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Scotland

Scotland Film & Photography Production Services

Are you a media company, brand, ad agency or production company looking for film / photography production support or shooting crew in Scotland? We have fully vetted, locally based fixers, service producers, directors, DP’s, videographers, cameramen, photographers, sound operators, production drivers, and a range of other film crew. Contact us for referrals, questions, cost estimates and references.

Want to know more about shooting in Scotland? See below for an introduction to Scotland locations, permits, when to shoot, costs, talent, crews, fringes and premiums, equipment, art department, studios, post facilities, visas and work permits, film friendly hotels, transport, communications and safety advice.

Scotland Film Locations

Scotland is known for its wild coastline, rugged mountains, rolling hills with roaming sheep, impressive castles, picturesque villages, and vibrant cities.

Edinburgh and Glasgow are the main production centres and all needs to travel from there.

Scotland has hosted productions including Trainspotting, Braveheart, The Queen, Downton Abbey, The Da Vinci Code, The Dark Knight Rises, Skyfall, World War Z, and the Harry Potter Series to name a few.

Scottish film locations of interest by region include:

Glasgow & Strathclyde

Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland. The city features regularly throughout the film Trainspotting. Beyond these gritty urban looks, Glagsow is knowns for its Victorian architecture, Glasgow Cathedral and Necropolis, the River Clyde, modern architecture, and industrial locations. Museums of note include Kelvingrove, People’s Palace, Hunterian, and the Museum of Transport. The Clydeside Distillery mixes old and new architecture. Riverside Museum is an impressive structure by Zaha Hadid. Several modern sporting venues were built or renovated for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Outside of Glasgow you can also find Newark Castle, Culzean Castle (The Wicker Man), Kelburn Castle, and Whitelee Windfarm.

Edinburgh & Lothians

Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland. It is known for Edinburgh Castle, cobblestone streets, Royal Mile, Georgian townhouses, Holyrood Abbey, Rosslyn Chapel (The Da Vinci Code), Royal Botanic Gardens, and Mary King’s Close. Edinburgh is a great alternative to shooting in London. Location fees are lower and permitting is easier. Strict historic preservation rules mean there are many old-Europe looks to choose from in Edinburgh.

Outside of Edinburgh you can find Newhailes House, Winton House, Belhaven Bay, and Tantallon Castle ruins. St. Abbs in Berwickshire doubled for Norway in Avengers: Endgame.

Aberdeen and North East

Aberdeen is a port city known for its offshore oil industry and impressive granite buildings such as Marischal College and St Machar’s Cathedral.

Outside of Aberdeen you can find Cairngorms National Park, Royal Deeside wooded river valleys, Balmoral Castle, Ballindalloch Castle, Castle Fraser, Crathes Castle, Craigievar Castle, and Dunnottar Castle which featured in Brave. Duff House is a Georgian estate house in Banff.

Tayside, Central & Fife

Central. Stirling Castle, Buchanan Castle, Falkirk Wheel, and the Kelpies.

Fife. Dunfermline is known for its abbeys, churches, palaces and parks. Fife is also where you can find the coastal town of Anstruther and St Andrews golf course.

Tayside. Dundee is a coastal city known for its regenerated waterfront, nautical museums, McManus Galleries, and V&A Design Museum. Glamis Castle is said to be the setting of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Scone Palace is another beautiful location. Doune Castle Winterfell in the pilot episode of Game of Thrones and featured in Monty Python and the Holy GrailLoch Leven featured in the film Braveheart.

This region is great for spring salmon fishing.

