The animation sector in Scotland is recognised worldwide for the quality of its work. But it’s never been the specific focus of efforts to support development or growth — until now.
Creative Scotland recently carried out the first comprehensive review of the sector, looking at education, training, individual and company production, business development and animation events. The idea was to paint the most complete picture possible of the way the sector works, and to make suggestions for future development.
The big picture
Overall, the review shows a sector widely acclaimed for its skills and output. At the same time, it struggles to gain the size and momentum needed to support job creation and business development.
It’s difficult to put a number on the size of the workforce, because company size tends to vary according to project. Freelancers are brought in as needed, and they move to follow the work. As a rough guide, however, there are less than 40 Scottish animation companies, most employing only two or three people. About 19% of the total workforce are freelancers.
So it’s a very small sector, and it faces some fairly large challenges. But it also offers opportunities across a range of disciplines and media.
Working in animation
Animation encompasses all the creative industries. It’s most often associated with television, film-making and advertising. But it’s also a key element of other industries, like games development, visual effects, architecture, product design, medical visualisation and live performance. It’s being used more and more often, as people realise how effective visual communications can be.
That creates opportunities in a lot of different fields and across a lot of different disciplines. The sector needs writers and directors as well as artists. There’s enormous demand for producers, and for people with the business skills and savvy to help secure finance, manage intellectual property and pitch potential ideas.
Developing your skills
The majority of people working in animation across the UK are educated to graduate level in animation or a related subject. The difficulty is converting those qualifications into relevant industry experience. Very few companies have the time to take on and train someone fresh from college or university, and the skills gap this creates is widening.
There aren’t many professional development programmes in Scotland. Creative Scotland launched Animation Base Camp in July 2016, and the Scottish Film Talent Network (SFTN) runs cross-country roadshows as well as support programmes like First Feature Development.
There are also various workshops, courses, seminars, labs, development programmes and other initiatives across Europe —the STFN, Creative Scotland and British Film Institute websites are good places to find out more. There’s also more information in the ‘resources’ section of our site.
Funding and support
There are various potential funding sources available to Scottish animators. STFN offers various bursaries and support packages for professional development, first feature development and short film-making. Creative Scotland allocates funds from the Scottish Government and the National Lottery Fund.
The British Film Institute can help to support production and development, distribution and exhibition, skills and business development and more. And there’s still time to look into the Creative Europe MEDIA programme before Brexit. You may also be eligible for tax relief from the UK Government.
We’ve put together a list of various potential funding sources below. And you’ll find more information about applying for funding and finance in the resources section of our website.
If you’d like to know more
Find out more about the sector:
- Creative Scotland – Review of the Scottish Animation Sector
- Honeycomb Creative Works — developing the animation sector
- Creative Skillset — animation
Find out more about funding:
Looking for sound advice and/or a sounding board?
Contact us to organise a meeting with one of our experienced and friendly creative industry advisors.