The long road to a scottish film studio

We noted yesterday some of the previous attempts to sustain a film studio in Scotland and given the Scotsman’s piece today on the debate and since on Fridays part of our mission is to recover some of Scotland’s endangered film history let’s skip back a few decades in time to previous newspaper reports of Scotland’s film studio, or lack thereof:

First the thirties and one of many comparisions between Scotland and Denmark:

“Denmark and Norway maintain a steady production, and Sweden has a widely known and respected film tradition.  Scotland does have one fully equipped film studio and laboratory, capable of turning out films on a comparatively modest scale.  At their India Street studios in Glasgow, Scottish Film Productions have just completed their most ambitious production.  This is “The River Clyde” produced for the Clyde Navigation Trustees, and directed by Stanley L. Russell from a scenario by George Blake.  Perhaps the most significant aspect of the films that, apart from the film stock, it was made entirely in Scotland – financed by a Scottish institution, written by a Scottish autor, directed by a Scotsman, and completed for the screen in a Scottish laboratory.  Clearly we have the technical requirements for film-making.  Finance, production strength and a market may follow.” ‘A Stevenson travesty, Kidnapped from Hollywood’ The Scotsman 28 Jun 1938 

the forties

“AT first glance there appear to be several reasons why Scotland should have her own film industry, a prospect which formed the subject of a question by Major Lloyd to the Secretary of State for Scotland yesterday.  The picture the screen has presented of Scotland over many years has given little satisfaction to Scotsmen; their history, habits and clothes have been repeatedly travesties in films made four hundred or four thousand miles away.  … …The project abroad of a  travesty of the Scottish story is, therefore, not a mater of indifference; and in addition to the cultural aspect, the film is a valuable instrument of propaganda for a country’s commerce and industry … These are arguments in favour of good and trustworthy Scottish films; they are not necessarily arguments in favour of the establishment of a Scottish film industry.  A film industry connotes studios, equipment, technicians, distributing organisation, and hard-won experience – expensive though not unobtainable items, given sufficient capital.  On the whole, it seems unlikely that these requirements will be met in such a way as to give Scotland a fil industry in any way comparable with those of London and Hollywood. “ Editorial Article the Scotsman, 3/2/44

“Good wishes will attend the launching, with Board of Trade approval, of Scottish National Film Studios, Ltd. Which is appealing for public subscription, in gifts or loans, of £100,000 to put a Scottish film industry on the map.  The new company’s resources are enough for it to have planned already the production of three films, but it is justified in requesting solid support from the Scottish public with which to embark on more ambitious ventures while marinating the ideals which it has started. [But] the real test, and the real ambition of this venture, must ultimately be the production of full-length “story” films with which to challenge the world’s markets. ‘Scotland on the screen’, Glasgow Herald, 9 April 1946 

the 1950s...

“What he [Sir Compton Mackenize, speaking about new Albion Film Company] hoped to do, he said, was to repeat  if possible, the success of “Whisky Galore”.  If that could be done he would try to raise enough money in this country for a third production.  After that there might be film studios in Scotland for it was no use talking about Scottish films until Scotland had her own film studios.” Film Venture’s Plans – Glasgow Herald, Oct 12, 1953 

“Mr Elder, who had toured Denmark to study Danish film production, asked why Denmark had a thriving film industry while Scotland, with 1,000,000 more of a population and the advantage of the English language had not one film studio in the country. Scotland was rich in talent and colorful background for the producing of films and had made several efforts to enter the industry,  These had been individual ventures without adequate backing, said Mr Elder.  He suggested that a group of Scottish exhibitors should meet with other interested parties to form a trust, acquire modest studio premises and initiate production.  Modest feature films could be made at least as successfully in Scotland as in Denmark, he said.” ‘Scotland’s Poor Film Record – Denmark’s Example.  Glasgow Herald, 1 February 1955 

“A Scottish film studio is the only thing lacking to provide all-the-year round employment for actors in Scotland Mr Alex. McCrindle, Scottish secretary, yesterday told member of the British Actors Equity Association at a meeting in Edinburgh…The question was being considered by the Scottish committee and if nothing could be done commercially the only thing would be for them to demand that a national film studio for making feature films in Scotland should be established by the Government.”  The Glasgow Herald 8 Sep 1958

Plus ca change!

2 Responses to “The long road to a scottish film studio”

  1. 1 Ginnie Atkinson December 13, 2014 at 10:35 am

    Great piece of research. What are we like that we listen not to history.

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