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Do we make enough of the benefits to tourism of the film industry?

Posted on 30 December 2011 | 12:12pm

During a week in the Scottish Highlands it has rained for a good part of every day. Yet I would not hesitate for a moment to recommend this part of the world for any holiday, at any time of the year, even when the midges are biting.

I’ve got the bike with me, and have done a few decent rides, had a couple of ok runs and joined in with a few of Fiona’s very long walks. Those on twitter may have seen some of the scenery twitpix I clicked on the blackberry to try to share some of those breath-taking moments, like when a pair of ospreys suddenly appeared above us yesterday. As a big scenery fan, I can think of few parts of the world that get close to here for beauty.

One of the walks included a beach where the locals were keen to remind us that Local Hero was filmed. I vaguely remembered the film, though I think I may confuse it with Gregory’s Girl. But what was interesting was the extent to which the filming of a popular film at a particular location had embedded itself in the saleability of the place.

The thought returned on seeing this morning’s Times newspaper and a story which I suspect only appears in the Scottish edition. ‘New Hollywood film is as important for Scots as the railway, claims tourism boss.’ The film in question, called Brave, is a Disney fairytale set not far from where I am sitting. It is a Pixar movie, which I think means hi-tech cartoon, and stars the voices of Billy Connolly, Julie Walters, Emma Thompson and Robbie Coltrane.

Mike Cantlay, chairman of Visit Scotland, is very excited about it. He feels it will do better for Scottish tourism than did Braveheart, whose anti-English sentiment limited the broader marketing opportunities. The expected boost from Brave comes with tourism already Scotland’s biggest industry, employing 270,000 people. What Burns already does for Ayrshire, what Shakespeare does for Stratford – on a bigger scale than ever in the year ahead thanks to the Olympics cultural programme – new films can do for different regions of Britain.

I know times are hard, but perhaps the government needs to look once more at tax breaks for the film industry to do more of their work in Britain, one of the most culturally alive and scenically beautiful countries on earth.

Finally, if the producers of Brave need any pipers, I got a new set of pipes for Christmas, and have been practising every day.

Ps, Sky Arts have announced Feb 21 as the day they will show the film on my re-learning the pipes sufficiently well to play in the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow, as part of their First Love series.

  • Sue

    You are right and Cornwall has always done well out of Doc Martin,  Ladies of Lavender, Saving Grace, Poldark, etc etc. But places must be advised to check the script before they open their arms, as they can be forever associated with negative aspects in films. The Bradford riots were thought to have been provoked by vigilantes patrolling the streets to protect the women folk from the kerb crawlers inspired by the TV series Band of Gold, which was about prostitutes in Bradford. We are so suggestible. It always amazes me that flowers are sent to Manchester General when a Corrie character is hurt…

  • Anonymous

    Good idea I think.

    I know an area where some of the series “Game of Thrones” was filmed. I know the crew would want peace and quiet when working, but loads of people on the net wanted to find the location and come and visit. I couldn’t help think it would be nice if they could have left some sort of little sign or monument for interested people to visit, or find some way for them and the local area to jointly exploit the interest, which the fans would like too.

    Also think that tax breaks are better than subsidies, but then I would. Nice to see Alastair take a new labour approach to this.

    On that, has anyone here read Tony Blair’s autobiography and Alastair’s diaries? I’m specifically wondering if either covers what they were thinking in the 1980s during the time of Thatcher and Reagan.
    I read George Bush’s book (thanks mainly to reading a favourable review by Bill Clinton) but I think Tony Blair’s might be more interesting.

  • Anonymous

    By the way speaking of films and tv, are there any fans of “The Thick Of It” on here?

    I just got the box set, I think its brilliant! Malcolm Tucker is great, but I don’t really think he is supposed to be Alastair Campbell! I’m sure Alastair was just as tough, but can’t imagine him being the sweary cartoon character of this show. Also, whatever his detractors may say – Alastair was damn successful, moreso than Tucker.

    Peter Capaldi seems unsure, on one interview he said he avoids Alastair at parties, not out of embarassment but because he is scared he’ll really like him and then be unable to portray him so viciously.
    On another interview he says the character is based not on Alastair but on American TV execs, which I find more believeable.

    Anyway its only a comedy, love the show though, can’t wait for season 4!

  • Dave Simons

    ‘Britain, one of the most culturally alive and scenically beautiful countries on earth.’

