SCOTLAND’S Ministry of Defence sites are set to be the star attractions in a big new campaign aimed at persuading Hollywood filmmakers to use them as shooting locations.
Action blockbusters, sci-fi thrillers and even Bollywood epics are the kind of productions that experts hope will be wooed to Scotland by the various locations.
The 16 sites across Scotland are being showcased on a new website which is being targeted at some of the biggest names in the film industry.
Creative Scotland, responsible for securing new film and television productions, is helping to promote the new MoD website.
It has already helped the makers of James Bond epic Skyfall, musical Les Miserables and romantic drama Anna Karenina to find locations for key scenes.
Now it is hoped productions will be lured to military sites such as the RAF base at Lossiemouth in Moray, Cape Wrath, which is often used as a bombing range and Fort George, an 18th-century fortress in Inverness.
Other locations on offer include a remote lodge at Kinlochleven in Lochaber, surrounded by mountains and a radar station at Peterhead in Aberdeenshire.
Also available is a cross-country driving circuit at Cambusbarron in Stirlingshire and a training camp complete with its own lighthouse, at Carnoustie in Angus.
Some of the dramatic opening sequence of The Dark Knight, part of the Batman film franchise, was filmed above a military training estate at Wyvis in the Highlands.
Mark Hudson, business development manager at Landmarc Support Services , which is responsible for some 600,000 acres of MoD land around Britain, said: “You’re talking an average of £2,500 a day for a big film production to hire a site and £1,500 for a television production.
“However, if it is going to involved several weeks we will try to offer the best deal.”
There has been little filming on MoD sites in Scotland in recent years, with the exception of the first two Outpost zombie horror films, shot on an isolated training estate in Kirkcudbright.
And the BBC Scotland Sitcom Gary Tank Commander, which was filmed at a training camp at Garelochhead.
It is hoped Landmark’s marketing muscle combined with Creative Scotland’s efforts to promote the MoD sites will trigger a new wave of interest in shooting films north of the border.
The Scottish Government has pledged £2m for the build of a dedicated film studio, while Creative Scotland has ring-fenced £1m but a location has yet to be decided.
Tony Burlton, who advises the MoD on film locations and is involved with new campaign, said: “The film industry is still very London-centric for this kind of thing.
“The production companies usually want somewhere close to one of the big studios.
“That’s why somewhere like Hankley Common, one of the MoD sites in Surrey, stood in for Scotland in Skyfall.
“But there is definitely more interest from film countries in using locations in Britain at the moment, due to tax incentives and a studio would certainly make a difference, as it has done for places like Wales where Doctor Who and Casualty are now filmed.”
Brodie Pringle, Creative Scotland’s locations managers, said: “We’re very excited about having better access to hangars and bunkers so they do not lose time when there is bad weather, but there is no doubt a studio facility in Scotland would have the potential to really open up the market.”
The release of Sam Mendes’ Skyfall in 2012, which stars Daniel Craig as Ian Fleming’s 007, marked the 23rd outing for the UK’s most conspicuous secret agent. Craig is the fourth Bond to film in Scotland.
In a driving sequence filmed in the Highlands on the A82 near the striking peaks of Buachaille Etive Mor and Buachaille Etive Beag, the secret agent’s iconic Aston Martin DB5 manages to get upstaged by the stunning atmospheric scenery.