Hollywood blockbusters and major TV shows helped to generate more than £42m for Glasgow’s economy in 2021.
Glasgow Film Office has reported direct local spend of £42.4m after a record year, which saw The Flash, The Batman and Indiana Jones arrive in town.
The city has “developed a strong reputation among production companies”, a council report claims, and the one-stop shop offered through the film office is believed to be key to the success.
Filming is now under way on Batgirl, the first major production to be entirely based in the city, after the council agreed to give a £150,000 incentive to Warner Bros.
The film office has also responded to enquiries from “several large-scale feature films and high-end TV projects” seeking to shoot projects in the city this year.
Enquiries have been “spurred by Glasgow’s reputation as a film-friendly location that can easily double as a variety of other major cities,” the report, by Kevin Rush, director of regional economic growth, added.
“GFO has utilised every opportunity to build upon Glasgow’s ‘film-friendly’ reputation and the city continues to perform well in securing large-scale film and television production in a very competitive market.
“The screen sector plays an important role within Glasgow’s economic strategy and GFO looks forward to continuing work with the screen industry and helping to deliver the city’s ambitions.”
There was an “unusually low level” of local spend — £6.5m — reported in 2020, which the report claims is “likely to be underestimated” and creates a “dramatic increase” to 2021.
However, lockdown in 2020 caused delays to productions, which incurred “substantial costs”.
The report said: “When filming resumed this created a backlog of productions in the UK that required completion as soon as possible.
“Glasgow’s reputation as a film friendly centre placed it in prime position to field a number of enquiries from productions looking to complete projects quickly and avoid further costly delays.”
The report does state that hybrid working, due to the pandemic, has “severely impacted” the film office’s ability to record enquiries and it is likely some production activity over the past 22 months has been omitted.
It adds “every effort” has been made to capture the information retrospectively to give “an accurate indication of filming activity and its resultant economic impact”.
The report stated: “Even with this caveat, the figures for 2021 represent a very successful year for Glasgow.
“Summer 2021 was an exceptionally busy period for the city with two big budget US films selecting Glasgow city centre for a number of logistically complex scenes.
“The productions shot consecutively in late July and early August, fitting their schedules between planned activities for Euro 2020 and the commencement of preparations for COP26.”
Other productions shot in the city in 2021 included Tetris, Shetland, Guilt, The Control Room and Screw.
Glasgow Film Office, established in 1997, also sits on the board of the Kelvin Hall studio development, alongside partners including Screen Scotland and the Scottish Government.
The new studio, set to open in late summer 2022, will be operated by BBC Studioworks and is expected to be a “much-needed addition to Glasgow’s production infrastructure”, helping the city to compete with cities such as Manchester and Liverpool.
Councillor Ruairi Kelly, chair of Glasgow City Council’s Neighbourhoods, Housing and Public Realm Committee, said: “The remarkable figures for the film and broadcast industry in Glasgow during 2021 signify a major step forward in the sector’s activity in the city, and underline its economic importance.
“Glasgow Film Office have played a key role in this along with our events and filming team, and our ‘one-stop shop’ approach is proving a great draw for producers and location managers.
“The Kelvin Hall Film & Studio Hub was the missing link in our offering and the basing of the entire production of a major film in the city for the first time points to a successful and sustainable future for this sector in Glasgow.
“Now we need to work with partners to ensure that young people from Glasgow can study and work in the creative industries and forge successful careers right here in the city.”
By local democracy reporter Drew Sandelands