Plan for £12m film school at Straiton movie studio

The film school  could attract homegrown talent such as Wallace and Gromit creator Nick Park. Picture: Colin Hattersley

The film school could attract homegrown talent such as Wallace and Gromit creator Nick Park. Picture: Colin Hattersley

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A £130 MILLION movie studio set for the Capital could nurture the stars of the future in an on-site film school.

Plans for the Pentland Studios in Straiton would transform a field on the outskirts of Edinburgh into the UK’s first purpose-built film studio – rivalling some of the world’s top sets and attracting blockbuster investment from around the globe.

And developers have revealed the site will also host a new £12m film school to seek out the directors, actors and producers of tomorrow, and keep home-grown talent in Scotland.

The proposed school, which would include two accommodation blocks and a main building, would train students in all aspects of the film and television industry, joining institutions such as England’s National Film and Television School – where Wallace and Gromit creator Nick Park and Harry Potter director David Yates are both notable alumni.

The proposals are being brought forward by ex-Ealing Studios director Jeremy Pelzer and former Warner Bros chief Jim O’Donnell.

If it goes ahead, the giant set – almost twice the size of Pinewood, where James Bond is shot – is expected to lure Hollywood blockbusters to the Capital, offering students experience of high-profile shoots.

And planners hope the new school will be leased and run by one of the city’s universities or colleges, with Mr O’Donnell insisting developers had already “started a conversation” with the institutions.

He said: “From the students’ point of view, it will offer them experience – the school will be actively affiliated with a movie studio. Scotland produces all this expertise and all these bright young things, but they end up going elsewhere. Why not keep them in Edinburgh?”

He added: “Our studio will be future-proofed. The designers have been in discussions with people like Pinewood and Warner Bros – they have people like that in mind.”

Plans for the huge studio complex are due to go to public consultation in January. The complex, which will be privately funded, will also include a 180-bedroom hotel and energy production facilities.

Kay Guerreiro, a film student and organiser of Indieburgh Film Festival, said the proposal could be a huge boost to the industry. “The quality of work here is already incredible, especially considering the lack of resources that students and filmmakers are working with.

“You see some amazing short films made with practically nothing, and where the cameras have had to be taped to chairs because the director can’t afford a tripod.

“We’ve already got several institutions in Edinburgh that are very supportive of film students, but a purpose-built school, especially one on the backlot of a movie studio, would be a huge boost for the industry.”

alistair.grant@edinburghnews.com