THE other day I met someone who works in the film business. “What about this studio in Straiton”? I asked. Eyes were rolled and a sigh emitted at the very thought.
It appears that this is all being held up by Midlothian Council planning department. Surprisingly, it isn’t about filthy lucre – the people behind the project don’t want a bean from public money. They have plenty themselves and a very sensible business plan which includes various other ideas which will keep the dosh rolling in even when the actual studios are not being used.
No, it seems that Midlothian Council couldn’t come to a decision on the planning application for aesthetic reasons. For crying out loud – have any of them been to Straiton recently? It is a miasma of huge, hideously-coloured buildings – there’s IKEA, Asda, Sainsburys and Costco. Great if you want to do some major shopping, but if you want to gaze at lush rolling hills or look upon bucolic scenes then this isn’t the place to head. A few miles south and you might find some nice countryside.
Hasn’t anyone who makes a decision in Scotland not learned from Game of Thrones? The pilot for the most successful British series ever (at least up near the top anyway) was filmed in our country. Then the producers went to Creative Scotland to ask for help with funding for a studio. They were told to sling their hook, so indeed they did by taking a ferry to Northern Ireland and splashing their cash in the Emerald Isle. The folk in the Irish tourism industry have been rubbing their hands in glee ever since.
So, here’s my advice. Stop faffing about and just give them the green light. Let’s try and have something glamorous on our doorstep which will bring in money and create jobs. In fact my son would love to work in the film industry – with his sense of direction it would be a lot easier to get a bus to the south of Edinburgh than attempt to work out how to get to Los Angeles.