One fort doesn’t make a film industry

While John Grierson is reported1 to have said that ‘cinema is the one industry where one swallow could make a summer’, linking the resurgence of Scottish film-making to the building of a replica fort, as usually sensible Arts Correspondent Tim Cornwell (or a thoughtful sub) did in his Scotsman piece yesterday prompts us to dig out similarly optimistic predictions from the archives with marks out of ten for prescience:

1985 “the Scottish film industry is now a definite rival to Australia’s still fledgling industry” (from “McMafia Scotched” , Comfort and Joy Review, Mello N, Telegraph 22 Feb 1985 Score: 2/10 (Australia now produces about 30 features a year to our six)

1995″ Next year could be the year of the real revival – the long-term revival of the Scottish film industry. All it will take is the courage and vision to make it happen. Then we can get the world watching our plums and turkeys at Christmas, and reap the benefit of them every day of the year.” Alex Salmond, opinion piece, Herald, 20 Dec 1995 Score: 7/10 – The FM demonstrates another of his superpowers – 1996 was indeed the best year ever for Scottish film but sadly it has been pretty much downhill from there.

2001 “From the happy slacker movie Late Night Shopping to the contemplative beauty of One Life Stand, the fantastical animatronics of Frog to the blockbuster Mary Queen of Scots, the Scottish film industry of tomorrow promises to be a multi-faceted and celebratory cinematic experience.” Ann Donald , ‘What do you call an ex- footballer, a former trolley boy and a disillusioned stockbroker? The future of Scottish film’, Herald, 14 Jul 2001 Score: 6/10 Multi-faceted yes (from  Morven Callar to Gamerz) celebratory not-so-much – though Festival, The Flying Scotsman (in part) and The Illusionist can claim that mantle.

2003  “A MULTI-million-pound film project backed by the Hollywood star George Clooney could kick-start Scotland’s ambitions to become a global centre for film production, Frank McAveety, the culture minister, said yesterday. Hollywood boosts the Scottish film industry. Mr McAveety forecast a bright future for Scotland’s film-makers, as he announced that Clooney’s production company is to film a £19 million project in Scotland [The Jacket].” Tracey Lawson, ‘Hollywood boosts the Scottish film industry’ Scotsman, 16 Oct 2003  Score: 7/10 Not exactly rivaling New Zealand but we still manage to pull in up to £25m of location spend in good years which is just as well as local production wouldn’t keep many Swallows alive past the summer.

2005 “It has been suggested that On A Clear Day could make up to $20m at the US box office”  Major US deal sets up Scots f ilm for global success Focus Features wins US rights to independent Scottish movie that nearly wasn’t made By Aideen McLaughlin , Herald, 6 Feb 2005 Score 1/10: We could just pretend it isn’t Scottish but the presence of Peter Mullan and Billy Boyd plus an injection of cash from Scottish Screen and Glasgow Film Finance force us to adhere to my maxim ‘if you claim it going up you must claim it coming down’.  A mere $191, 033 in the US and $106,847 in the UK though they seemed to love it in New Zealand ($473,766) according to Boxoffice Mojo.

1. David Bruce (1996) Scotland The Movie, Glasgow, Scottish Film Council.

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