Copyright 2001

[ September 2nd 2001 ]

Scottish Screen is searching for a tartan Lara Croft to rescue the country's beleaguered film industry. Quango bosses believe that the industry's future lies in finding new digital animation heroines, like the star of Tomb Raider, rather than blockbusters such as Braveheart or Trainspotting. They believe low budget films with lucrative commercial spin-offs into television and computer games will prove more successful.

Steve McIntyre, Scottish Screen's new chief executive, is to downplay the quango's role in film production. Under his predecessor, John Archer, the organisation concentrated solely on supporting film productions. But while films such as Late Night Shopping and Orphans were critically acclaimed, they were all commercial flops.

As well as supporting film productions, McIntyre wants to work with new media companies such as Digital Animations Group in Bellshill, Red Lemon in Glasgow and Vis Interactive in Dundee. "We'll be on a losing wicket as long as the criteria of the UK box office is used to judge us," he said. "Tomb Raider is an example of the kind of thing we want to get into. It's interesting that it has life as a game, as a design concept and as a feature film."

Tomb Raider started life as a product for a games console, then became a merchandising icon and is now the subject of a feature film starring Angelina Jolie. "You can't develop a film industry in isolation from that other area of work because they are increasingly locked together," said McIntyre. "Scottish Screen will support and sustain the screen industry's screen culture in Scotland. And I use the term 'screen' advisedly because it has to move away from being a film-centred organisation."

McIntyre, who was head of production at Scottish Screen under Archer before his departure in July, said the organisation had previously misjudged its role and now has to broaden its remit. He believes that Scotland's film industry is not big enough to guarantee box office success and said that hits such as Braveheart or Trainspotting come along only once every five years.

"I think we should get over the fact that we're not a single trick organisation and that there's a range of cultural and industrial services that are at the heart of what we do," he said. "Film is necessarily a high-risk business and not all of them are going to perform spectacularly in Britain."

McIntyre said that as the UK box office represents only 2% of the global market, it should not be used as a barometer of Scotland's success. Instead he wants Scotland to produce a regular supply of high quality films and short features to keep native talent employed. "One has to recognise that most Hollywood films are not massive box office successes worldwide either," he said. McIntyre said that the past six months at the quango had been "difficult".

At present it is undergoing a review by the Scottish executive. It has also been hit by charges of cronyism, as lottery awards were handed to film-makers with links to the body. In particular, 24,000 was given to a film made by John Archer's wife. Archer resigned in July after the body's board lost confidence in the direction the quango was taking and he fell out with James Lee, the board's chairman.

Despite the change of emphasis away from films, McIntyre is optimistic about Scottish movies in the coming months. He said that Lynne Ramsay's second film, Morvern Callar, is "absolutely sumptuous" while Peter Mullen's new movie Magdalene is "great". He also has high hopes for a movie version of Young Adam, an adaptation of Glasgow beat writer Alexander Trocchi's cult novel starring Ewan McGregor, and for Ken Loach's new film, Sweet Sixteen, to be shot in Greenock.

McIntyre has two other initiaves that he will launch in the coming year to boost the screen industry in Scotland. He is to meet with the Scottish executive and the Departure of Culture, Media and Sport to find a way to get lottery funds for projects before film companies have to apply for them. And next year he will launch an international marketing scheme to promote Scotland as a location for blockbusters.

Copyright (c) 2000 - 2024 is not owned or operated by CDE Entertainment Ltd.
Lara Croft and Tomb Raider are trademarks of CDE Entertainment Ltd.
Materials in this web site are trademarked and copyrighted properties of their respective owners.