This section covers Film City, Wardpark, Pentland, Studio City, FirstStage Studios, PSL Saltersgate, Kelvin Hall, Pyramids Studios, Pioneer Film Studios, Caledonian Film Studios and Stirling Film Studios.




Film City – Glasgow (2004 – present)


The creation of Film City was driven by Gillian Berrie, co-founder of Sigma Films.  She was inspired by a visit to another ‘Film City’ in Denmark in 2000 whilst being fully aware of the demand for a similar base for independent Scottish film and TV companies.  Govan Town Hall had been used for location filming several times before but when she worked there she realised that it was the perfect spot to take over as a permanent base for the local industry.  £3.5m was raised from various sources to refurbish the building and provide it with the necessary facilities.  It opened in phases from 2004.

The building contains a Dolby post production theatre plus a Foley stage, ADR suite, dubbing theatres and 9 edit suites.  There are also picture grading suites.

Currently, the old Victorian building provides office, meeting room and the post production facilities mentioned above but it also has the original 5,000 sq ft performance hall complete with audience seating on a balcony.  This is described by Film City as a ‘build space’.  There is sufficient flat floored area in front of the seating to construct reasonably large sets with ground-support truss for lighting but it could not be described as a typical sound stage.  There is no acoustic treatment on the walls for example.  These facilities have been used for School of Silence (CBBC), Iron Chef UK (C4) and T4’s Transmission amongst others.


film city studio 450p
Above is the build space being used for a simple shoot.
film city hall 450p
Above shows the attractive décor and the size of the room and its useful, though seldom used, audience seating.
photo thanks to


In May 2013 it was announced that Creative Scotland had ring-fenced £1m for further development.  The intention was to redevelop some existing buildings close to the Film City HQ in Govan Town Hall and create 15,000 sq ft of production space.  There was also the prospect of two purpose-built stages, at least one of them around 20,000 sq ft, being built on open land between Film City and the BBC’s studios.  £10m funding was sought from various partnership sources.  Unfortunately, no development has so far been forthcoming.

film city new stage site 450p
The land that for a while was possibly to become the the site of new film stages.  Govan Town Hall – ‘Film City’ – is in the background.  It is a short walk from the BBC’s studios – I took this photo during a break whilst working there.





Wardpark Studios, Cumbernaul(2013 – present)

wardpark studios aerial 450p
The former Isola factory that is now Wardpark Studios


For more than a decade there has been much discussion about the provision of large studio space in Scotland.  They have seen TV series like Game of Thrones being made in Northern Ireland and many dramas being filmed in Wales and would quite rightly like some of that kind of work too.  Some ex-industrial properties have been used on occasion for filming – most notably the international TV drama Outlander that was filmed in Wardpark Studios in Cumbernauld from 2013 – 2023.   This former Isola factory offers 65,000 sq ft of facilities.

In March 2016 the studios announced that they were working with the Film Studio Delivery Group (comprising Creative Scotland, Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish government) to secure funding to enable the studios to expand.  Planning permission for 2 new stages totalling 30,000 sq ft was submitted but these were not built.

In November 2017 it was announced that the studios would be expanding in 2018.  They acquired two industrial blocks adjacent to the ‘planned new stage.’  So, in fact only one new stage of a modest 5,000 sq ft was built.  The industrial units were converted for use as support facilities such as workshops, production offices, prop storage etc.


As of February 2024 the studios offered the following:

5 sound stages of 13,000 sq ft, 12,000 sq ft, 11,500 sq ft, 11,500 sq ft and 5,000 sq ft.  There are also workshops, cutting rooms, wardrobe/make-up facilities and production offices.


A fourth season of Outlander began filming in the autumn of 2017 and a fifth season was made in 2019.  Season 6 commenced filming on 7th January 2021, despite the limitations of working under Covid conditions.  16 episodes of season 7 wrapped in February 2023.  In January 2023 Starz confirmed that there would be an eighth season of 10 episodes, which was to be the last.

In November 2021 the press reported that Wardpark had been taken over by US investors Hackman Capital Partners and Square Mile Capital Management.  They also own MBS – the company that hires lighting and other equipment and manages film studios worldwide.  The same combination of Hackman Capital Partners and MBS are building and operating the new Eastbrook Studios in Dagenham and the Apple Studios near Aylesbury.  No development plans have yet been confirmed but they are said to be looking at the potential for expansion.  This is very good news for the future viability of these studios, especially with the filming of Outlander coming to a close.




