Prudes charter fears over plans to vet all film and TV shows made in Edinburgh

Council chiefs are set to consult with Edinburgh residents on the use of the city for filming movies, TV shows and documentaries – particularly around minimising disruption and creating a ‘positive legacy’ for the capital.

Wednesday, 15th September 2021, 5:30 pm

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But the leader of the Conservative opposition group at the City Chambers has warned the guidelines could be a charter for prudes which would have prevented films like Trainspotting or Fast and Furious being made in the Capital.

Tory councillor Iain Whyte said: "The big problem with making rules like this is they are very subjective and it could be down to each individual whether those rules are being followed.

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An iconic scene from Trainspotting

"It could cause a great deal of controversy and it could mean the city misses out on what are good economic opportunities.

"I think they need to review it and see if it can be made any clearer."

And he suggested they should make clear what they were trying to achieve by saying which films previously made in the city would have met the new criteria.

"Fast and Furious, which the council proclaimed as a great benefit to Edinburgh, probably wouldn't have made it - and nor woud Trainspotting.

Prudes charter: Councillor Iain Whyte

"On the one hand it's potentially a charter for opposing anything you don't like politically from the left because it's not contributing to the community.

"On the other hand it's a charter for the prudes of days gone by who would not appreciate certain films because of their nature.

"I don't know how to interpret it and I think it will create a lot of trouble for officers."

As the home of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Edinburgh is in high demand as a filming location for Hollywood blockbusters, student films on a shoe-string budget, and everything in between.

The Old Town features heavily the 2017 movie Avengers: Infinity War

The capital’s Georgian, medieval and neo-classical architecture has provided the backdrop for films such as Avengers: Endgame, Cloud Atlas, and the Da Vinci Code – and most famously Trainspotting.

The council’s culture and communities committee have agreed to consult with the public about how and when filmmakers can disrupt the city to produce their movies.

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The committee heard how consultations with stakeholders have already taken place, where ‘key principles’ for approving filming were put forward for consultation.

These include:

Application and approvals should be tailored to the scale of an event or filming and in due course will be via a digital platform that provides guidance and is publicly accessible.

Area conditions will contain additional principles and guidelines specific to that area and will be included on a publicly accessible digital platform.

Events and filming must provide net positive economic, social and community benefits.

Engagement and communication must be open and transparent, practicable and proportionate to the scale of the activity and the impact it will have, provided at the earliest opportunity and in appropriate and accessible formats.

Events and filming activity must commit to and demonstrate environmental sustainability throughout their tenure.

Filming must comply with the Code of Practice for filming, the key principles for the use of public spaces, minimises disruption to residents and maximises a positive legacy.

Events and filming must deliver beneficial social value and support a lasting positive legacy for Edinburgh.

The key principles of filming in Edinburgh will also require filmmakers to ‘demonstrate that events and filming respect and contribute to the city’s cultural identity, reputation and quality of life for residents’ and must ‘mitigate any unavoidable negative effects as far as possible’.

Following the consultation, the results and recommendations will be presented to the committee in Summer 2022.

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