This week film producer Chris Young (pictured above, right), based for many years in Sleat, is launching a major film centre in the south of Skye that aims to emulate actor and director Robert Redford’s famous Sundance complex in Utah.
“The Sundance Institute’s feature film programme has really inspired us,” said Young in an article in this weekend’s London-based Observer newspaper.
“At their base in Utah, with the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, participants are encouraged to take creative risks and experiment.”
Young’s fortunes changed overnight in 2011 with the success of The Inbetweeners Movie, based on the popular Channel 4 sitcom that his company produces.
The film took the record for the biggest opening weekend for a comedy in British cinemas.
“It was like winning the lottery,” Young tells the Observer, “although few people had thought it would make money. “
The Young Films studio at the Fàs centre in Sabhal Mòr Ostaig is already the base for making the successful Gaelic television series Bannan and production soon starts on a major feature film about the Lockerbie disaster.
“To me, it has always been an inspiring and creative place,” he said. “We couldn’t film Bannan without the support of our local community, so while conceiving this foundation it was important that it was very much tied to Sleat and Skye.”
So, in collaboration with the Glasgow and Edinburgh film festivals and the National Film and Television School, Young is creating a residential training scheme to encourage new talent, as well as planning an annual forum for directors, writers and producers.
The new Young Film Foundation will initially offer six developing film-makers time to work on their projects under guidance and has won support from Creative Scotland.
“The pilot will offer a unique opportunity for new Scottish-based writers, directors and producers to develop their projects with experienced industry practitioners across feature film, comedy and broadcast drama,” said the organisation’s Mark Thomas in the Observer article.
Young, who was born in Edinburgh, has lived on Skye with his children and his artist wife, Julie Brook, for many years and most of his work has been based here since 2012. They also own a remote headland in West Lewis at Aird Bheag where Julie, internationally known for her unique geographical installation artworks, is presently working. They are pictured above with visitors from the Islands Book Trust earlier this summer (Jule is on the left).
Last year the Scottish culture secretary Fiona Hyslop revealed that a record £52.7m had been spent filming in Scotland in 2015. This was a £7m increase on the previous year and marked the growing use of Scottish landscapes as backdrops for large-scale productions, such as the recent hit British-American television show Outlander. The new Avengers blockbuster from Marvel Studios, Avengers: Infinity War, is thought to be the largest single production Scotland has ever seen, while director David Mackenzie is currently shooting a big budget film about Robert the Bruce for Netflix, Outlaw King, starring Chris Pine, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Florence Pugh.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon recently announced last month that the National Film and Television School is to set up a hub in Scotland.
But Young believes Skye can be both the biggest lure and a complementary facility for film-makers in Scotland. “I know people will want to come to Skye to make films and learn, and that is not just because of the new Torabhaig whisky distillery also opening nearby early next year,” he said.