made in scotlanD film
made in scotlanD film
we love film welcome to scotland From The Magdalene Sisters to Sweet Sixteen, from The Last King of Scotland to Summer, and from Red Road to Valhalla Rising, our creative talent and businesses lead the way in storytelling on the big screen for global audiences. Writers, directors, producers, actors – Scotland produces the best. Paul Laverty, Kevin Macdonald, Kenny Glenaan, Gillian Berrie, Iain Smith, Kate Dickie and Ewen Bremner are all profiled here, as are the production companies, facilities companies and individual talent who make Scotland the best place to make films. Through the Skillset Screen and Media Academies, Creative Loop and a host of talent development initiatives, Scotland is supporting the development of the next generation of filmmaking talent and businesses. And we don’t just love making films – we love seeing them as well. We have the best network of cultural cinemas, the widest range of festivals and of course, the UK’s premier film festival (and the world’s longest running), the Edinburgh International Film Festival.
And Scotland’s cities, towns and amazing land and seascapes act as a magnet for international producers looking for that perfect location. We have the best talent, the most innovative businesses, state of the art facilities, world class locations and a ‘can do’ approach to doing business. This brochure gives you a flavour of what Scotland has to offer. If you want to know more, then get in touch with Scottish Screen at www.scottishscreen.com. Welcome to Scotland.
Ken Hay Chief Executive, Scottish Screen June 2009
IainSmith made in scotlanD film
hink of the extended vacation taken in the tiny Scottish town of Ferness taken in Bill Forsyth’s Local Hero. Or the astonishing journey taken by Dith Pran (Dr Haing s Ngor) across Year Zero Cambodia in Roland Joffé’s The Killing Fields. Think also of Robert de Niro’s climb to the top of a South American waterfall in The Mission, Gerald Depardieu as Christopher Columbus, travelling to discover America in Ridley Scott’s 1492: Conquest of Paradise, or Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis) and his wild trip to an outer-space opera in Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element. All of these incredible journeys were made possible by the production expertise of Iain Smith, a Scottish producer behind such huge worldwide hits as Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes, Anthony Mingella’s Cold Mountain and Timur Bekmambetov’s thriller Wanted - three films with a combined worldwide box-office take of just short of a billion US dollars between them. Of course, Smith has a remarkable story of his own to tell: his first cinematic involvement was with My Childhood, the first instalment of Bill Douglas’s celebrated trilogy about growing up in rural Scotland, with a budget of £7000. And now… “I don’t know if you remember the television series The A-Team, but I’m currently working on setting up the film version of that,” says Smith. “It’s a real shoot-‘em up, blow-‘em up project. Only the fullness of time will show whether it’s become a reality or not. Making films doesn’t get any easier, but it’s always fun.” “Every project has its own uniqueness. To me, there’s absolutely no point in doing something that you think has been done before. The process has to be both exciting and terrifying at the same time. There’s got to be pitfalls and problems, yes, but there’s also got to be surprise and innovation,” says Smith. “To be honest, I never thought I’d build up the body of work I have now. Filmmaking was something I was passionate about in my teens and since no one stopped me, I’ve just kept going since then. One good thing is that having 4
this number of big projects on your track record does seriously improve your credibility. But it’s still enormously difficult to make a film. I’ve got four projects on the go at the moment, and no one knows which of them, if any, will actually get made. Sometimes you end up spending six months working on something that doesn’t get made - that’s just the way it is. I’ve no regrets about anything; ultimately, failure is just a way of getting to success.” Film producing is often seen as a cut-throat business, where successful practice depends on outdoing the competition by any means necessary. “It’s not something I think of as a competitive sport. It’s more important to focus on what you can learn from what the other people around you are doing. [Lord] David Puttnam is someone who taught me some very fundamental truths about moving into features; I owe him an enormous debt. And the technicians who make the filmmaking process possible, they can teach you about the zen of film, or maybe it should be the tao. These are people who make it look easy; they have a certain inner peacefulness. They can show you that the way to get things done isn’t to go around screaming and shouting, but to remain centred and calm. I’m also lucky enough to have worked with such prodigious talents as Robert Bolt or Luc Besson. Working with such great creative people is what makes it interesting to be a producer.” One Hollywood great that Smith singles out for particular praise is Robert Redford, who starred in Smith’s 2001 hit Spy Game for director Tony Scott, with Redford playing opposite Brad Pitt. “I’ve got huge respect for Redford’s work, in front of and behind the camera. As an actor, there’s a remarkable articulation about the way he plays a character. It’s very deceptive, because it might seem as if he’s not doing much, but he’s actually doing everything,” says Smith. “That’s the mark of the consummate film actor; that’s the quality that makes him stand out. You could see that even when Brad Pitt arrived on set, he was full of respect for what Redford does. As a producer, it’s fascinating to have a ring-side seat to see people like that work.” In the complex world of film finance, not every day can be sunny; Smith is remarkably candid about the projects that didn’t work out so well, or the ones that got away.
