Picture Producing in Scotland: First Picture Twenty Years Ago
Picture producing in Scotland - please note, picture producing - is no new thing. To get back to the first cinema picture produced in Scotland, it is necessary to go back almost twenty years - to be exact, to the year 1900. To those not possessed of good memories or actual knowledge, this may seem a rather far-fetched statement, but, as Burns says, 'facts are chiels that winna ding and daurna be disputed'. To nail our facts, then, let it be said that the first animated picture to be taken in Scotland, by a Scottish firm, was entitled An Incident in the Boer War, and was produced at the Old Barracks, Gallowgate, Glasgow, by the late Mr. George Green. At the Carnival in that year the 'set piece' was was representing an incident in the Boer War, and in it were engaged a big crowd of artists. The leading man was Mr. Claud Randall, and the comedy man, if my memory serves me correctly, was one who is now a much respected manager not a hundred miles from Glasgow. Mr. George Green saw the possibilities of picture production in Scotland, and one of the very last enterprises he undertook before his lamented death was the erection and fitting of a complete studio, with developing and printing departments, at the extensive grounds where the firm's business is still carried on. Other pictures produced at the Old Barracks were entitled The Children and the Lions, in which children and a litter of lion cubs took part, and a story of a snow fight. These pictures were exhibited by Mr. Green all over the country, in England as well as Scotland, in the days before cinema as we have them know were ever thought of.
The next ambitious effort in film production in Scotland was that of Rob Roy, which was performed by Scottish players around the Rob Roy country at Aberfoyle. The producer in this was the well-known Mr. Barker [sic], who is still producing to-day with greater success than ever.
Mr J.J. Bennell, who was then head of the B/B. Film Service, and is still the grand old man of the Trade as head of the B.B. Pictures, Limited, was the next to enter the field of producers, and Burns' Tam o' Shanter was very successfully filmed, and had a big measure of success in Scotland.
Three or four years ago Messrs. Green again entered the field, and at their studios at the Carnival they produced several comedies, designated with the registered name of Club Comedies. In their production work at this period Messrs. Green had the assistance of an American producer, but all the work was done under the personal supervision of Mr. Herbert J. Green, and was only discontinued on account of the war.
About two years ago, Mr. Syd St. Clair, of Wishaw, opened the Royal Studios at that town, and here he has already produced three pictures, and at the present moment has a most ambitious subject in hand. The studios at Wishaw are perfectly equipped, and for the work in hand at present, Mr. St. Clair's company includes, in addition to local talent, well=known London artists. The facilities which have been placed at the disposal of the Royal Studios are such as will enable them to place pictures on the market to compete with the productions of any other studios, and include locations on estates in the most picturesque parts of the highlands and trossachs, and other advantages which cannot fail to be of immense value. The writer has been privileged to inspect some of the work done at the to the public [sic], the producer will have no cause to solicit sympathy or consideration on the ground that it is Scottish, or that some of the artists are local or Royal Studios, and can say that when it is submitted amateur. [sic]
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