Between 2010 and 2020 the Scottish government and its agencies produced many reports on the necessity for more TV drama/film-making facilities in Scotland to build on the success of the UK film industry.  Sadly, very little actually happened.  Meanwhile in Wales, Northern Ireland, Bristol and Manchester they just got on with it.  Not to mention the brand new stages at Leavesden Shepperton and Pinewood and announcements about dozens of new stages being planned in Belfast, Liverpool, Elstree, Ashford, Dagenham, Shinfield, Bray etc.

Meanwhile, in 2014 a developer came up with a proposal just outside Edinburgh that seemed ideal…




Pentland Studios – Straiton, near Edinburgh  (project abandoned)


Whilst the great and good were having important meetings and writing reports about the future of film making in Scotland, in August 2014 a developer (PSLL) announced an actual plan.  This was very ambitious and would provide the facilities that Scotland desperately needs.  It consisted of a group of stages, workshops and support facilities to be built in phases as part of a much larger development containing housing, retail, a hotel, business park and power station.  These studios were intended for features and high-end TV dramas which could also of course make use of Scotland’s spectacular scenery for location shooting, only a short drive from here.

The plans included two 15,000 sq ft ‘studios’ (did they really mean fully equipped TV studios? I doubt it.), two 20,000 sq ft stages and two 30,000 sq ft stages.  There was also a 45,000 sq ft ‘water stage’, two back lots totalling about 30 acres and 55,000 sq ft of workshop space.  The plans included a film academy and student accommodation.

Following public consultation in October 2014, a planning application was submitted in May 2015.  The local council were due to determine the application by September.  Unfortunately, yet again the Scots seemed unable to take a decision regarding the building of film studios.  In December, the developer asked the Scottish Government to call in its planning application, claiming that the local Midlothian council had taken too long to consider its proposals.  They had hoped to open the studios early in 2017 but that timetable had obviously slipped.

Things took a turn for the worse in February 2016 – it was reported in The Scotsman that planners had insisted that the scheme should be thrown out as it would cause disruption to local residents, was unsuitable for green belt land and would hamper the growth of the Edinburgh Science Triangle development. 

I was contacted by someone who strongly opposed the plans and he pointed out the environmental concerns of building on this particular site.  He claimed that the plans were misleading as they failed to show the visual impact of the proposed power plant, amongst other things.  Well, I can’t really comment on these concerns as I don’t know the site and how it would impact locally.  His worries seemed genuine and were shared by many local people.  However, I do know that Scotland desperately needs a studio centre like this.

The studios were finally given the go-ahead in April 2017.  As for when the studios would open – the developers had previously mentioned 2018 but they now refused to give a date.  They had to go through the legal process of evicting a farmer, a road had to be re-routed and they had yet to submit a detailed planning application.  Some were saying that all this could take 4-5 years.


In October 2018 it was announced that unfortunately, this development was basically dead.  The farmer whose land makes up half of the site had always made it clear that he didn’t want to sell.  (How such an ambitious scheme could have been planned and progressed knowing that this was the situation is a mystery.)  Anyway, he won his court case against eviction so the studios could not go ahead. 

Scottish film makers must have been be spitting feathers at the continuing lack of facilities, when new stages were springing up all over the rest of the UK with no apparent problems over planning or funding.


pentland site plan 450p
Above – the scale of the development is clear to see.  The mauve section centre bottom is the film studio site with the green areas being the back lots.  The proposed power station is not included on this drawing.
pentland artists impression 450p
Above is how the stages might have been laid out.





Studio City Scotland – Dundee (project abandoned)


Another proposal for a studio site was revealed in January 2015 – this time in Dundee.  It had the name of Studio City Scotland and was planned to be built on land next to Claverhouse Industrial Park.  The scheme had the backing of actor Brian Cox and producer Barrie Osborne.  Curiously, according to press reports, Creative Scotland said they knew nothing of the project when it was announced.

It seems that the planning for this project was carried out in great secrecy but according to the press, in May 2015 the funding and backing for the project was in place.  Figures of £80m or £120m were quoted in various reports and the studios were going to be the ‘greenest’ in the world.  No details of the stages or other facilities were revealed but the American architects were said to have a long track record in designing studios.  The project was also intended to support the local games design industry.

However, according to Companies House, the company was dissolved in July 2018 so sadly, like other plans for studios in Scotland, this scheme came to nothing.





