Hooray for Holyrood! Triumph of Scots film

The Highlands and cities of Scotland are enjoying a cinematic boom, as Sarah Morrison discovers
  • @S_R_Morrison

It has exported some of the world's most successful stars and film-makers. Now Scotland is attracting record numbers of actors, directors and studios from across the globe and its streets are doubling for settings as diverse as hippie San Francisco and war-torn Philadelphia.

As the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood does its best to entice Hollywood, the number of films shot north of the border has almost doubled over the past five years as A-list performers such as Brad Pitt and Scarlett Johansson have been lured to the homeland of Gerard Butler and James McAvoy.

Glasgow Film Office has received more than 300 location inquiries since January, 20 per cent up on the previous year, which itself saw some of the largest numbers of requests ever recorded and more than £26m spent on location in Scotland.

Gillian Berrie, co-founder of Sigma Films, one of Scotland's leading film companies, said the industry was experiencing a "renaissance". For her, the Scottish landscape offers "huge versatility" for film-making: "You've got your castles and your council estates and you've got everything else as well," she added.

Last week, Scotland came a step closer to the creation of its own film studio after it was announced that £1m of public money has been found to fund it. Creative Scotland has increased its investment in all types of film by £2m since 2010.

Claire Mundell, chair of Bafta Scotland and producer at Glasgow's Synchronicity Films, partly attributed the boom to the "welcoming" nature of Scotland's cities. "We have slightly different stories to tell, and a specific culture, that can offer a bit of diversity within the worldwide market," she said. "But we are not interested in showing ourselves as a place that can only serve one type of culture. Some films just happen to be made here, big commercial films."

On the night of the Scottish Bafta's, The IoS takes a look at some of the biggest recent films shot in Scotland.

The Fast and the Furious 6

The high-thrills road-racing franchise, starring Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson and Paul Walker, has proven so popular that the sixth instalment is scheduled to hit cinema screens in 2013. Scenes have been shot this year on the streets of central Glasgow.

The Angel's Share

Ken Loach's film, made with screenwriter Paul Laverty, is leading nominations at this year's Scottish Baftas. Scenes were shot in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The Dark Knight Rises

Christopher Nolan's third Batman movie was shot partly in the Highlands, reportedly generating £1.1m for the local economy.


The sci-fi hit of the year, which marks director Ridley Scott's return to the Alien films, stars Charlize Theron and Michael Fassbender. Selected scenes were shot last year at Old Man of Storr hill on the otherworldly Isle of Skye.

Under the Skin

Scarlett Johansson stars as an alien who roams the Highlands. Filming in 2012 spread out into other parts of Scotland.

Dark Shadows

Tim Burton's horror comedy, stars Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter and charts the life of vampire Barnabas Collins. Some scenes shot on Isle of Mull.


The Bond film, the third starring Daniel Craig, was shot in Glencoe, Dalness Lodge, and Rannoch Moor.

Cloud Atlas

Oscar-winner Halle Berry was in Glasgow filming scenes for this upcoming film. The movie, based on David Mitchell's best-selling novel of 2004, weaves together six stories from different times . Glasgow doubled for 1960s San Francisco. Scenes were also shot in Edinburgh.

World War Z

About 1,200 cast and crew members were involved in the shooting of Brad Pitt's zombie film in Glasgow last year, which brought £3.33m into the local economy during its 17 days on location. The city streets were turned into the war-torn ruins of Philadelphia.

Snow White and the Huntsman

Based on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale, the film stars Twilight's Kristen Stewart and was shot in the Highlands and the Isle of Skye.