A group of aspiring young creatives were invited to tour the set of UK Original supernatural thriller The Rig last week, giving them the opportunity to meet Scottish star Martin Compston and gain a valuable insight into the world of film and TV production.
Drama and media studies students from Lochgelly High School in Fife visited FirstStage Studios, in Leith, for an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour aimed at inspiring and nurturing young creative talent in Scotland. The Rig, which first premiered on Prime Video in January this year, follows the crew of the Kinloch Bravo oil rig stationed off the Scottish coast in the North Sea’s treacherous waters.
The students, who are working towards their Scottish Higher qualifications, sought advice from the show’s star-studded cast as filming for the highly-anticipated second series got underway. During the visit, students watched the studio in action and gleaned insights from The Rig’s experienced script writers and production crew, including Executive Producer, John Strickland, and writer, David Macpherson, who hails from Scotland, who shared tips and advice from their own career journeys.
Amazon’s Presence in Scotland
Amazon, which has directly invested over £50m into the Scottish screen sector, and supported 670 jobs in Scotland’s creative industries in 2022, invited Lochgelly High School as part of its broader commitment to support education and skills development for Scotland’s young people, in both the creative industries and technology.
“Inspiring young talent is a priority for us at Amazon, and we have a great opportunity to do this in Scotland’s creative industries.”
“Our students absolutely loved visiting the production of The Rig in Leith and we were blown away by the kindness and generosity of the cast and crew,” said Olivia Porteous, English and Media Studies teacher from Lochgelly High School. “It was an amazing experience that will stick with our pupils and has given them a great taste of what a career in acting, script writing, or production might look like. I’m hopeful that it will provide huge inspiration for their future careers.”
Screen Scotland recently announced that spending in Scotland’s screen sector increased by 55% between 2019 and 2021, contributing £627 million to Scotland’s economy in gross value added. The production sub-sector supports 7,150 full-time equivalent jobs in Scotland as of 2021 increasing from 5,120 in 2019.
Eugenie Teasley, Head of Impact at Amazon, said: “Inspiring young talent is a priority for us at Amazon, and we have a great opportunity to do this in Scotland’s creative industries. From The Rig to Anansi Boys, we are filming a number of high-end TV productions in Scotland and supporting hundreds of jobs across the sector. We hope the students from Lochgelly High School were inspired by their visit to the studio in Leith and can’t wait to see a new generation of talent flourish.”
Suzanne Reid, Producer of The Rig, added: “It was a pleasure to host the students from Lochgelly High School in our studio. The cast and crew, who are largely Scottish locals, loved speaking with the students, hearing about their goals, sharing advice from their own careers, and encouraging them to consider a career in Scotland’s screen sector.
“Being from Fife myself, I am passionate about encouraging homegrown talent to join our industry. I was lucky enough to attend a weekend performing arts club in Lochgelly when I was at school, which was a huge inspiration to me, so I know how valuable it is to raise young people’s aspirations and give them first-hand insight into the future careers available to them in Scotland.”
Fife is home to one of Amazon’s largest UK fulfilment centres, with the Dunfermline site employing more than 1,200 people locally, and where the company established its first ‘multibank’ donations hub, ‘The Big House’, from a warehouse in Lochgelly. Created in partnership with former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and lead charity partner, The Cottage Family Centre, the multibank donates hundreds of thousands of essential products to those in need across Scotland, with support from a network of local and national businesses. Following the success of the programme, Amazon announced it was expanding to Greater Manchester earlier this year.
How Amazon supports education and skills development in Scotland
The school visit to FirstStage Studios in Leith is the latest in a series of initiatives taken by Amazon to support education and skills development for Scotland’s young people. Through its Amazon Future Engineer programme, Amazon works to increase access to computer science education for students from underserved and underrepresented communities across Scotland. Through initiatives such as Class Chats, where Amazon employees volunteer to speak with a school class about their personal career stories and insights, and Virtual School Trips, where students go behind the scenes at an Amazon fulfilment centre to learn about the technologies that power Amazon’s operations, the company is passionate about providing workplace exposure and helping raise career aspirations.
Last year, Amazon announced it has invested over £50m into the Scottish screen sector with productions including Good Omens Season 2, as well as The Rig and Anansi Boys, both filmed at Edinburgh’s FirstStage Studios. The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) receives funding from Prime Video for three years to support four students on its BA Production programmes, with cost-of-living bursaries available for the duration of their studies at RCS. Ten Prime Video Craft Academy trainees are based out of Scotland from the National Film and Television School (NFTS) Glasgow hub. Placements are with production companies IWC, Firecrest, HeeHaw, Storyboard Studios, Blazing Griffin, and hire company Progressive Broadcast, and on series The Rig, River City, Shetland, This Farming Life and Lagging.
Read more about how Amazon is supporting the UK’s homegrown film and TV talent.