Published: 31/01/2014 09:52 - Updated: 31/01/2014 10:28

Tom relaxed over film studio move

BAFTA-nominated film-maker Tom Duncan hopes to expand his creative business with a move to a new studio in Moray.

Mr Duncan has carved out a burgeoning business in the last few years from his one- bedroom flat in Elgin.

But he hopes that taking over the top floor of the Relax furniture business in the heart of Elgin will provide him with a major boost.

Mr Duncan (30) was nominated for a BAFTA ‘New Talent’ award for his short film, ‘Joose’, about the project to establish a skatepark in Buckie.

Joose - BAFTA New Talent Nominee - Best Factual (2012) from Tom Duncan on Vimeo.

He was also second assistant director on the 2012 comedy short film, ‘Tumult’, about a group of Norse warriors, which was also nominated for a BAFTA.

Other projects in which he has been involved include ‘The Victorians’, for BBC Scotland, and the BBC2 documentary, ‘Teen Canteen’.

Mr Duncan has also undertaken several corporate projects, and has worked with Shelter Scotland and filmed the Johnstons of Elgin 2014 Autum

Winter campaign, which will be launched later this year.

As a graduate of Screen Academy Scotland in Edinburgh, he sees the creation of his own studio in Elgin as the perfect next move.

“I want to do what I love, where I love living. I studied in France for a year, and have also worked in London, Edinburgh and Glasgow,” said Mr Duncan, a former pupil of Lossiemouth High School.

However, new technology has broken down the geographical barriers to film-making, and Mr Duncan has chosen to develop his business from Moray.

He hopes to establish a creative hub with not only his own film-making and video enterprise, but other creative artists based in his new studio. He has plans to create a small eight-seat viewing room where clients can watch finished films.

“It is a massive move, and one I am really looking forward to, although with some nervousness about whether it is going to work out,” he added.

Leasing the upstairs department of Relax echoes the rich history of the building, which saw it used as a Picturedrome from 1896. For more than 30 years it screened some of the iconic films of the era.

“It feels weirdly like this was meant to be,” said Mr Duncan. “The fact that people used to come here to watch films and hopefully people will be coming here again to watch mine is kind of cool.”

The Picturedrome closed in the 1930s, and was a furniture store for a brief period before becoming the BBC Club in 1938. The building of radio masts at Burghead brought many BBC personnel to the area, and they established recreation rooms in the building.

Tom Duncan (right) and Alastair Grant in the Relax studio.
Tom Duncan (right) and Alastair Grant in the Relax studio.

The BBC staged many dances and music broadcasts from the building over the years, until it closed in the early 1980s.

Local furniture and DIY store Decora took over the building for a short period before current owner Alastair Grant opened his Relax store upstairs in 1985.

Mr Grant, a former forester, had decided on a change of career, and focused on a niche shop selling contemporary furniture.

“We brought in a lot of items from Scandinavia. It was totally new for Elgin at that time, and I still like to think we are a bit different,” he said.

Nine years after opening the business upstairs, Mr Grant took over the downstairs premises, which had been used by an insurance business, to expand the store.

With his 68th birthday looming later this year, Mr Grant has one eye on retirement, and closing the upstairs department is a move towards that.

It was during a chat with Craig Robertson from the Business Gateway advice service that Tom Duncan’s name was first mentioned, and the move took off from there.

Mr Grant is thrilled with the potential new use for the upstairs area of the building.

“The building has been good for me, and I am glad it is going to be used for something like this. It is something creative, new and exciting for Elgin,” he said.

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