    Yes, ten national parks in England, two in Scotland, three in Wales, plus forty nine Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, plus a lot of beautiful countryside outside both those set-aside designations – not a bad record for small islands. And let’s not forget that public access to these areas owes nothing to the Conservative Party, a fair amount to the former Liberal Party and a helluva lot to the Labour Party. It started in Parliament in 1884 with the Liberal peer, Lord Bryce, and his Access to Mountains Bill (Scotland), but footpath preservation societies and rambling clubs had a pedigree even at that date, and such organisations continue to this day. None of this can be taken for granted – during the eighteen years of Tory rule (1979 – 1997) we had Tory MPs suggesting that people should be charged for access to the countryside (even though they already subsidise it through taxation), and it can happen again if we give Team Cameron a vote of confidence at the next General Election.

  • Quinney

    We have a t least a thousand year history but where are our films on the Gunpowder Plot, Trafalgar, Brunel, to name but a few? We leave it to the yanks to rewrite our  history,oftenso we can  wrongly as in U-571 where the Americans recover the first Enigma code machine from a Nazi U-Boat ( actually before the entered the war). In the Patriot directed as in Braveheart by the anti English Gibson we are portrayed as butchers. In most Hollywood films the “baddie” is an English actor (all the Diehard villains were English).
    The King’s Speech funded by the UK Film Council (killed by Cameron and Clegg) is the biggest grossing UK film of all time,so we can get it write, but more importantly we should back UK films to promote our culture as the French do.
    The UK film industry supports many thousands of jobs and its technicians and craftsmen are widely regarded as being the best in their field by directors such as Steven Spielberg. It should be supported by tax breaks.

  • Garethheal

    We had a holiday in New Zealand several years ago (pre kids) and I was amazed at how much everyone you meet sells that place.

    Any connection to the Lord Of The Rings was enough for it to be part of a tour. Made me think back then we don’t sell our film heritage enough.

  • Roger

    Such a shame – and oh how short-sightedly-typically-Conservative – that this Government has destroyed the UK Film Council.

  • ambrosian

    I’m an enormous fan. It’s easily the best-written and best-acted comedy of my lifetime. One of many remarkable things about it is this: in real life people don’t come out with a constant stream of witty and hilarious invective but in The Thick Of It this never feels unnatural or contrived.

    Reading your comment has given me the idea of watching it for the umpteenth time as a New Year’s Eve treat, since there’s nothing worth watching on TV.

    It’s one of only a handful of genuine satires in the past 50 years, others being That Was The Week (which still packs quite a punch if you watch it now) and Spitting Image. Most so-called satire today is no such thing. Ian Hislop wouldn’t know satire if it poked him in the eye (if only somebody would!).

  • Anonymous

    Good idea! Watching the thick of it sure would beat going out to pay triple prices everywhere for longer queues, or going to a party to kiss a bunch of people and pretend I like them!

    I haven’t seen “that was the week that was” exceot snippets. Did you see David Frost’s recent documentary on satire? He covered that was the week that was, saturday night live, spitting image, yes minister, have i got news for you, jon stewart and bill maher. Not sure if he covered the thick of it come to think of it.

    I was a big fan of spitting image and yes minister, and I do like have i got news for you. I like what I’ve seen of Bill Maher, but not seen much of the others.

    But if they put a new episode of each one on at 11pm tonight, I’d definitely have to watch the thick of it.

    Tucker is the best character, the other angry scottish dude is great too, but you are right they are all great characters and actors. I think the enemy team is great too, chris addisons girlfriend, even the bit part actors like Miles Jupp.
    I must watch “In the Loop” again soon – in the thick of it with Sledgehammer and Tony Soprano guest starring, can’t beat it!

  • Ehtch

    Only got to look at how TV programmes have affected tourism at the places where Last of the Summer Wine, Heartbeat, James Herriot, etc. were filmed. Since these programmes are/were shown all over the world, they get vistors from everywhere.
    West Wales had a big boost when one of the Harry Potter films and the latest Robin Hood film was filmed there a couple of years ago. The seashell house in that Harry Potter film, built on a remote beach, attracted quite a few visitors before it was shipped away.
    Wonder what the state monetary investment to income, directly or indirectly, ratio is for movies in the UK in recent times? Must be positive, surely, one way or the other.

  • Ehtch

    WELL!  It is all coming out now, a la Thatcher eighties, bite by bite. Let of the most populous city in our brilliant country rot, said Thatcher Government in hidden from Hansen records. What a fucking cow. Love the way the Tories are trying to blame it on Dennis Howe!! Poor dab,
    Thatcher is and was a twatty, and she knows it now, but sorry dear, it is way to late loverly. A song for you, from Sheffield, Yorkshire, and if you would have had a lateral thinking mind on Britland, but there again I am dreaming what you were opposite. Margaret, without your son and daughter at xmas, sorry you deserve it, sadly – and I have umpired cricket games!
    Sheffield, followed by Liverpool,
    liverpools ace of hearts, where was cilla, involved with herself, not complaining 1981?