FirstStage Studios, Port of Leith – Edinburgh   (from 2020)

edinburgh port of leith aerial 450p


On 7th December 2018 yet another Scottish proposal was announced. This one at least looked like it had a chance of success as it was an adaptation of an existing facility, rather than designing new studios from scratch.  It had the backing of Screen Scotland – in fact, they acquired the site and invited private companies to take over and develop the facilities.  They were expecting detailed proposals by February 1st 2019!  So that’s about 7 weeks, including Christmas and New Year.

This request did unfortunately have the whiff of a rushed job, following the collapse of the proposed Pentland Studios development.  Indeed, the Association of Film and Television Practitioners Scotland raised these very concerns.  They stated that the tender document  ‘lacks significant detail regarding the physical requirements of the studio facility, yet demands that a massively detailed financial and logistical proposal be prepared in an almost impossible timescale by potential bidders.’   I can’t help thinking that they did seem to have a point.


Adapting an existing building does have the advantage of avoiding long, complex design and planning processes and is a relatively cheap solution but the end result will never be as good as a purpose built studio facility, where the stages are the size and shape you actually need and are equipped with proper grids.  However, Scotland desperately needs studio space for filming features and TV drama so this was probably a good choice in the circumstances.


The disused factory is located in Leith docks, not far from the city centre and airport.  It was built in 2000 for engineering firm VA Tech but closed two years later.  It then became the HQ of wave-power energy company Pelamis.  Sadly, despite the much needed possibilities of this interesting form of renewable energy, the sums didn’t add up and that company folded in November 2014.

edinburgh leith cutaway 450p


The facilities occupy an 8.6 acre site with the potential for 5 sound stages totalling 160,000 sq ft, with an additional 27,000 sq ft available for workshops, offices etc.  The empty building was used in 2017 as a location for Marvel Cinematic Universe movie Avengers: Infinity War.


Glory be!  15 months after the invitation to run these studios was announced, it was revealed on 10th March 2020 that someone had been found.  In fact, two people – producer Bob Last and actor/director Jason Connery.  Screen Scotland stated that their company, FirstStage Studios, won an open tender process to operate the studio business.  Screen Scotland invested £1m in the project – private investment was being sought to further develop the site.  The initial amount of cash paid for the fitting up of sound stages and production offices as well as the marketing of the studios.  In November 2020 it was announced that the first production to use the studios the following year would be supernatural thriller, The Rig.  It was made for Amazon Prime.  The next production towards the end of 2021 was reported to be Neil Gaiman drama Anansi Boys.  Independent feature Outrun used the water tank in stage 3 in the summer of 2022.

Series 2 of The Rig began filming here in 2023.  In an interview in The Knowledge, Bob Last of FirstStage Studios is quoted as saying ‘We have had oil rigs, entire London streets and  everything from deserts to discos built on our stages.’


image thanks to The Knowledge and FirstStage Studios





Saltersgate – near Dalkeith  (project abandoned.)

saltersgate schematic 450p


Following the abandonment of the Pentland Studios project, Buccleuch Estates contacted PSL Land to offer them a new site about four miles from the original proposal at Saltersgate, near Dalkeith in Midlothian.  There was reported to be a sale agreement in principle between the two parties.  The proposed studio site occupied 48 acres.  The new plans included 9 sound stages plus the usual workshops and offices.  They were also planning a ‘media hub.’  In January 2019, PSL Land submitted an initial report to the local council’s planning committee for this new scheme.

Unfortunately, according to Companies House, PSL was dissolved in January 2020 so I assume this project has been abandoned.





Kelvin Hall, Glasgow  (from 2022)

kelvin hall 450p


Kelvin Hall is a grand and impressive building in the west end of Glasgow.  Constructed as an exhibition centre in 1927, it has been used for many purposes over the years.  During WWII it it was a factory constructing barrage balloons.  Over later years it hosted sporting events, circuses, carnivals and music concerts.  Between 1987 and 2010 it housed the collection of the Glasgow Museum of Transport.  This was moved to a purpose-built home on the bank of the Clyde in 2011.


The building has struggled to find a real purpose in recent years as Glasgow now has excellent performance spaces and exhibition halls in the old docklands area near the BBC’s studios.  Some refurbishment of the venue has taken place in recent years – in fact a £40m redevelopment was completed in 2016.  This includes a home for Scotland’s official screen archive.  Parts of the building now contain sports halls, museum collections, office space and a climbing centre.  However, the main hall has failed to find a suitable use.