Highland & The Islands

The Highland region is famous for its dramatic uniquely Scottish landscapes. The area is a favourite destination for high-fashion stills shoots. The Isle of Skye has castles, rugged coastlines, Mealt Falls, Old Man of Storr, and the otherworldly Fairy Pools. Isle of Mull is known for its coastal scenery and picturesque villages. The Isle of Arran can be best described as Scotland in miniature. Glen Affric is know for its lochs, rugged mountains and native Scots pine, whisky distilleries and Mount Stuart stately home. Castles of note in this region include Castle Stalker, Inveraray Castle (Downton Abbey), Eilean Donan (Highlander), and Urquhart Castle ruins which sit on Loch Ness. Glencoe and Glen Etive featured in Skyfall. Glen Nevis featured in Braveheart. Glenfinnan Viaduct featured as the Hogwarts Express in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Inverie village is home to the Old Forge Pub. Ben Nevis is the highest point in Scotland. Loch Lomond is the largest loch in Scotland. North Coast 500 is a 516-mile scenic road around the north coast of Scotland. Cape Wrath Lighthouse is an impressive film location. Fingal’s Cave on the Isle of Staffa is an impressive film location in the Inner Hebrides. The oil rig graveyard of Cromarty Firth is a surreal sight.

The Western Isles, also known as the Outer Hebrides, offer remote islands and deserted beaches. Calanais Standing Stones are a Neolithic era structure. Hirta Island has a ghost town. Other film locations of note include St Clement’s Church in Rodel and Kisimul Castle.

Shetland is an archipelago made up of more than 100 islands, located closer to Norway than Scotland. The islands are know for their viking history, rugged coastline, sea lochs, heather-clad moorlands, and wildlife including the Shetland pony.

Orkney is an archipelago of mostly flat, green-topped islands and spectacular sea cliffs. The Old Man of Hoy is an impressive sea stack located in the Orkney archipelago. Kirkwall is the largest town. Archaeological sites of note include Maeshowe, Skara Brae, and the Tomb of the Eagles.

South Scotland

Dumfries and Galloway is known for its rocky coastline, countryside, rolling hills and friendly towns. Locations of note include Caerlaverock Castle and Drumlanrig Castle.

The Scottish Borders region is largely rural. Film locations of particular interest include Glentress Forest, Floors Castle, Hermitage Castle, Melrose Abbey, and Traquair House.

Scotland’s Ministry of Defense also offers a variety of easily controlled locations including training ranges, barracks, radar stations, warehouses, a lighthouse, off-road driver training course as well as other remote and rugged landscapes.

Scotland Film Location Permits

Scotland has an easy and streamlined permitting process. Local authorities all have dedicated film offices to get things processed efficiently and quickly. The following does apply though:

• Road closures require four weeks notice
• Parking units requires 5 days minimum notice
• Clearing a street of cars requires 14 days notice

Please contact us for location specific information.

Location permits are not required for small shoots that do no affect public movement. This includes shooting from a tripod. Permits are required for each location once you require exclusive use of public property including controlling traffic, setting up big lights or laying track.

When To Shoot?

Scotland is generally colder than the rest of the UK, especially in the more northerly regions. The west tends to be wetter and warmer than the cool, dry east. In Highland areas, snow is common in winter from December to March, and fog and mist may occur at any time of year. April to September is the best time to shoot with long daylight hours especially in the north where it stays light almost to midnight. September to March is wet and cold but is also the best time to photograph the Aurora Borealis. For monthly weather statistics please see here.

Events of interest to filmmakers and photographers include:

Highland Games events and competitions take place across Scotland from May to September.

• Burns Night Celebrations in January
• Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow in January / February
• Up Helly Aa takes place in the Shetland Islands in February.
• Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival in April / May
• The Royal Highland Show in June
• The Open Golf Championship in July
• The Cowal Highland Gathering in August
• Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in Edinburgh in August
• The Edinburgh International Festival in August is one of the largest arts festivals in the world.
• The Braemar Gathering in September
• Edinburgh Hogmanay on the 31st December

Public holidays may affect timing, availability and costs. See here for public holiday dates in Scotland.