made in scotlanD film
“Working with such great creative people is what makes it interesting to be a producer.” - Iain Smith
“I’ve made mistakes; I turned down Withnail and I, for one. I sent the script back to Bruce Robinson and said, “I just don’t get it. When I went to a screening of the film, I was wincing as I was laughing, thinking about what I’d missed,” he says. “I have made a few films that were less successful than others. Killing Dad was a film, which was really reaching for something, but ended up falling flat. And Hearts of Fire was a film that wandered out of control; Bob Dylan’s very good in the film, but I think maybe we didn’t pay enough attention to the other roles, and ended up getting sidetracked about what the film was saying. And Mary Reilly didn’t work for a lot of people; it seemed to be too melancholic for audiences. Stephen Frears and Christopher Hampton had set out to reverse people’s expectations of the traditional Jekyll and Hyde story, but that seemed to make audiences feel uncomfortable. You live and learn.” Even the most pernickety studio bean-counter would have to admit that the hits far outweigh the misses, and Smith can look back with satisfaction on creating films that have changed the way many of us look at the world around us. “I’m very proud of The Killing Fields; it’s a film that takes you to another place and has gone on to have a life of its own,” he says. “And I’m very excited to have worked with talents like Bekmambetov on Wanted. I’d been particularly intrigued by Day Watch and Night Watch. And it was great to work with Darren Aronofsky on The Fountain. That film created very different reactions within audiences, but that’s fine by me; the last thing I’d ever want to create is indifference.”
made in scotlanD film
Kevin Macdonald is the latest Scot to establish himself as an A-list director. It’s hardly a surprise to those who believe that talent lies in the blood, given that he’s the grandson of Emeric Pressburger, who together with Michael Powell created films as celebrated as The Red Shoes, Black Narcissus, and one of the finest dramas ever set in Scotland, I Know Where I’m Going. Picking up where his grandfather left off, Macdonald’s rise to the top has been brisk and highly impressive. He won an Oscar for his documentary about the Munich Olympics massacre, One Day In September, then went to the BAFTAs and won the Alexander Korda award for best British film with drama-documentary Touching The Void. His first feature proper, The Last King of Scotland, provided a breakthrough role for James McAvoy, and won Forest Whitaker an Oscar for his portrayal of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin. Macdonald’s latest film, an adaptation of the BBC drama State of Play, hit the number one slot in the UK and across Europe in Spring 2009, and marks the latest success in a career market by politically sensitive, imaginative, kinetic filmmaking.
State of Play
“I was very worried when I first took on State of Play, because I feared that people who loved the series might not respond to the idea of a film, but as it turns out, there were only a few critics in the US who took the line that I’d ‘Hollywoodised’ the original programme. To me, it was just a chance to make the kind of atmospheric, adult thriller that I enjoyed watching, a kind of film that you don’t see much of at the cinema anymore,” says MacDonald. “It was a great film to make. Universal took a terrifically hands-off approach, and we got great stars for the leads in Ben Affleck, Russell Crowe and Helen Mirren, which meant we could create really interesting, complex characters. We were running against the grain of all the superhero movies. In State of Play, it’s ordinary people like journalists who are the real super-heroes.”
“There’s no point addressing a subject if you don’t look at the humanity of those involved.” - Kevin Macdonald
State of Play centres round an investigation by old-school newspaper reporter Cal McAffrey (Crowe) into an apparent conspiracy, which connects up with the investigation into arms contracts, led by an old friend of McAffrey’s, congressman Stephen Collins (Affleck). Many observers noted that Crowe’s sometimes stormy relationship with press representatives didn’t get in the way of him pulling off an empathetic and highly likable performance.
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my work in documentary filmmaking. When I made The Last king of Scotland about Idi Amin, people accused me of humanising him, but to me, that’s my job. People just don’t set out to be purely good or bad, so to portray a character like Amin in a onedimensional way is to miss the point about the nature of their own particular evil. It’s too easy to think of evil as being a big conspiracy, or the work of a bad corporation. The truth is that the worst things that have happened historically have often been launched by the actions of a single individual. There’s no point addressing a subject if you don’t look at the humanity of those involved,” says Macdonald. State of Play’s opening sequence, however, ingeniously sets up the reality of the situation through a startling chase through busy traffic, a sequence which Macdonald spent a great deal of time and effort to set the right tone for a big studio picture.
