Last month was huge for Scotland, film and me. After quite a lot of build-up and fanfare I got to see one of Scottish history’s greatest characters on screen, marching through dramatic Highland scenery, engaged in high octane battle scenes and delivering powerful speeches. No, not Justin Kurzel’s highly anticipated Macbeth; I watched Braveheart for the first time ever.
Having lived in Scotland for 15 years, I have no idea how I’ve managed to miss watching Braveheart until now but I’m glad I finally got round to it.
The opening shots of Glen Nevis and Wallace’s trek across the spectacular Mamores offer awe-inspiring images to support the themes of the film and show Scotland as a truly remarkable place to produce a film. But then much to my disappointment they filmed the rest of it in Ireland. Move over Mel.
Never mind, because I was actually lucky enough to be invited along to see the UK premiere of Macbeth in October, at the wonderful Edinburgh Festival Theatre. Directed by another Aussie, it’s a very stylized take on the much-loved and much-reproduced Shakespearean classic.
After reading the play in school and in my mind it being a contributing factor to the reason I was only awarded a C, I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it. Much to my delight, it was brilliant, the first ten minutes especially. Shot on Skye and around Torridon in winter it really reminded me of days spent in the hills, free in the wilderness and in awe of the dramatic landscape.
Whilst these films are entertaining and it’s great to see our country portrayed across the world, they are also an important contributor to our visitor economy, providing an international shop window for Scotland.
A recreation of a scene from Local Hero filmed in Pennan: Charlie Mullen, 7, and Cameron Walton, 6, from Cluny School, near Sauchen, Aberdeenshire. Picture: Simon Walton.
Recently, Scotland was voted the best cinematic destination in the world by American newspaper USA Today. It’s quite an achievement to be voted the best film destination by a country that produces the second most films per capita in the world – India produces the most. In fact, 23 Bollywood movies have been shot in Scotland in the past decade. You can find out where and promote this connection to your visitors by using the VisitScotland Bollywood toolkit.
On top of these extremely popular Bollywood films, this latest accolade clearly has something to do with the number of high profile Hollywood blockbusters produced here such as Harry Potter, James Bond, Cloud Atlas and World War Z but alsohow easy it is for visitors to access the sets where these films were shot. Film directors and visitors alike can be enjoying thousands of years of history right in the middle of the Highlands or staring in awe at the intricate ceiling of a coastal castle within a few hours of one of our international airports.
To compile and showcase the myriad films we’ve had the pleasure of hosting here, VisitScotland has this week produced Set in Scotland, A Film Fan’s Odyssey.
Available free of charge from VisitScotland Information Centres throughout the country and by download at visitscotland.com, the detailed film guidecontains more than 100 different films and television programmes either shot or set in our country.
With 40% of visitors to the UK already inspired to come here after seeing it on film or on television, we hope you can find time to sit down and have a flick through the guide to see if there’s anything that you can use to help your visitors discover the places they’ve seen on their screens.
Hopefully the guide will inspire you to create some promotions around movie locations in your area. I’m sure Bond inspired Martini nights would go down a storm, as would Harry Potter inspired treats for the kids before sending families on their way around your region to discover the sets of their favourite films.
A recreation of a scene from Skyfall: Mikey Bell (4) from Kirkcaldy at Glen Etive. Picture: James Glossop.
Why not even build some film facts into your current business? I recently went on a fantastic Glasgow Music City Tour with some incredibly knowledgeable guides to discover everything Glasgow’s long and vibrant music scene has to offer but was also intrigued to find out some fun facts about Scarlett Johansen’s time in the city filming Under the Skin.
We’ve also a whole section of our website dedicated to filming in Scotland. With location information, specific maps for regions such as the Highlands or Edinburgh and even guides for those who want to discover the land that inspired Outlander!
We can only imagine what will next be filmed in Scotland – after this month’s launch of Spectre, another Bond perhaps? Or how about one of the new Star Wars films? Whatever is filmed, we’re always going to have a long list of blockbusters here on our doorsteps. Don’t miss the opportunity to showcase these to your visitors, encouraging them to stay that bit longer and experience the cinematic wonders that have in every corner of the country.
As always tweet me @Leoandthelion for more info, questions or to discuss films in Scotland!