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Scotland’s film industry has been in a period of rapid growth.

Film and TV producers spent almost £53 million shooting in Scotland during 2015 – that’s a £7 million increase on the year before. And with the recent announcement of plans for a major film production facility outside Edinburgh, it’s clear that the Scottish Government believes this sector is likely to have an even more powerful impact on Scotland’s future economy.

The big picture

At the end of 2016, there were around 360 film and video companies operating in Scotland, employing around 2,800 people. 97% were registered in Scotland. Around two-thirds were sole traders or companies with zero employees, and the majority of the remainder had four employees or less. Despite its small size, Scotland is the second largest centre for UK’s film industry.

Working in film

While the film industry is fiercely competitive and can be difficult to get into, it also offers a wide range of potential roles. As well as writing, acting, directing and producing, there are a huge number of technical roles, covering everything from camera crew to catering and wardrobe designers to woodworkers. Creative Skillset’s guide to jobs in film gives an at-a-glance guide to the scope and variety of roles available.

Current skills shortages are in creative development, audio, and business management, with gaps identified in sales and marketing, software, leadership and management and general business skills. Predicted future gaps also include finance skills and the ability to develop content for multiple platforms.

Developing your skills

There are formal education courses available in film production, directing, screenwriting and other roles. Which also means there are roles for people who might be interested in teaching. If you’re considering the switch to a teaching career, you’ll need to think about any teacher training you might need.

Within the industry, BAFTA Scotland offers members a range of workshops, professional development, masterclasses and other events that provide an opportunity to expand your knowledge, experience and professional network.

The Scottish Documentary Institute specialises in training, production and distribution for documentary film makers. It offer opportunities for training and career development year-round and in a number of ways, some targeted at emerging talent and some designed for more experienced makers.

The Guiding Lights programme from Lighthouse is the UK’s leading mentoring programme for film professionals. Lasting nine months, it matches emerging professionals across the film industry with experienced mentors based on their own specific goals.

Funding and support

The Creative Skillset Film Skills Fund is the largest dedicated fund for film-specific training in the UK. It provides cash grants towards the cost of courses that develop what the industry has identified as priority skills.

Some of the programmes at the Scottish Documentary Institute include funding for specific projects — Bridging the Gap, for example, offers selected new talents a cash budget to making their ideas a reality. The Edinburgh Pitch allows independent filmmakers the opportunity to pitch for funding in a collaborative competition that runs alongside the Edinburgh Film Festival.

The British Film Institute distributes UK National Lottery funds for film, covering development, production, co-production, completion, first features and more. Its online funding finder is also a useful tool for researching the other funding sources available.

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.