Douglas Mackinnon, director and exec producer of Amazon series Good Omens and Anansi Boys, has urged the upkeep of a “chain of productions” in Scotland, as landmark research finds the Scottish screen sector generated more than £500M ($613M) and created 10,000 jobs in 2019.
Mackinnon, who has also directed episodes of Line of Duty and Doctor Who, issued a word of warning that a “boom and bust” effect will infect Scotland’s TV and film industry unless producers keep up a pipeline of projects.
He has “confidence” that the nation’s skills base has improved greatly over the past few years and skilled execs who had initially left the country are returning to work on projects, while a wealth of training schemes are bringing the next generation through.
“We need to keep spinning plates to make sure there are a chain of productions coming into Scotland in the future, giving continuity for cast and crew,” he told The Hamden Journal. “We’ve got world class crews in Scotland that can work at the highest level and that should give everyone confidence.”
Mackinnon was speaking to The Hamden Journal on the eve of the publication of a first-of-its-kind Screen Scotland report that revealed £567M ($700M) was generated by the local screen sector in his home country in 2019, the latest year for which data is available.
During that pre-pandemic year, more than 10,000 jobs were created, the majority in development and production.
Since then, a second season of Neil Gaiman’s Terry Pratchett adaptation Good Omens has filmed alongside another Pratchett adaptation, Anansi Boys, Amazon’s The Rig, The Batman and Indiana Jones films and other unannounced shows for streamers, The Hamden Journal understands, along with numerous programs for British broadcasters.
Mackinnon said he surveyed studios all over Britain when scouting locations for the Amazon shows and Scotland “came up trumps.”
He heaped praise on Screen Scotland for “empowering people to set up studios” and having an influence on the Scottish government, which has pushed for more production.
“It is credit to Screen Scotland that when someone like me raises their hand and says ‘We’ve got big productions, can Scotland take a look at them?,’ there is enough [studio] space and it works,” he added.
Last year, the BBC and Screen Scotland renewed a partnership for £3M ($3.7M) to be pumped into Scottish TV over three years across genres.