Glasgow’s Hollywood takeover – coming this spring

Published

Credit: Angela George

Oliver Rudden
Writer

Steven Spielberg and Sam Mendes in the city for ‘1917’ filming

Hollywood is coming to Glasgow this spring as Steven Spielberg and Sam Mendes are planning to shoot in the city for a new upcoming movie.

Hollywood veteran Steven Spielberg will team up with Bond director Sam Mendes (Skyfall, Spectre) for their new movie 1917, filming in Glasgow this month.

1917 is a drama set in the battlefields of the First World War and has been given the go ahead from Glasgow City Council to film at the Govan Graving Docks, an A listed building site in Glasgow.

The movie is set to include an A-list line up of Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth, Mark Strong and Richard Madden, star of the BBC One hit series Bodyguard along with George MacKay and Dean-Charles Chapman who will play two young British soldiers on the frontline.

1917 will also be the first movie directed by Sam Mendes since 007 Spectre, which released back in November 2015.

According to planning documents, the Govan Graving Docks is set to be transformed into wartime France. Works will include the building of a bridge over a canal.

Spielberg and Mendes will use the docks for ten weeks, beginning on 22 April. The period includes the constructing, filming and dismantling of the set but if you want a chance to spot any big players, filming is set to take place between 11 – 14 June.

Glasgow Council hopes the film will boost the local economy, telling media outlets:

“We don’t know for sure the economic impact of all the films, broadcast productions, that come to the city. It’s difficult to do until after the production.

“Production on this scale will use local functional support. I can imagine there will be a significant economic impact out of this.”

Glasgow is no stranger to the world of film and TV. 1917 is only the latest addition of many Hollywood blockbusters that have come to Glasgow to film.

Most recently, Idris Elba was in town for the shooting of Fast and Furious spinoff Hobbs and Shaw, returning to the city after six scenes of the 2012 Fast and Furious 6 were shot in Glasgow.

Perhaps most memorably, Glasgow’s own George Square was remodelled to the American city of Philadelphia for Brad Pitt’s zombie apocalyptic blockbuster World War Z, attracting nation-wide media attention back in 2011.

Film and other forms of broadcasting have been economically beneficial for Glasgow, where such productions were said to have generated an estimated £15 million into the Glasgow economy thanks to the Glasgow Film Office (GFO), the film commission owned by Glasgow City Council.

Leader of Glasgow City Council Susan Aitken previously stated in 2018 that Glasgow Film Office had “brought over £300m to the city’s economy”.

One of Glasgow’s biggest advantages to attracting filmmakers is the famous “can do attitude” that the city possesses as well as the Council being open to productions filming on open places such as George Square.

Glasgow does not only rely on Hollywood studios coming to the city to film; it boasts its very own successful arts and media industry.

Glasgow is home to BBC Scotland and Scottish Television (STV) based at Pacific Kay. Channel 4 also recently announced one of their new creative hubs would be based in the city.

Film and media is a big part of Glasgow and Scotland, and only seems to be growing.

While the production getting the green light from the Council will likely excite movie buffs in the city, it may also be a controversial one, as the docks have been at the center of conflict between developers and heritage preservation groups in recent times.

Last year, the Council rejected plans from developers New City Vision that would have transformed the historic Docks into a residential area including 700 flats, a museum, restaurants, shops, offices and a hotel. Reasons for rejection listed by Glasgow City Council included poor space for parking and risks of flooding, as well as failing to do enough to protect the historic interest of the docks.

The planning application put forward by New City Vision drew 59 formal objections, including one from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.

It will be interesting to see if filming will have any effect on the future of the docks.