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Argyll film revenue takes a nose dive as a result of pandemic

Oban pontoons were just one of the Argyll locations used by film crews last year.
Oban pontoons were just one of the Argyll locations used by film crews last year.

Revenue generated by filming for TV and movies in Argyll and Bute took a nose dive last year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

While some was able to take place, it was limited to smaller unscripted TV series.

This meant the estimated local production spend in 2020 was around £310,000, compared to an expected spend of more than £1million.

Before the pandemic Argyll, with its stunning scenery, had proven very popular with film crews.

The announcement about last year’s drop in revenue comes as Netflix smash Behind her Eyes hit number one in the top 10 titles this week.

The supernatural thriller series was filmed at locations in the Cowal area in 2019.

A production by Steve Lightfoot, the series is based on the 2017 novel by Sarah Pinborough.

The Scottish scenes take advantage of the stunning backdrop at Ardkinglas Estate, Strachur House, Benmore and the Rest and Be Thankful on the A83 trunk road between Tarbet and Cairndow.

If you haven’t already seen it, look out for the Number 1 Netflix smash “Behind Her Eyes”, filmed in 2019 using Argyll…

Posted by Argyll and Bute Council on Friday, 26 February 2021

Officers of Argyll and Bute Council will give an update on the latest filming to take place in the area to the environment, development and infrastructure committee on Thursday.

A report before the committee details the way that restrictions on the industry directly impacted the number and size of productions during the course of 2020.

The authority received a total of 91 inquiries and 21 productions were filmed during the year.

Kirsty Flanagan, executive director for development and economic growth, wrote: “Compared to the 2019 estimated local production spend of just over £1m, last year’s figures are a direct reflection the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had
on the screen industries.

“It should be noted that filming was unable to take place from the end of March 2020 until August 2020, missing out on key spring/summer months which are historically the busiest time for film in Argyll and Bute.”

Productions that were able to go ahead included ITV reality show Don’t Rock the Boat where 12 celebrities attempted to row the entire length of Britain.

They started and St Ives and filmed at Port Ellen on Islay and Oban before moving onto the Highlands. In addition to the local spend generated, the council received £500 in filming fees for the use of Oban’s North Pier and pontoons.

The area also featured in Secret Scotland with Susan Calman as she explored Mount Stuart House on the Isle of Bute, learned how to make a copper axe at Kilmartin Glen and discovered the secrets of oyster cultivation on Loch Fyne. She also visited the isle of Mull where the council assisted with filming in and around Tobermory and Staffa.

My Mortgage Free home presented by Amanda Lam was filmed on and around Bute featuring a number of potential properties.

STV Pride of Scotland Awards presented a community award to the people of Bute for their role in welcoming refugee families from Syria.

This year the Scottish Government has stated that film and TV remains able to continue production under “essential work that cannot be undertaken from home,” as long as it sticks to strict guidelines.

Ms Flanagan concludes: “The screen industries continues to have the potential to not only bring production spend to the local economy but to be a catalyst for the growth of the tourism industry in Argyll and Bute.

“As part of Argyll and Bute’s economic recovery process from the coronavirus pandemic, the development and economic growth service will continue to work across council services and with key partners such as Screen Scotland and the Scottish Locations Network to ensure filming is carried out safely in the Argyll and Bute area.”

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