Edinburgh indie to celebrate 20th birthday

WITH some 80 programmes ‘under its belt’, an Edinburgh-based independent television production company celebrates its twentith birthday on Saturday.

Set up by George Cathro and Iain Bruce, Hand Pict has made programmes for the BBC, Channel 4, stv and Five.

Recently, it followed football club, Gretna’s rise from the second division all the way to their nail-biting promotion to the SPL, in two documentaries – Gretna’s Field of Dreams, and A Different League – commissioned by Ewan Angus at BBC Scotland.

Hand Pict specialises in using cutting-edge technologies, filming in areas of difficult or sensitive access, including in prisons, with cancer patients, the adoption services and with the Muslim communities in Dundee.

Hand Pict has grown from a small desk and a phone in Picardy Place, Edinburgh, to owning its own premises and edit facilities in the capital’s Haymarket, where it also runs observational documentary training courses.

Invitations have gone out to current and former colleagues, to attend a birthday party on Saturday.

Cathro’s background is in photography and music, having played bass for The Revillos and Hey! Elastica – in their time both signed to Virgin Records.

He says: “It is a difficult time for documentary. Too often, broadcasters head for the safe ground, being repeatedly seduced by the cult of celebrity, missing out on great stories about real people of real impact and importance. The recent TV honesty scandals have not only damaged companies like RDF but have impacted on the industry as a whole, creating an atmosphere of risk aversion.”

Hand Pict is currently following Edinburgh’s Donaldson’s College in its move from an iconic Playfair building in the city’s West End to a new, purpose-built ‘signature building’ in Linlithgow. Filming began in April last year; the programme will be on air early next year.