Record year for film and television production in Fife

On location...Outlaw King was the highest profile production in 2018 with stars like Chris Pine shooting on location in Fife. (Pic: courtesy of Netflix)
On location...Outlaw King was the highest profile production in 2018 with stars like Chris Pine shooting on location in Fife. (Pic: courtesy of Netflix)

Two organisations are working in Fife to ensure the area’s businesses, venues and landowners benefit from TV and film productions.

And it’s certainly big business, with 2018 being a record year for production in the Kingdom and millions being pumped into the local economy.

Filming underway...for Gareth Jones which was partly filmed in Cellardyke and will be released next year. Based on real events, it tells the story of a British investigative journalist as he travels deep into the Soviet Union to uncover an international conspiracy.

Filming underway...for Gareth Jones which was partly filmed in Cellardyke and will be released next year. Based on real events, it tells the story of a British investigative journalist as he travels deep into the Soviet Union to uncover an international conspiracy.

The news has delighted FifeScreen and Filming Fife which work at opposite ends of the spectrum – the first trying to attract production companies to the area and facilitate them when they are here and the latter helping local businesses capitalise on projects filmed here.

But both are keen to see the lucrative production market continue to thrive.

Julie Craik has a dual role as project manager at FifeScreen+TayScreen.

Reporting to Fife, Perth and Kinross and Dundee councils’ economic development teams, her aim is to entice producers here.

All in a day's work...attracting productions to Fife is just part of Julie Craik's job with FifeScreen. She also helps to facilitate production crews during their time here.

All in a day's work...attracting productions to Fife is just part of Julie Craik's job with FifeScreen. She also helps to facilitate production crews during their time here.

And in 2018 she has certainly managed to achieve that, delivering £5 million in economic benefits.

A plethora of projects have been filmed in Fife – from fashion shoots to whisky adverts, TV shows to the Netflix epic, Outlaw King.

But Julie’s job is more than just selling the area to prospective producers.

She has to have her finger on the pulse of everything that is happening locally.

“That’s where the local papers come in,” she said.

“We are blessed here in Fife with fantastic local papers which keep me up to date on new developments, restaurants and hotels and potential venues.”

Julie also works hand-in-hand with private property owners, hosting an event annually every spring.

She explained: “We run it in conjunction with Filming Fife and VisitScotland.

“It’s to enable location owners to find out more about the benefits of allowing film crews to shoot at their property.

“There is a host of private estates and cottage owners in the area whose properties are of interest to film crews.

“We explain to them the benefits of allowing crews to use their property.”

Happily, though, Fife often sells itself to film and TV production companies.

Julie said: “The area has such diverse topography – it has wonderful landscapes, a beautiful coastline, ancient golf courses and a range of historic landmarks with their own stories to tell, in addition to contemporary buildings.

“As such, producers often come to me with a specific site already in mind.”

But Julie also needs to keep on top of what’s happening locally to build portfolios for scouts.

She said: “They will come to me looking for a specific backdrop in mind, particularly if it’s for a fashion shoot or advert.

“So we have a list of properties and venues which may fit the bill.

“We have to build them a portfolio, with pictures of the various options.

“And that’s where keeping on top of local news really assists us.”

In the last year alone, several fashion shoots have taken place in Fife, including one for Harper’s Bazaar.

A number of commercials have also been shot, including for Dewar’s, Black Label and Ford Focus.

Numerous TV series have popped into the Kingdom, including Ride with Norman Reedus (AMC series with The Walking Dead star), Scotland from the Sky, Britain at Low Tide, Long Lost Family and, of course, Outlander.

And the Netflix team also visited to film scenes for its epic, Outlaw King.

When the crews are here, it’s Julie’s job to make sure they have all they need.

She added: “We are on hand to facilitate them so we’ll let them know about hotels and restaurants and the like, as well as ensuring they have all that they need for the production.

“In addition, each year in Fife we also support production crews at events that are televised such as golf and motor racing.”

Filming Fife started out life as Outlander Fife with the aim of helping businesses capitalise on the popular TV series.

In January this year, it changed its name to Filming Fife as it now wants to help businesses benefit from all filming in the Kingdom.

Linn Williamson from Grill 48 in Dunfermline is chairwoman of the group.

And she is keen for more businesses in Fife to join.

She said: “With more and more filming in Fife, we wanted to tap into that lucrative market.

“It’s a business co-op which has tour companies, restaurants, hotels and shops as its members.

“We want to bring tourists into Fife to visit locations and to stay here to find out more about what we have to offer.

“A lot of businsses are now catching on to what we are doing, which is fantastic.”

Tapping into tourist market

Initially founded in 2015 to tap into the Outlander market, Filming Fife is now working to bring more tourists to the area on the back of the likes of Outlaw King and Mary, Queen of Scots, which is due for release in January.

The businesses work together to sell the whole area as a tourist destination.

Members include Clan MacKenzie Routes and Discover Dunfermline Tours. Small independent businesses are also getting on board, for example Jenny Thomson’s Courses for Cooks runs Outlander-themed classes.

All of the businesses work together to try to get tourists not only visiting Fife but staying here too.

Linn Williamson, Filming Fife chairwoman, is now keen to expand its membership.

She said: “We became an incorporated business in January which means we can apply for funding for events.

“But we’re also hoping more businesses across Fife will now join the group too. We can all benefit from filming in Fife – the more the merrier.”

For more information, email outlanderfilmingfife@gmail.com or linn@grill48.com or visit the Facebook page.

Filming Fife and VisitScotland hosted a special Outlaw King event in Dunfermline on Wednesday.

Dunfermline Abbey, which doubles as Westminster in the film, and the Abbey Church, which is home to Bruce’s tomb, played host to the film’s director David Mackenzie and producer Gillian Berrie.

Organised in association with Sigma Films and Fife Cultural Trust, attendees enjoyed a special tour of the abbey and church,

They were then treated to a screening of Outlaw King in the Carnegie Library and Gallery, followed by a Q&A with the director and producer.