and its supply of free Walkers shortbread, was the overwhelming attraction. 

Scotland is the only region to have a stand in the UK Pavilion, standing alongside the BFI and UK Film Council.  On one hand, it gives unparalleled distinction to Scotland over say Northern Ireland, Wales or any of the English regions, but it also can lead to slight confusion with some enquirers who were under the assumption that Scotland would offer alternative or additional tax breaks to the rest of the UK. 

Of course, the prominent position just inside the door allowed us to speak with practically everybody who entered the pavilion – ample opportunity to sell Scotland as a filming location – but it also lead to the belief that our stand was the information desk.  Nevertheless, it is a valuable vantage point and allowed for easy distribution of information and promotional materials.

A lot of queries fielded at the stand were for projects based in Scotland, that is, scripts specifically written with Scotland in mind.  However, the questions inevitably turned to funding.  The UK, as a whole is benefiting from the weakness of sterling, and UK tax breaks are also an attraction to outside producers.  The money available from Scottish Screen was helpful as an added incentive when talking about funding to enquirers and provided a complement to Scottish locations.  Scotland’s strength in terms of locations has always been its stunning geography and architecture; but, more and more, enquirers are asking questions about crew, production services and post production facilities.  We may not have alternative tax breaks to the rest of the UK, but we do have a substantial experienced crew base and a burgeoning post production sector which are indispensable selling points.

The projects which were discussed as potential shoots for Scotland varied greatly from documentary to high budget features, all styles and budgets, from production companies in many different countries.  It is reassuring to see that Scotland has not been pigeonholed as a location to make a particular type of film.  The Scottish Locations Network works hard to demonstrate that Scotland is a viable production base, capable of hosting any type of production.  Also, the strong showing of Scottish companies out in Cannes shows that there is a host of co-production partners available.  Moreover, there were numerous enquiries from film festival representatives looking specifically for films from emerging Scottish talent.

All in all, Cannes was incredibly busy at the Scotland stand.  A lot of promising potential projects and some very good contacts made. 

Jennifer Reynolds, Glasgow Film Office.  May 2009

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