Scotland learns from epic lost to Ireland

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Scotland's film industry was revitalised by Mel Gibson's decision to film much of his epic Braveheart about Scots hero William Wallace ... in Ireland, Scottish arts minister Lord Lindsay said yesterday.

It had forced the Scots to think again about how to woo film-makers.

The minister was speaking at a news conference in Edinburgh to announce pounds 1.9m from National Lottery funds for the Scottish film industry and on the eve of the premiere of the Hollywood film Loch Ness in Inverness. He played down the importance of tax benefits which were available to film-makers by going to Ireland.

Lord Lindsay said Gibson had told him and Scottish Secretary, Michael Forsyth, that the film team spent more on the transport costs between Scotland and Ireland for the whole crew than they received from the tax break of having relocated there.

Ireland had won by offering a whole basket of measures, including use of the Irish army as extras in battle scenes, he said. It was this attitude which was now being adopted in Scotland.

"We in Scotland, I think, have learnt a lot from the fact that Braveheart moved to Ireland. In a sense it is because Braveheart moved to Ireland that we now have a film industry in Scotland which is a lot more ambitious than had Braveheart not gone to Ireland.

"It flagged up to us what is so important and it is the general perception of the country as having a minister who is really involved and wants to go out and get film-makers and keep film-makers."

He added: "The lesson learned from that episode is we must make every effort with anyone who is planning to make a film in Scotland to persuade them that this is the place to make it. Since then we have invited film- makers here. We are offering a much more co-ordinated initiative in terms of making arrangements for people who are thinking of Scotland as a location for them."