He went to the other end of Britain to study film, but Simon Farmer ended up looking back to Scotland for his dissertation: filmmaking in Scotland.
And what did he find?
He found lots of films written and directed by people not from Scotland (especially B&W movies), films reflecting Scotland’s cliches of tartan, whisky and red hair, and filmmakers from Scotland who head to London and further afield to make careers.
He also found funding and training structures that favoured the nation’s established filmmakers…and not new filmmaking talent.
These researches on Scotland’s filmmaking history through the ’80s and ’90s led to his dissertation “New Questions of Scottish Cinema”.
by Simon Farmer (pubd. 2005)
This paper focuses on the recent surge of film production in Scotland. The latest trend has been to name this period of prosperity, New Scottish Cinema. The particular points of focus are the discourses surrounding film making in Scotland in the 1980’s and 1990’s, the funding and structure changes that arose…
…a national preoccupation with being both overly pessimistic about potential Scottish achievements while being ridiculously over-enthusiastic over the one off successes…
The discussion about Scottish cinema begins 43 minutes into the interview, but you’ll miss all the fun stuff if you jump straight there.
Simon’s currently the video producer and trainer at Station House Media Unit, in Aberdeen, but he’s about to take up a part-time post as a lecturer in film and TV production at Aberdeen College.
He’s from Huntly, a small town in the North East of Scotland about which he once created a web comic labeling it the place where old people come to die (!). He’s older and wiser now (aren’t you, Simon…cough).
I trawled the net for videos and websites, but he’s cleverly hoovered them all up. However, he tells me he’s updating his web presence and we can expect to see what he’s up to in the near future.
In the meantime, here’s what we spoke about in this week’s interview.
Every couple of years an article emerges in the press and online when someone speaks out about the state of filmmaking in Scotland.
The article I referred to in the podcast interview was a little older than I remembered. The article was published in the Scotsman newspaper in 2009, but you’ll have to subscribe before you can retrieve the full article.
SCOTLAND’S film development agency has been accused of wasting public money by repeatedly backing projects that have failed to materialise. Industry insiders claim that the way the funding system is geared has seen some companies receive hundreds of thousands of pounds without putting out finished films. Accounts seen by The Scotsman show that of nine companies receiving more than GBP 4.6 million in financing over the past eight years, just three have made feature films. Four were run by former Scottish Screen executives, while one is led by a current executive.
Also, check out this article (below) from the blog of Robin MacPherson, Professor of Screen Media, Director of Screen Academy Scotland and Director of the Institute for Creative Industries, Scotland.
If you look at similar sized countries across Europe, compared to our yearly handful they produce between twelve and twenty five movies annually. As a result they see box office revenues alone ranging from 40 to 200 million pounds a year just in their domestic territories and a market share as high as 25%…That said last year UK production investment actually dipped by 9% and the number of productions dropped by over a third.