A FORMER printing factory has taken another step towards becoming Scotland’s first film studio.
Hollywood film executives recently visited the 13.8-acre site in North Lanarkshire, believed to be the front-runner in a race to become the nation’s premier filming set-up.
The power-brokers from Los Angeles are said to be impressed with what they saw and “excited” by its potential.
Iain Smith, a renowned Scottish producer, also made the trip to Cumbernauld and said there is “room for two studios” on site.
The OKI printer plant is located close to the studios of Outlander – the TV series which has taken Scotland by storm.
The 200,000 square feet building at Wardpark Industrial Estate is in a handy location – close to the M80 with easy access to Glasgow, Edinburgh and Cumbernauld Airport.
Nothing official has been confirmed yet by Scottish Enterprise – the body set up by the Scottish Government to deliver a major, state-of-the-art film studio for Scotland – but the accessible location combined with previous use of the area for filming is working in its advantage.
Japanese firm OKI shed half of its workforce at the Cumbernauld plant in April 2013, making 175 staff redundant.
They relocated the following spring to another part of Cumbernauld, in a decision criticised by local politicians as a “serious blow” to the local economy.
Mr Smith, who produced films such as Seven Years in Tibet, Children of Men, Wanted, Cold Mountain, TV series 24 and the new Mad Max movie, believes Scotland could benefit from having the facility.
The Glasgow-born producer, who is the current Chairman of the British Film Commission (BFC), said: “I think a studio will be built, I think we will.
“There is room for two studios, as well as what is happening with Outlander in Cumbernauld.
“We have the talent here, but we need the infrastructure and the economic mechanisms to support that.
“The location of Cumbernauld is good. The producers from LA were very impressed.”
Campaigners claim that a lack of studio facilities have seen Scotland lag behind other countries, such as Northern Ireland and Wales, where cities such as Belfast are frequently used for the production of popular shows such Game of Thrones and Doctor Who.
Gillian Berrie, founder of Film City Glasgow, confirmed earlier this year that the Film City’s bid to build a studio in the Govan area of Glasgow had been rejected.
She said: “We were verbally informed that our proposal would not be taken forward – 30 minutes before Fiona Hyslop appeared before the inquiry.
“That four years of hard work, research, advocacy and consultation by Film City can been be distilled into a short ‘thanks but no thanks’ meeting, minutes before a major government inquiry, is very troubling,” she added.
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said it could not comment on the location of the proposed new private-sector development for reasons of “commercial confidentiality”.