  • Ehtch

    Daily Mail reckons we are going to be coining it in 2050! My fucking slim arsed behind! Listen to the dirt that is the Daily Mail at your danger and peril. What the hell do they now? – they do not know a cock from a fanny when it is at home! They are male and female enuchs, if there is such a thing.

  • Ehtch

    Since it is New Years Day, Happy 2012 and all that bollocks, how about some Gerry Anderson and Joe 90 from1969?

  • Ehtch

    Alastair, the two biggest cities are going at it at hammer and tongs today, with hope, in Swansea, in rugger. Hope Gavin Henson at full back for the Cardiff Blues has a good one. I loves him I do I truely do – I love his eff-off spirit to everyone abounds,
    Available online from S4C welsh telly channel today from 18:10, just click the listing here, then click on clic, and hey-presto, see it live on computer, learning welsh with rugby,

  • ambrosian

    AC is no great fan of In The Loop, perhaps not surprisingly, but it works better than most film spin-offs from TV and it was a great idea to take Tucker out of his comfort zone. His scene in the White House with the young intern is wonderful.

    I like Have I Got News, but it’s a comedy panel show based on current affairs which is not the same thing as satire. Most of what Hislop says about politicians, especially Labour ones, is just abuse and lacks any wit or cleverness.

    The Daily Show is not satire either, at least not in the British sense because it’s not vicious enough. Inviting your targets on as guests (e.g., Obama) for cosy chats and joshing totally undermines the point of the show. Frost would never have had MacMillan on TW3 for a friendly chat.

  • Ehtch

    With Harry Potter, though I have not read the books, a cgi of an appearing forest suddenly on marros beach might be impressive. But it is up to whats ‘er name is it, can’t fucking remember her name, hic!, Rowling, J.K. Rowling, that’s it, that’s her, and her webshite, extremly hysterical if you ask me.

    A song for J.K. Rowling, just for you, cough,

    I’ll repeat myself, a song for you JK,

  • Ehtch

    OOPS! Sorrt Alastair, forgot about 2005 Lions in NZ, but Gavin has well forgotten that – he doesn’t think like that, so no worries, gavin is like that, he plays on the field and that is that. Forget Woodward and 2005, as I would tell Gavin. Watch him this evening – it should be interesting. On S4C if you can find it in Scitland telly multi-channels, as well as online from S4C live on pc/laptop.

  • Michele

    Just about anything that Armando (sp?) Ianucci touches turns to gold, he’s become quite a powerful spin doctor himself!  He seemed to burst on the scene out of the blue about 6/7yrs ago and seems to be in the credits of nearly every good funny programme on R4 – if not by appearing then in the production of it.  I prefer his productions to those of the other major string-puller Brigstocke.

  • Michele

    This report from mid’10, while starting off celebrating the Council’s demise does go on to acknowledge some parts of its work that should be allowed to survive although it doesn’t mention that its subtitling and translation services have been especially valuable for deaf audience members.

    It’s amazing that such a decision was taken at the very time that one of the BFC’s fundings was receiving awards worldwide. 
    The paranoia about any public funding is bizarre; it stems from beliefs expressed in a post elsewhere that rambles on about there being an equation between something’s worthiness only being proved by its commercial appeal to private financiers; bonkers.

  • Niamh

    Yeah i’ve read both. Campbell’s diaries solely focus on the day to day happenings and his reflections, thoughts, opinions, insights from the period July 27th 1994-August 29th 2003 when he worked for Blair. Both Thatcher and Reagan are mentioned in passing, but nothing too substantial.

    Blair’s book, when mentioning the 1980s focuses on his despair at Labour continuous election defeats and leadership changes, and on Blairs ideas on reform. Thatcher is not specifically focused on or analysed too much, rather mentioned in anecdotes. Reagan is also mentioned in passing. Blairs book is remarkable, as are Campbells diaires an extraordinary insight into Britains political life, in opposition and in power. Get them now!

  • Michele

    Don’t forget Ehtch that you’re only being given edited portions.
    Can’t stand Snatcher myself but everybody has the right to discuss the unthinkable, perhaps this was even what made Heseltine take on the responsibility that he did (which seemed at the time to come right out of the errrrm blue!). 

