August 12, 2008

Star’s Plea for Tax Breaks to Attract More Film-Makers


THE Hollywood actor Kevin McKidd has called for tax breaks for film-makers to encourage more movies to be made in the Highlands and Islands.

The Elgin-born star, now based in Los Angeles, was in his home town yesterday at a ceremony marking his appointment as patron of the Scottish Highlands and Islands Film Commission (SHIFC).

The actor is best known for his roles in the TV series Rome, the film Trainspotting and the romantic comedy Made of Honour, and he has just started filming a series of the US TV drama Grey's Anatomy.

He said: "There are tax breaks for film productions in countries like Ireland and they seem to work there, so I don't see why they wouldn't work in Scotland as well. Tax incentives would make it much more attractive for film companies to shoot in the Highlands and Islands.

"I have been involved in a few Scottish productions shot in other countries because it was cheaper, when I wish they could have been shot here."

McKidd said he would use his SHIFC role for to raise awareness of what the Highlands and Islands has to offer to the film and TV industry. "I will do anything I can to support the work of promoting film and television production in my home area," he said. "I want film companies to know that not only are there great places to film here, but also that there is an infrastructure of accommodation and facilities to support large film productions with crews of up to 300 people.

He went on: "If we can bring films to the Highlands and Islands, we will reap the economic benefits and there is the bonus of putting the area on the map. That's how you achieve things like the Harry Potter tourist trail in Lochaber."

Having filmed One Last Chance with fellow Scot Dougray Scott in Moray, he is keen to return to home turf to make more movies.

He said "I would love to film again in Moray. I am trying to find scripts to shoot here, maybe a new film of Macbeth."

Eric McGillivray, the SHIFC chairman, said: "Kevin may be based in Los Angeles, but he is passionate about Scotland and his home patch in particular."

The role of SHIFC is to encourage film and television-related activity by making it as simple and efficient as possible for companies from around the world to operate in the area.

As part of yesterday's ceremony, McKidd was presented with a kilt in the SHIFC tartan, which he will wear on future occasions to promote the commission.

His appointment comes as a new wave of optimism emerges for the film industry in the Highlands and Islands.

A GBP 3.2 million Viking epic, Valhalla Rising, in which Highland locations are doubling for the Canadian landscape, is being filmed and is expected to pump GBP 2.7 million into the economy.

In recent years, several high-profile films have been shot partly in the Highlands and Islands, including Stardust, The Water Horse and, more recently, Made of Honour.

In the past five years, the SHIFC has helped pump GBP 15 million into the Highlands and Islands


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