Mitchell Miller talks to Ken Hay, head of Scottish Screen, about its future merger with the Scottish Arts Council and plans for education
These have been interesting times for Scottish Screen. Earlier this year came the expected announcement of merger with the Scottish Arts Council to form Creative Scotland.
The Scottish film world is a tough mistress and, to some, this pronounced final judgment on Scottish Screen's performance.
A rather hostile interview with Ken Hay appeared in the Sunday press, focusing a great deal on the personality of Scottish Screen's chief executive. All very juicy, but what has it to do with the chalkface? Actually, a great deal.
In April, Mr Hay outlined his plans for making the scheduled transition into Creative Scotland by 2008. He made frequent reference to "education"
When Mr Hay asked filmmaker Mark Cousins how he could promote a strong film culture in Scotland, the answer was simply "education". Mr Hay clearly sees this as central to the "fresh start" he has promised the Scottish Screen industries.
An example of what Scottish Screen would like to see more of is the four-year moving image education project it has developed in Angus with Angus Digital Media Centre and the council, supported by national Future Learning and Teaching funding. Speaking of "the unique partnership in Angus", Mr Hay says: "We need to see how far we can replicate such models across the country. It would be nice to see similar programmes appearing elsewhere."
Mr Hay and Scottish Screen's education officer, Scott Donaldson, are at pains to point out the importance of partnership, their role being to influence, advise and promote greater literacy in and through the moving image, whether through school creativity budgets or routes such as enterprise education.
"As long as the core fundamentals (of moving image education) are there, I'm happy," says Mr Donaldson, Mr Hay has vowed to make Scottish Screen's pound;6 million go further. The education budget will double, to pound;130,000 for 2006-07 and pound;203,000 for 2007-08.
The announcement that the pound;800,000 allocated to developing skills for the professional industry will be channelled through Skillset, the sector skills council for the audio-visual industries, has not proved entirely popular, with one filmmaker perceiving it as "filling their boots when they're already sitting on a pound;50 million pot". But Mr Hay points out that such funding should be directed through Skillset as the sector skills body and that there are agreements between the two bodies as to what should be done.
The screen industries are coming to a school or college near you, but the trailer is not giving too much away. Mr Hay does indicate that Scottish Screen will work through persuasion and co-operation, a main target being the local authorities, hoping to bring many of its initiatives into the educational mainstream.
Media access centres are the frontline of local filmmaking and training.
Their fortunes tend to vary: Angus Digital Media Centre's success contrasts with the recent implosion of Edinburgh's Mediabase. "We need to help them recognise the world is changing rapidly," says Mr Hay. "Capital resource implications are constantly reducing. What we want to see is how far we can develop them I as hubs of knowledge, experience and networking."
He confirms that the Scottish Screen archive is to be combined with the National Library of Scotland. "There are no plans to move it before 2010,"
says Mr Hay, and even then Scottish Screen will continue to play an active role in managing its resources.
Ruth Washbrook was recently appointed as the archive's outreach officer.
Her task is to convince more educators to access the materials and give advice on how to use them in the classroom.
Whatever the concerns for the main picture of the Scottish screen industries, the trailer for education is positive.