So in January 2021, Glasgow City Council announced a plan to convert the hall into a film and TV studio.  £7.9m was secured from the Scottish government and £4m from the City Council to carry out the work.  The go-ahead for the redevelopment was given in August 2021.

A ‘studio box’ of around 10,500 sq ft has been constructed – according to the website, it is 115 x 92 ft but one assumes these are the gross dimensions, not the working area within firelanes.  In any case, this is a relatively large studio (much larger than BBC Scotland’s Studio A at Pacific Quay.)  The structure supports trussing for lighting rigs and also forms an acoustic barrier.  There are 108 lighting hoists and 54 scenic hoists.  The lighting hoists have 16A and 32A sockets but there are no dimmers provided.  These have to be hired in if required.  The assumption is that most productions will use the LED lights supplied, which consist of 48 Desisti F10 Vari-White Fresnels and 24 ETC Source 4 Series 3 Lustr X8.  There is an ETC Ion XE20 lighting console and in the sound gallery is a Studer Vista X.  6 Sony HDC-3200 studio cameras are supplied – but most productions are likely to top this number up with hired-in cameras.

The studio contains retractable audience seating for 500 and there are fully equipped control galleries and edit suites.  The facility also has the usual wardrobe and make-up rooms, production offices, green rooms etc.  The main entrance has also been refurbished and a 500-seat restaurant created within the building.

Although this studio is apparently aimed at multicamera TV entertainment shows, many press reports have referred to this as a ‘film stage’ so it appears that the studio may also be used for single camera drama (although personally I doubt it.)  In fact, before the studio was created, during the summer of 2021 the hall was used as a build space for a 6-part drama called Screw.  It was made by STV for Channel 4.  The large available area enabled the construction of a 3-storey prison set.  Shooting wrapped in August and building works commenced soon after.  The steelwork went in during October.

The technical rig went in during September 2022 and the first booking was STV’s quiz show Bridge of Lies.  Several other productions including Frankie Boyle’s New World Order have booked space in this really well-equipped studio.  The studio was officially ‘opened’ by Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon in January 2023.


The impressive studio soon after opening.
with thanks to BBC Studioworks

During the studio’s planning, local politicians rather coyly referred to an unnamed but very experienced studio operator being associated with the project, who would manage the facility once it was open.  It was in fact widely known throughout the industry that this company is BBC Studioworks, which was confirmed by a press release in December ’21.  They are the commercial business, not supported by TV licence payers, who run the 3 studios at Television Centre, 2 studios at Elstree Studios and all the studios at the BBC Elstree Centre (until the end of 2024).  In 2022 they took over managing several of the stages at Roath Lock in Cardiff.

Early in 2021 it looked as though Studioworks might be brought in to run the two main TV studios at BBC Scotland’s HQ at Pacific Quay.  This would probably have led to some BBC Scotland staffers being made redundant and having to go freelance, as Studioworks do not directly employ technical crew.  This proved politically unpopular, so the idea went away – but what we now have is two large TV studios in Glasgow in competition with each other, even though they both have the letters ‘BBC’ associated with them.  Very interesting.





Pyramids Studios, Bathgate  (filming from 2017, new stages planned?)


The existing building. The new stages may be built on land at the far end.
A schematic of how the 5 new stages might look if they go ahead


An announcement was made in December 2021 that London and Regional Properties had acquired the Pyramids Business Park in Bathgate, about 20 miles from Edinburgh.  It is a 93-acre site with a building containing two giant warehouses totalling 140,000 sq ft and a large amount of office space.  It was originally constructed in 1992 by Motorola, who used it as a phone manufacturing plant until they closed it down in 2001.  HMRC then occupied part of the building until 2020.  Other companies have come and gone in various sections of the building too, including CSL Sofas.  In 2014, permission was granted to turn part of the building into a data centre.

Ashfield Land bought the premises in 2016 and refurbished the building, attracting new clients including some film and TV production companies.  Features and TV dramas have included Danny Boyle’s T2 Trainspotting, Outlaw King (Netflix), Shetland (ITV Studios for BBC Scotland) and series 2 of Good Omens (Amazon Prime).  They have used the facilities here as a production base and ‘build space’ for interior sets.

The new owners, London and Regional Properties, changed the name to Pyramids Studios.  They stated that they were keen to expand the site into a ‘world-class platform for film and TV production.’  They were intending to build 5 new sound stages in addition to the existing shooting spaces.  A planning application was submitted in October 2021.

