In a significant development for Scotland’s Screen sector, Screen Scotland today announced that First Stage Studios Ltd, led by Oscar-nominated and BAFTA winning film and television producer Bob Last and actor and director Jason Connery, has been appointed to run a large-scale film and TV studio space in Edinburgh’s Port of Leith.
First Stage Studios Ltd will work to create an internationally competitive production facility. This is a major step forward in Scotland’s ability to take advantage of the global boom in high-end TV and film production.
The studio space in Edinburgh has already hosted major international productions, including Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War. Its scale complements the range of studio facilities and flexible build spaces available across the country. It will benefit both the indigenous sector and Scotland’s ability to attract high value international productions that work with the local sector.
Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Fair Work and Culture, said: “This announcement represents a great step forward in Scotland’s ambition to drive growth across all aspects of the film and TV sector.
“Having a studio of this scale will provide a home in Scotland for film and high-end TV productions, generate significant revenue for Scotland’s wider economy and support sustainable careers across the film and TV industry from writers, producers and directors to those working in craft and technical areas.”
Screen Scotland’s Executive Director Isabel Davis commented: “The studio is key in expanding film and TV production in Scotland. We’re delighted to be working with First Stage Studios to bring it to life. Bob and Jason bring a wealth of expertise and industry knowledge that is invaluable to the development of the studio.
“Scotland is internationally renowned for its world-class talent, crews, facilities and breath-taking locations, this facility means we can raise the visibility of Scotland on screen, anchor more film and high-end television productions in Scotland and capitalise on the global boom in the industry.”
Bob Last of First Stage Studios Ltd commented: "We look forward to building on the strong interest already expressed by international and UK customers. We are grateful to Screen Scotland for their commitment to an ambitious film and television sector and look forward to contributing to its development."
Jason Connery of First Stage Studios commented: “There is no question Scotland needs a film studio, I could not be more excited to be involved in bringing it to fruition.”
Image: Bob Last and Jason Connery, Image credit: Steward Attwood
Iain Smith, Producer and Chair of the British Film Commission said: “I am delighted by today’s news of this appointment of a Scottish company to run this major studio facility in the heart of Edinburgh. It will bring massive benefits not only to the local screen sector, but also to the wider economy further bolstering the UK studio offer. 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.”
Cllr Adam McVey, City of Edinburgh Council Leader commented: “This is a very exciting boost for the creative industries in the capital and the Council is delighted to have been involved in this project throughout. With strong links to the film industry already – which is testament to the efforts of Film Edinburgh, our city’s film-friendly approach and annual international film festival – it’s fantastic that First Stage Studios Ltd will be running an internationally competitive studio in Leith. There will be even more benefits to the City when large scale filming takes place, bringing great economic benefits to Leith and our whole City.”
Stuart Wallace, Chief Operating Officer, Forth Ports said: “Everyone at Forth Ports is thrilled to be welcoming First Stage Studios to the Port of Leith. This is great news for Scotland’s film industry and for Scottish film buffs. Our ‘blue shed’ has proved popular with the creative industry in the past with Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War using Leith as a studio space for their film production. We look forward to working with First Stage Studios and we wish them every success with this.”
Notes to editors
- Following an open tender process assessed by a panel of screen sector experts and professional advisors, Screen Scotland has appointed First Stage Studios Ltd to operate the studio business in Edinburgh and facilitated the lease of the property from Forth Ports for up to 25 years.
- First Stage Studios Ltd will now manage, operate and promote the Studio facility to UK and International customers progressing the development of sound stages and production offices, responding to market forces and client demand.
- Screen Scotland will invest £1m towards the initial set up, refurbishment and running costs. This investment is part of planned commitment from Screen Scotland’s infrastructure budget. Private sector investment is planned as the studio facility develops.
- Film and high-end television production spend in the UK last year was over £3.6 billion, an increase of 16% on the previous year. This is the highest year on record, showing the UK to be the world’s busiest production hub.
- First Stage Studios Ltd. is run by Bob Last and Jason Connery.
Bob Last is a successful producer of Oscar nominated and BAFTA winning film and television including Terence Davies’ acclaimed Sunset Song and Oscar Nominee The Illusionist (2010) both of which are in Indiewire’s top 100 films of the decade and most recently his animation team in Leith worked on Klaus BAFTA Best Animated Featured Film (2020).
Last recorded Johnny Depp’s gypsy band for the film Chocolat in Leith and in addition to his work in film and television, he has produced award winning animated commercials. He has previously worked in music, theatre and visual art.
Bob Last has a long-standing record of contribution to public service in Scotland including Co-chairing the Creative Industries Advisory Group Chair, Edinburgh International Film festival and Edinburgh Filmhouse (2012-2015); Chair, Cultural Enterprise Office (2002-2013).
Jason Connery has a lifetime of experience in film and television that began before he could even walk with family visits to film sets and studios. Connery is an actor, producer and director. He has starred in over 80 feature films, television movies and series including as Robin Hood in the iconic 80’s television series.
In 2008, Connery threw himself into making short film when he established Short Mondaysin LA - a platform for short film. Connery went on to direct feature films including Pandemicand The Philly Kid, released by Warner Brothers in 2012. In 2015, having moved back to Scotland, Connery teamed up with Bob Last and shot Tommy’s Honour starring Peter Mullan, Jack Lowden, Ophelia Lovibond and Sam Neill in Scotland. Tommy’s Honour went on to open the Edinburgh International Film Festival in 2016 and won the Scottish BAFTA for best film.
Connery has given Master Classes on Low Budget Film Making and over the last five years been touring the United States teaching acting.
- First Stage Studios is situated on a private gated 8.6acre site and is leased from Forth Ports Limited on a 25-year lease. Offering industry standard dimensions, the plans include adaptable interior shooting options across 160,000 sq ft and the potential for 5 sound stages of between 50ft and 100ft in height. In addition, the plot has 27,000 sq ft of flexible production and office space; ample backlot provision allowing for significant production set-builds and ample crew, tech and unit base parking.
- First Stage Studio development complements the range of studio infrastructure currently available across Scotland. For details please visit: Studio and Build Space.
- Screen Scotland is the dedicated partnership for screen in Scotland. Sitting within Creative Scotland, it is a partnership with Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Funding Council, working in close collaboration with the sector to ensure its success. With funding from Scottish Government and the National Lottery, Screen Scotland is driving the cultural, social and economic development of all aspects of the sector in Scotland, through enhanced funding, services and support.
- The establishment of the Screen Scotland partnership in 2018, with increased resources and a shared strategic vision, means Scotland is in a strong position to support the country’s film and tv sector to fulfil its potential, and to create a highly attractive environment for indigenous and incoming creative companies and productions.
Media Relations and PR Officer- Screen