New studios help Edinburgh generate nearly £14m from film and TV productions

Michael Sheen and David Tennant have been making a new series of Good Omens in Scotland.

The sixth series of time travel fantasy Outlander, the new Downton Abbey movie, Vanessa Hudgens’ latest Princess Switch movie, a second series of Neil Forsyth’s hit crime thriller Guilt and the BBC drama A Very British Scandal were among the other productions to film scenes in and around the city during 2021.

An official report for Edinburgh City Council has revealed how the Scottish capital and surrounding areas saw a resurgence in filming last year despite the impact of Covid restrictions on the industry, with 2021 the second most lucrative year on record.

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New studio facilities in Leith and Bathgate used for the filming of The Rig, Anansi Boys and Good Omens are said to have been crucial in increasing the value of the sector to pre-pandemic levels, when the city was attracting feature films like Avengers: Infinity War, Fast & Furious 9 and Eurovision.

The number of local crew members registered with the Film Edinburgh commission has increased to 387, up 14 per cent on 2020, with 149 full-time studio jobs said to have been created in the city.

The Lost King shot for 42 days across the city, while Princess Switch 3 spent 38 days on location in and around Edinburgh. The Rig was filmed across 90 days between March and July in Leith last year.

The new report, by Film Edinburgh commissioner Rosie Ellison, states: “Film Edinburgh recorded 270 filmed productions over 693 days. There were 345 inquiries about filming, with a conversion rate of 78 per cent.

“The economic impact on the local economy from these productions was £13.9m, which was significantly higher than anticipated.

Martin Compston is one of the stars of the new Amazon supernatural thriller series The Rig, which has been filmed in Leith.

“While the number of filming inquiries and productions in 2021 remained slightly below pre-Covid levels, the economic impact was lifted to the value in previous years when the city hosted major Hollywood blockbusters.

“This is explained by the impact of having three major drama productions based for both their preparation and filming: The Lost King, which was based in the city for four months; The Rig, which was based in Leith’s FirstStage Studios for eight months and Good Omens which, while based in the Pyramids film studio in Bathgate for nine months, used Edinburgh for cast and crew accommodation, transport and other local services, as well as exterior location filming.”

Amy McNeese-Mechan, the council’s culture and communities vice-convener, said: “It’s fantastic that Edinburgh continues to attract filming projects and this report shows the breadth of work filmed throughout the year, from Hollywood feature films to commercials and documentaries.

“It is testament to the film office that the impact on our streets and residents is limited whilst the economic impact for our city is maximized.

Dougray Scott and Irvine Welsh on location during filming of the TV drama Crime.

“We welcome filming for the economic benefits, employment opportunities and on-screen promotion it brings.

“The £13.9m delivered to the local economy from recent productions is not only even higher than anticipated, but we can see that the city is reaping the benefits of our new film studio in Leith.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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