Costs & Tax Incentives

Costs. Scotland is a relatively expensive place to shoot due to the high cost of locations, talent and crews. Scotland also trades in the Great Britain Pound. Any locations requiring travel outside of Glasgow or Edinburgh are an additional cost to filming. Our locally based fixers and service producers will negotiate deals and provide the appropriate level of production support to match every budget. See here for the current VAT rate.

Tax Incentives. Films that pass the cultural test or qualify as a co-production are eligible for 25% UK Film Tax Relief of the qualifying UK production spend. See here for more information.

Film Crew & Talent

Crews. Scotland has a small but good local pool of directors, directors of photography and stills photographers. Scotland offers a good depth of experienced key crews. Day rates are flexible and hours are negotiable. It’s possible to use a mix of union and non-union crew. All crew need to come from Glasgow or Edinburgh. There is no crew base in the north of Scotland. If you need to look further, Scotland’s close proximity to London allows easy access to those technical and creative crews.

Contact us if you are looking for a Glasgow or Edinburgh based director, DP, photographer, videographer (cameraman / camera operator), camera assistant (focus puller), sound operator, grip, gaffer, stylist, hair and makeup, PA / runner, production driver, or any other film crew in Scotland.

Talent is both union and non-union. Buyouts are possible and costs are negotiable. Usage is generally based on a basic studio fee plus a percentage based on territories. Fees are usually worked out using the UseFee website. Actors union is Equity.

Scotland is an ethnically diverse country. Scotland’s close proximity to London allows easy access to that pool of talent should you ever need to look further.

Fringes. Crews are freelancers and pay their own taxes. Long-form projects must consider payroll and holiday pay. See the British Film Commission for more information.

Premiums. Shoot days in general are based on 10 hours with 1 hour lunch however there is room to agree longer working hours at a set fee. Overtime is paid at time and a half. After midnight overtime is charged at three times the hourly rate. Bank holidays are charged at double time unless prior agreement has been reached.

Full agreements can be found here:

BECTU
APA

Scotland Film Equipment

Good depth and standard of locally available camera, grip and lighting equipment. Hire companies tend to be part of nationwide groups so it’s possible to source within any branch of their organization. There are also many smaller local providers including advanced drone systems for aerial filming. Some specialized equipment needs to be brought in from abroad. Phantom camera, Technocrane and tracking vehicle / low loader need to come from London or Manchester. For productions looking to bring in film equipment Scotland is an ATA carnet country.

Art Department, Studios, Backlots, & Post Production

Art department and set construction is of a very high standard.

Studios and backlots. BBC Scotland has a studio in Glasgow and a backlot studio in Dumbarton. There are a number of mid-size studios as well as two water tanks. For major studios Pinewood, Shepperton and Warner Brothers are in London which is a 1 hour flight or 4 hour train journey from Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Post Production facilities are available in both Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Visas & Work Permits

Generally no permits are required for short-term filming. Crews travelling on US passports can enter visa-free for stays of up to 6 months. Long-term filming needs to be run by Creative Scotland and the British Film Commission. Contact your local British High Commission for more information.

Transport & Accommodation

Transportation Infrastructure. Roads are up to expected European standards. Several international and budget airlines service flights to Scotland.

Accommodation. Contact us for recommended film friendly hotels in Glasgow and Edinburgh, Scotland. For longer stays we can also organize serviced apartments.

Final Notes

Safety. Scotland is a very safe place for foreign productions to visit. See here for more information.

Down Time. Explore the Highlands.

Projects. For an example of TV commercials, stills campaigns, online content, corporate videos, virtual reality 360 content, feature films, TV series and documentaries shot in Scotland, please see below:

Hire Scotland Production Support & Shooting Crew

If you are looking for a film or photographic production service company, line producer or fixer for your shoot in Scotland, please contact us.

If you are looking for a shooting crew for your shoot in Scotland, such as a director, DoP, photographer, videographer (cameraman / camera operator), camera assistant (focus puller), sound operator, grip, gaffer, stylist, hair and makeup, PA / runner, production driver, please contact us.

We are able to provide you with answers, references and bids quickly.