Small but mighty, Scotland’s geography is a huge part of its charm. From wild coastlines to sandy coves, rolling hills, dense forests and sparkling lochs (lakes), Scotland is home to some of the most stunning landscapes in the British Isles. And with a strategic location near the best of Europe and beyond, it’s the perfect location for filmmakers. Scotland, despite its small size, has many treasures crammed into its compact territory. There’s something for everyone.
What comes to mind when you think of Scotland is centuries-old castles, Scotch whisky and distilleries, tartan and the allure of the country’s mysterious lochs. Regardless of the image, Scotland’s glorious heritage and rich culture continues to capture everybody’s imagination. Although an integral part of Great Britain since 1707, Scotland has maintained a separate and distinct identity for the last 300 years.
Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, Scotland shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the south-west. In addition to the mainland, Scotland has over 790 islands including the Northern Isles and the Hebrides.
The climate of Scotland is temperate and oceanic and tends to be very changeable. Scotland is generally colder than the rest of the UK, especially in the more northerly regions. The west tends to be wetter and warmer than the cool, dry east. In Highland areas, snow is common in winter from December to March, and fog and mist may occur at any time of year.
April to September is the best time to shoot, with long daylight hours especially in the north where it stays light almost to midnight. October to February tends to be wet and cold but the light on clear days is great for shooting. The winter maximums average 6°C in the lowlands, while summer maximums average 18°C.
Scotland Film Location Permits
Scotland has an easy and streamlined permitting process. Local authorities all have dedicated film offices to get things processed efficiently and quickly. The following does apply though:
- Road closures require four weeks’ notice
- Parking units requires five days’ minimum notice
- Clearing a street of cars requires 14 days’ notice
Location permits are not required for small shoots that do not affect public movement. This includes shooting from a tripod. Permits are required for each location once you require exclusive use of public property including controlling traffic, setting up big lights or laying tracks. Shoot days in general are based on 10 hours with one hour lunch however there is room to agree longer working hours at a set fee. Overtime is paid at time and a half. After midnight overtime is charged at three times the hourly rate.
Scotland shares the same tax reliefs as the UK. Major international productions have already made frequent use of the wealth of diverse and beautiful locations that Scotland has to offer. Recent titles include Fast And Furious 6 and the critically acclaimed Under The Skin. Scotland’s major cities are also well-known by US filmmakers for their versatility, doubling as cities. For films, a tax relief of minimum UK spend threshold for qualifying films will be set at 25 per cent.
The main hisghlights of the tax relief mean that:
For films that cost up to £20 million, the Film Production Company (FPC), will be able to claim an enhanced deduction of 100 per cent with a payable cash element of 25 per cent of UK qualifying film production expenditure.
For films that cost over £20 million, the FPC will be able to claim an enhanced deduction of 80 per cent with a payable cash element of 20 per cent of UK qualifying film production expenditure.