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Scotland is a versatile location for filmmakers looking for varied backdrops. Rugged, pristine and atmospheric, this European country is a popular choice even for Bollywood

Scotland is well-known for its scenic beauty and wonderful landscapes among the popular filmmakers and Bollywood is no stranger to this country, as films like Kuch Kuch Hota Hai…, Tum Bin ll, Baar Baar Dekho, Dhaai Akshar Prem Ke, Mausam and more have been shot here. The recently released Amitabh Bachchan and Taapsee Pannu starrer, suspense thriller Badla was also filmed in Scotland. The country has also been picturised in the popular Harry Potter series. Scotland has been the setting for thrillers, blockbusters, comedies, romance, sci-fi, horror movies and art films for decades. Here’s why it is on top of many a filmmaker’s list.

Locations

Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, Scotland offers a wide range of beautiful landscapes, snow-capped mountains, rich historical castles and mansions, picturesque villages and a lengthy coastline. Some of the bigger and vibrant cities like Edinburgh and Glasgow present the urban as well as historic side of the country. There is no dearth of splendid locations all over these cities, which are also major production centres for filmmakers. Usually, the crew of a film unit is accommodated in these cities and then they travel to different locations from there.

Apart from these, in the outskirts of Aberdeen, a port city, you will find river valleys and huge castles to film at. The Highlands is known for unique Scottish landscapes, amazing waterfalls, mountains, castles, coastlines and scenic villages. The southern region of Scotland presents the largest forest in the country, Galloway Forest Park, which covers 770 sq km of the country side.

Climate

If the filmmaker needs to capture the hustle and bustle of the cities of Scotland, the best time to visit is during summer, i.e. from June to August, when they are at their liveliest best. But this is also when the tourist season peaks due to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August. Those who want to avoid too much public attention can visit the place in May, which is the beginning of summer and the end of spring. Also, during summers, July and August can get too warm in some areas.

The Scottish landscape is at its most beautiful during spring, i.e. March-end to May, and autumn, i.e. September to November. During spring, you will experience warmer temperatures along with snow-capped mountains. In October and November, you will get to film a blaze of autumn leaves as your backdrop. Another benefit of filming during autumn is that the crowd starts shrinking due to the onset of winter. 

To capture the snowy winter landscape, visit Scotland from December to February. However, Scotland is colder than the rest of the UK, so it can get a little difficult to shoot in these months and also many places are shut due to the biting cold.

Visa And Work Permit

Each and every member of the crew will need a business visitor visa to shoot in Scotland, which is part of the United Kingdom. For details, contact the British High Commission or VFS Global.

Costs And Location Permits

Since Scotland transacts in the pound, filming gets quite expensive for Indian filmmakers as far as the cost of locations and hiring crew is concerned. If you are looking forward to visiting locations besides Glasgow or Edinburgh, it will add to your costs, considering travelling and extra accommodation costs.

As far as location permits are concerned, it is very easy to get access to locations for shooting here. Permits are not essential for shoots that do not affect residents in any way. However, getting a permit is necessary if the makers need to use public property as their backdrop, whether the use of roads, supervising traffic or setting up lights.

A notice must be submitted four weeks earlier if roads are required to be closed

If there is a need to empty the streets, a notice should be given 14 days earlier

For the use of parking areas, a minimum five days’ notice is required

Cash Rebate And Tax Credit

Being the part of the UK, Scotland’s incentives and tax relief policies come under the British Film Commission, which is same as any other part of the UK. For receiving the cash and tax benefits, the production has to pass the cultural test or qualify as a co-production. Once the film passes the cultural test, the production can claim the cash rebate of 25 per cent and tax relief of up to 80 per cent on the qualifying expenditure occurring in the UK.

Application For Rebates And Incentives

The following details are needed:

  • If your film is qualified as a British film, then you will receive the DCMS British Film Certificate (interim/final) from the British Film Institute’s (BFI) Certification Department
  • Statutory accounts and tax return documents are required
  • The British Film Institute will get back to you in around 21 days, while the revenue and Customs departments will get back to you in around 28 days.

Expenditure

Of the total expenditure incurred in the making of the film, a minimum 10 per cent of the expense should be incurred in the UK. This includes spending in pre-production, photography, VFX, post-production, payments to actors or directors, and so on, that take place within the country. Costs like financing, entertainment, publicity, insurance, marketing, etc do not count as expenses incurred in Scotland.

Equipment

Scotland is an ATA carnet country, so filmmakers can get their own film equipment without paying any tax or duty. However, a wide range of filming equipment is available in the country itself. This includes cameras, lenses, lighting, sound kits and grips that are available on a rental basis, especially in Glasgow and the capital city of Edinburgh. Besides the big rental companies, there are smaller local providers who rent equipment. Filmmakers can also import specialised equipment from London or Manchester.

Hiring Film Crew And Talent

Professional filmmakers and crew members are easily available in cities like Glasgow and Edinburgh at flexible rates. If filmmakers are looking forward to hiring crew from outside the country, London is the most preferred place due to its proximity and easy access. Manpower is available for departments like photography, videography, director of photography, cameraman, assistant to director, light and sound operator, hair and make-up stylist, driver, etc. in the above-mentioned cities of Scotland.

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