As of 2024, the studios are now owned by Hackman Capital Partners in partnership with London and Regional Properties.  The MBS Group serves as the studio operator and exclusive provider of studio equipment and services.  This is very good news although I have yet to establish whether the new sound stages will be going ahead.   Their website simply states that there are 2 stages totalling 105,000 sq ft.  On site amenities include a food hall, fitness centre and children’s nursery.  Parking at the property can accommodate 1,214 cars.





Pioneer Film Studios – Stepps, Glasgow (from 2022 but closed in 2024)


The lack of suitable facilities for filming movies and high-end dramas in Scotland has been frustrating for many people over a number of years.  In 2022 a team of local filmmakers identified some industrial premises near Glasgow that would make very suitable studios with a little adaptation.  It was originally a distillery, where ‘Black and White’ whisky was manufactured.  The site is impressively large and offers 200,000 sq ft of shooting space, 90,000 sq ft of workshop space and 70,000 sq ft of office/ancillary space.  The first stage to open from the summer of 2022 was Stage 11 – it is 30,000 sq ft but could be split into two 15,000 sq ft areas.  There were also offices and workshops available.


One half of Stage 11 before the soundproofing and rigging was installed.
thanks to Pioneer Film Studios

The intention was to open more spaces over the next few years: stages 4 – 9 were due to open in 2023.  Each of them measures 18,000 sq ft. and there was planned to be plenty of workshop space with easy access to the stages.  The team running the enterprise were keen to emphasise the excellent travel links, the five hotels nearby and the fact that they would be offering childcare facilities.  There is also plenty of parking.

In November 2022 Screen Facilities Scotland announced that it was relocating to these studios.

Unfortunately, in June 2024 the news came that the studios had closed down due to financial difficulties.  Despite this, it seems that some of the auxiliary companies continue to trade on the site and apparently the studio facility can still accommodate film and TV projects as long as the necessary accompanying warehouse spaces etc are available at the time.  It is not clear for how long this arrangement will last.  Despite the bad news, Netflix have reportedly taken production office space there for the summer of 2024.

Sadly, this appears to be yet another consequence of the slow-down in the industry following the American writers’ and actors’ strikes in 2023.





Caledonian Film Studios (aka Edincal Studios) – Gartcosh (from 2026?)


image thanks to Edinburgh Caledonia Film Studios Ltd


Proposals for a large new film and HETV studio complex were announced at the beginning of 2021.  The site is close to Gartcosh, about 12 miles east of Glasgow.  The area is designated for industrial and commercial development and was once the site of a steel works so no green belt issues here.  Road communications are very good and it is close to a railway station. 

Public consultations ran from February to March 2022.  A planning application was due to be submitted in mid 2022 and assuming permission had been granted, construction would commence early 2023 with operation mid 2024.   Writing this in February 2024, I can find no information on a planning application or any other progress so must assume there are problems yet to be overcome.  If planning is submitted and swiftly passed, it is possible the work could commence late 2024 so we might see the studios available from 2026.

Assuming the scheme does eventually go ahead, the plans are very impressive, with 10 sound stages, 12 workshops (including a training school), media hub, post-production facilities, production offices, nursery, backlot and plenty of parking.  One hopes that this interesting scheme gets the green light very soon.





Stirling Film Studios  (from 2025?)


The existing site.
image thanks to Stirling Film Studios


In April 2024, Stirling Council and Screen Scotland revealed plans to turn some ex-MoD facilities at Forthside into one of Scotland’s largest film studios.  Some warehouse-type buildings are to be converted into filming stages and other facilities.  There will be 100,000 sq ft of shooting space and 110,000 sq ft of production, logistics and office space.  The remainder of the land will be redeveloped and cleared in line within existing plans, including the buildings not suitable for reuse.

The MoD land was purchased by the local authority for £5m through the Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Region Deal – a £214m partnership between Stirling and Clackmannanshire councils, the University of Stirling and the UK and Scottish governments.  This project has been supported by repurposing a proportion of the £19m grant secured by the council from UK government’s levelling up fund for the redevelopment and regeneration of Forthside.   An independent economic impact assessment has estimated the project will create more than 4,000 jobs over 25 years, with the positive benefits filtering down the wider supply chains.

A date for when the facilities will be available has not been mentioned but one assumes it could be during 2025.