    I reckon that in years to come I’d be just as revolted by my own (not to mention T. May’s) utterances in reaction to the August rioters as I was when first hearing of the ’81 convos

  • Anonymous

    Does anyone follow Peter Oborne on the Telegraph? He has had a couple of good posts defending Ed Miliband on there, which I agree with, saying some stuff I’ve been saying on various sites but getting an e-kicking for, ie defending Ed’s moral and intellectual approach to policy.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t know what else Brigstocke and Ianucci are into, I will hit wikipedia in a min to find out, but I like Brigstocke on have i got news for you, and I really really like stewart lee’s comedy vehicle which I know ianucci is involved in.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you, I hadn’t appreciated the distinction between satire and the other stuff.

    As for hislop, I think he is a libdem/vince cable fan. I thought he was equally abusive of labour and tories, but for sure he is no fan of blair or brown, not sure about ed.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Niamh. You know, I think you have talked me into it! Well I was almost certainly going to get Blair’s book, but thinking of what you said and how much I enjoy following politics these days, whether it be andrew neil on tv, the thick of it, the blogs, papers etc, I think AC’s diaires would be great reading for me.

  • Ehtch

    With folklore, took my daughter to Llyn y Fan Fach to paddle in, so that she would be lucky in future love – this was many years ago now when she was fourteen – and she said to me, my brilliant daughter Siân “Why are you insisting that I do this, the water is fucking cold. I am thinking of calling the local social workers – oh bugger, no signal” she said as she clasped her mobile phone.

    But hope she realises now, oh yes, 21 in February she is. Any takers? let’s start at a dowry of a million, from you that is….

    Llyn y Fan Fach,

  • Ehtch

    Liverpool University put in a great word in on Mira from Bulgaria to stay in the UK, She is now a great lecturer in Ox-Bridge in Physics, or something like that, these days as her day job, and they let her do Ladytron. A HELL of a girl.

    A song for Mira from Ladytron, from me,

  • Ehtch

    Swans won, Villa away,
    Leeds scraped Burnley,
    Trippier tripped,
    red card shown.

    Interesting game,
    this footie,
    amateur dramatics,
    though seems becoming less.

    Gaelic footie, now that is an interesting game that should be taken up as a part-time sport, if you’ve got the lungs,
    now again I am not saying I am RA… oh flipping baby jeezuss….

  • Michele

    Yes I posted one of Stewart Lee’s videos here, Democracy from Comedy Vehicle, which really nails Cameron’s belief that he was pre-ordained to rule.

    I think my whole street must have heard me cheer the TV set a couple of weeks ago when he won the comedy stand-up award. 

  • Gilliebc

    I like to read Peter Oborne.  He wrote a very good blog/comment about Ed M’s new way of thinking regarding the way the financial system works in this country.  I mentioned it on AC’s site at the time.  Which I think was before you started commenting here reaguns.

    Ed M’s speech was only given scant and largely inaccurate coverage by most journalists, but Peter Oborne seemed to really ‘get’ it and what’s more he spelled it out so that most other people such as myself could easily understand!

    One of the things I like about Oborne is that he isn’t afraid to change his mind about people or situations in the light of new evidence.  Some people have a problem with him because of that tendency.  But I see that as a sign of strength rather than a weakness. 

  • Anonymous

    I agree with all of that.

    Yes, I noticed AC had a post on here a while back defending Ed and Oborne’s column was actually a fuller defense. I would have posted on that blog more in context but thought noone would read it.

    I know the article you refer to it was excellent as is his latest one:

    I also think this article by Charles Moore is in the same class, they both rise above day to day partisan left-right politics and talk about reality and morality:

    I’ve also recently became a fan of Deborah Orr and Jackie Ashley on the guardian for arguments that are actually backed by something unlike some of the guardian produce.

  • Anonymous

    Michele, don’t you think there is some balance to strike though, the money for film funding is money that can’t be spent on nurses, or something else.

    However if the money spent on films brings in more money than the money spent, then thats different. If that were the case no doubt we would see the figures. When we don’t get figures, I always smell a rat.

    I have a lot of sympathy with the following argument:
    “We need funding for art. (opera, poetry, whatever.)”
    “No you don’t.”
    “Yes we do.”
    “Because people like art, they need art.”
    “Well then they’ll pay for it when they go to see it.”

    Its like when David Mitchell says we should pay people to study poetry. They should study a real subject, get a job and study poetry in their own time. And this is now an argument from the LEFT! As if people want to spend an extra hour down a mine so some posh leftie can read poems!

    The private financiers you speak of are the punters buying tickets, not financial conglomerates.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah that video was brilliant! All of the comedy vehicle was, definitely looking forward to watching it through again.