Issue 204
July/August 2018

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Jul 16, 2018
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Scotland's Stations - Northern Books

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    Editorial Comment

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    We need a film factory – now!

    THE SUCCESS of this year's week-long pilot of a film school on Skye, which Chris Young, producer of The Inbetweeners, organized last month, underlines the bureaucratic indecision that is preventing Scotland getting its own film studios.

    Talk of setting them up has been going on for years and now MSPs on Holyrood's cultural committee have called for Scotland's screen unit to be moved out of Creative Scotland and be re-established as an independent agency.

    It is just another of many complaints against Creative Scotland, among them the financial cuts to funding the country's independent theatre groups and – as we note in From Mack to the V&A (page 10/11) – the reversal of its decision to provide funding to restore St Peter's Seminary in Cardross.

    At present, Scotland is increasingly relying on its architecture and scenery to provide exterior shots for the Outlander series, and the new Pokemon film that is using helicopters and drones to film in places such as The Devil's Pulpit in Stirlingshire, the River Affric at Cannich and Ben Nevis.

    Indeed, such is the attraction of these locations that Historic Environment Scotland has even produced a list of the ten best places to film in Scotland, most of which are castles, but which also include Skara Brae, Fort George and the abbey on Iona.

    However, alluring as the locations may be, just how crippling the lack of studios is to Scotland's film industry has been made clear by Tommy Gormley, an assistant director who has worked on Star Wars, Star Trek, Wonder Woman and Mission Impossible, among his many productions.

    "We haven't just missed the boat, we've missed an entire fleet," he says, adding, 'the fact that production in Scotland is catastrophically low compared to the UK is a disgrace.

    "There's a great misunderstanding, even in Creative Scotland and Scottish Enterprise, about what film-making involves. It's a very simple, industrial process. It has its own little factory. It needs the factory."

    If an independent film unit is established, let us hope it understands this simple message, too.

    You want chaos? You'll get it…

    THIS ISSUE of ArtWork goes to press at a time when the country literally seems to be going to pieces.

    The rather ridiculous and dated need for the BBC to maintain 'balance' has led to a bunch of crackpots – overgrown public schoolboys, most of them – getting sufficient coverage for their barmy ideas for the country to be brought almost to its knees.

    The prospect of huge swathes of industry being brought down – or departing these shores for a saner environment – is answered with the lucicrous suggestion that we will be able to do 'new trade deals' in hitherto untapped markets selling products that do not actually exist.

    Presumably the Brexiteers have highly developed plans to produce their own civil aircraft to compete with Boeing and Airbus, their own motor cars to compete with Nissan, Land Rover/Jaguar and the like. They are just waiting to unveil them.

    Most of them would struggle to run a whelk stall, so out of touch are they with the realities of business as it is. Their industrial strategy seems to be rooted in a nostalgia for empire and some distant pre-globalised world. Dream on.

    Get real, for God's sake – and as for the bunch of Tory MPs sent to Westminster from Scotland at the last election – why so silent?

    Do they dare not open their mouths, except to make fatuous promises about untold wealth from the seas, once those annoying restrictions on fish quotas imposed by Johnny Foreigner are dropped?

    Get in touch with them and ask them what exactly they are doing for us and how they are reflecting the views of the majority in Scotland who could resist Mr Johnson's promised £350m a week

    Stop this railway madness (again!)

    THERE IS only limited satisfaction to be had from being able to say 'We told you so' – but those who remember this paper's strong opposition to the privatisation of the railways and our support for the STORM campaign to STOp this Railway Madness must agree that we had a point.

    Yet again, the East Coast rail franchise has collapsed, allowing Mr Branson to continue sunning himself in the West Indies and Mr Souter to buy a few more buses without either of them being made to honour the costly promises they made in order to win the franchise.

    Once more the service will be taken back under national control. The last time this happened it proved highly successful and indeed turned a profit, all of which should prove an embarassment to the hapless minister who is tasked with running our railways.

    Like many of his colleagues, however, the present incumbent seems hopelessly out of his depth and would struggle to read a timetable – if such things still existed.

    Re-nationalise them now!

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