Jason Connery, son of Sir Sean Connery, and Robin of Huntingdon in Richard Carpenter’s Robin of Sherwood, will be head of a new film studio just outside Edinburgh. Since appearing in the popular Robin Hood TV show (which introduced Black Sails‘ Mark Ryan to American audiences), Jason Connery has appeared in over thirty TV shows and movies and directed five films. In this endeavor he is partnering with producer Bob Last. The pair previously worked together on the award-winning Tommy’s Honour, which Connery directed and Last produced.
There are over thirty film studios in the U.K., most in or near London. First Stage Studio will be the first (and currently only) film studio in Edinburgh, Scotland. Many film companies have filmed on location in Scotland (but for soundstage work they have had to return to the USA or Canada or go south to England).
Screen Scotland, which promotes film in Scotland, said it was “a major step forward in the county’s ability to take advantage of the global boom in high-end TV and film production”. Screen Scotland will invest £1m towards the initial set-up and refurbishment. A million pounds is roughly 1,290,414 in US dollars.
Jason Connery is the son of Scottish superstar Sir Sean Connery and his first wife, Australian actress Diane Cilento. He was born in London and raised in both Scotland and England.
Connery told the Edinburgh News “There is no question Scotland needs a film studio. I could not be more excited to be involved in bringing it to fruition.”
Isabel Davis, executive director of Scottish Screen, said,
“We have put £1 million into the initial refurbishment, set-up and running costs of the building to allow First Stage Studios to be promoted and marketed to the industry as a full-scale facility. The longer-term refurbishment of the building will be very much driven by the private sector.
“The significance with this studio is the ability for Edinburgh to be able to host an entire production, as opposed to just location shooting. It allows a local crew to be hired from the off, which will really increase the opportunities for Scottish talent.
“This is the most significant facility that we have found in Scotland. We see it as much more than a warehouse – it’s an incredibly robust structure.
“When we did an extensive Scottish-wide search to look for a future studio it really was a needle in the haystack in terms of a building that was ripe for conversion into a studio.”
The new site of First Stage Studio is the former Pelamis wave power plant on the docks of Leith, only three miles from the center of Edinburgh. The 160,000 sq ft First Stage Studios, which will boast up to five sound stages between 50 and 100 ft in height, will be the second biggest in Scotland after Wardpark, in Lanarkshire, where the Sony-Starz series Outlander has been made since 2013.
It has already been used by Disney/Marvel for Avengers: Infinity Wars and by Netflix for The Princess Switch, Switched Again.
Iain Smith, the Glasgow-born film producer, who currently chairs the British Film Commission, predicted that the Leith studio complex would “bring massive benefits not only to the local screen sector, but also to the wider economy further bolstering the UK studio offer.”
Smith added: “The UK’s screen industries are enjoying exceptional growth and it is crucial that Scotland continues to play its part in this by continuing to develop a world-class infrastructure, invest in skills development and provide as much studio space as will enable Scotland to compete more effectively for this valuable inward investment business.”
However, it’s important to remember after the recent Brexit decision, Scotland is seriously considering leaving the United Kingdom. Many Scots favor EU membership; it’s a major plank in the Scottish Nationalist Party’s official platform. Scotland and England have shared a monarch since Queen Elizabeth I died in 1603 and her cousin James VI of Scotland became James I of England. The two nations were not officially united until 1707. If Scotland breaks away from England, they will want their film industry to have its own studios.
Just as Tyler Perry opened his own studio in Atlanta, Georgia to have more creative control of his projects, so First Stage Studio will permit the Scottish artistic community to be more independent of American and English concerns and benefit the Edinburgh economy.