It Must be Love

by Wendy Mitchell

Producer Piers Tempest had finished filming Jonathan Teplitzky’s Churchill in Scotland in early 2016, and the experience convinced him that the country was the best place to shoot his next film, The Wife.

Even though the story is set mostly in the US and Stockholm, the production found exactly what it needed in Scotland and shot at locations including Glasgow City Chambers, Pollok House, Royal Concert Hall and the National Museum of Flight in East Lothian, where it made full use of the Concorde aircraft housed there.

“Scotland provides extremely versatile locations,” Tempest explains. “The decision to move the production to Scotland was really a function of the locations and great crew. This combined with the economic factors such as the favourable exchange rate — as our funding was substantially in US dollars — the UK tax credit and support from Creative Scotland, which tipped the scales for us.”

Indeed, The Wife received $243,500 (£200,000) of National Lottery funding through Creative Scotland’s Targeted Screen Fund, plus recce funding and locations assistance from Creative Scotland’s Screen Commission.

The film — which shot for seven weeks in late 2016 in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Stockholm — is directed by Björn Runge and stars Glenn Close as a writer who splits from her husband (Jonathan Pryce). Jane Anderson adapted the screenplay from Meg Wolitzer’s novel of the same name.

Welcome in the Highlands

Production is booming in Scotland. Film and TV producers spent a record $64m (£52.7m) shooting in the country in 2015, marking an increase in total annual production spend of almost $38.5m (£30m) since 2007 (Sony’s Outlander series is just one key booster). Despite several big productions setting up home in the country, smart scheduling ensured crew were available for The Wife. “We were lucky as a lot of crew had come off T2 Trainspotting,” Tempest says. “An even spread of production throughout the year is in everybody’s interest.”

Tempest — who produces The Wife alongside Meta Louise Foldager of Denmark’s Meta Film and Rosalie Swedlin of the US’s Anonymous Content — encourages other producers to consider Scotland’s appeal. “Locations are relatively easy to get to, with little congestion on the roads, and the accommodation is superb. It’s a great place to spend time. Glasgow and Edinburgh are fantastic cities and the Highlands are breathtaking.”

Brodie Pringle, head of Creative Scotland’s Screen Commission, notes it is more than the breathtaking locations that bring productions to Scotland. “What’s changing, with the tax reliefs and our top-up incentives, is that we’re finding productions are basing here in their entirety,” she says. “The Wife is a great example. They didn’t come here to shoot Scotland as Scotland; the majority of our locations were doubles for the US.

“It’s a realisation that Scotland is a destination to film because of the crews, facilities and infrastructure as well as support from Creative Scotland and its partners,” Pringle adds. “Scotland offers the whole package.”

Tempest agrees the support network was pivotal in bringing The Wife to the screen. That extended beyond the “excellent” financial and logistical support from Creative Scotland. “Across all the bodies we worked with, such as Glasgow Film Office and Glasgow City Council, everyone has the same aspiration to grow the industry, create jobs and make great films,” he says.

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