Berrie births FilmCity Glasgow

Franz Ferdinand sets up shop in old town hall

Something is stirring on the banks of the Clyde, the river that once made the Scottish city of Glasgow one of the great ports of the British Empire.

The late-Victorian edifice of Govan Town Hall is a monument to those departed times, when Glasgow built the ships that enabled Britannia to rule the waves.

Govan is a wasteland now, the shipbuilding industry long dead. But the old town hall is rising again, in a new guise as FilmCity Glasgow, the brainchild of Scotland’s most dynamic producer, Gillian Berrie (Cannes player “Red Road,” Oscar-nommed “After the Wedding,” Berlin pic “Hallam Foe”).

Berrie raised $12 million from various European and Glaswegian public funds to transform the building into a film studio, with production offices, post-production facilities and a cafe to create a community spirit among the tenants. These already include, alongside her own thriving outfit Sigma Films, the art-rock band Franz Ferdinand.

FilmCity Glasgow is just one element of the Pacific Quay redevelopment, a 60-acre site that bills itself as the most advanced digital broadcasting center in Europe. It’s home to the striking new HQs of Scotland’s two biggest broadcasters — the ITV station STV and BBC Scotland. London-based f/x house Artem recently announced that it’s also opening an outpost nearby.

Two new bridges, one for pedestrians and one for cars, are being built across the river to connect this media hub to the city center. After half a century of post-imperial decline, confidence and cash are starting to flow along the Clyde again, and out into the world beyond.

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