“I think the way that Cal McAffrey comes over is down to Russell; he brings real depth and complexity to everything he does. The way he plays a character can make them seem like someone it would be easy to imagine meeting. The roles he plays seem to exist in the round, in a way that very few actors can manage. He’s a truly fascinating performer,” says Macdonald. “I wanted McCaffrey to be someone who comes from a particular school of political, investigative journalism, people who aren’t afraid to ask difficult questions and stick their noses in where they’re not wanted. In the 1930’s, 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, journalists were often portrayed as fast-talking, hard-nosed characters, but Watergate changed all that. Journalists were portrayed in a more heroic light, college educated and responsible, but with the skills of a private investigator. Today, print journalists are seen to be somewhat lower down the pecking order, and often denigrated as having a tabloid sensibility. But Cal is the opposite of the modern blogger, who gives instant opinions without checking facts. He’s got integrity.”
of admiration for the practices of print journalism. The newspaper industry seems to be changing for the worst, and I have strong reservations about the death of the kind of journalism that can bring politicians and governments to task for their actions,” says Macdonald. “As classified and other forms of advertising seem to be fleeing to the internet, and many big cities in the US no longer have a large newspaper to represent them, it does make me fear for the future. I read an article by David Simon, creator of The Wire, which suggested that the next 10 years could be a great time to be a corrupt politician, and I fear that might well turn out to be true. Journalism seems to be caught in a vicious circle right now, and I wanted State of Play to be very much of this particular moment in history.”
“I do wonder if State of Play might end up seeming to capture the last gasp
“In terms of the characters, I suppose it’s something that I’ve taken on from
Although elements of the plotting of State of Play can be compared to real-life political events, it’s one of the few projects that Macdonald has been involved in which isn’t based on actual historical figures. Yet the characters and situations in State of Play certainly have an authentic feel to them.
“I didn’t want to do the action scenes in a Bourne Supremacy-style, all long lenses and fast cutting. So we devised a very rehearsed opening involving a stuntman we trained specifically to go through the actions required, and followed with the camera, so that all the action happens in just one take,” says Macdonald. “It’s a simpler style, but one that was ideal to start the film. When he appears to get hit by the motorcycle, I really thought he wouldn’t be able to continue, but the stuntman managed it, even though he had suffered a considerable impact. To me, the way we went about it was a more classical way of shooting realistic action.” Next up, Macdonald is heading back to Scotland for a film adaptation of the classic book of Roman warfare and adventure, The Eagle of the Ninth. “I’d read the book when I was a kid, and loved it - it was a real favourite of mine. I found out that the rights were held by producer Duncan Kenworthy, and managed to get a script put together with Jeremy Brock and Peter Morgan, who did The Last King of Scotland. So we’ll be shooting in Scotland in 2009, hopefully,’ says Macdonald. “The script has come out very well indeed, so I’m hoping that the film will work out just as smoothly.”
made in scotlanD film
laverty Paul Laverty
“Apparently we’re having a 30 second trailer screened during the halftime break of the 2009 Champions League Final in Rome. Not much chance of that happening with a film about Ireland or immigrant cleaners speaking Spanish! Mind you, I didn’t imagine it for a film in which the main character is a grandfather on the point of a nervous breakdown either.” Billed as a ‘heroic comedy’, Ken Loach’s 2009 film, Looking For Eric, marks a departure for all concerned. A comic offering from of the world's most socially-aware directors. A featured actor who is arguably the greatest footballer and philosopher since Albert Camus, Eric Cantona. And branching out into a fresh new genre, Loach’s regular collaborator, Scottish writer Paul Laverty. Now that the hoopla of Looking For Eric’s Cannes debut is over, Laverty looks back with pleasure on sharing the podium with an unusual, highprofile star. “Eric Cantona is wonderful company - he’s funny, modest and a very bright man,” says Laverty. “I think footballers get a rough deal in terms of how they’re portrayed in the media. This didn’t happen to Eric, but they’re often stereotyped as being crude or inarticulate. But it’s not easy giving
interviews when you’re 18 years old, and I’m glad I didn’t have to do it. Eric was prepared to laugh at himself, and that notion of undermining celebrity culture is at the heart of the film.” Looking for Eric isn’t a football biopic, but a touching story about Eric Bishop, a Mancunian postman who finds the strength to deal with his various family problems through the wise words of the talismanic Frenchman. Surprisingly, the initial idea for collaboration came not from the filmmakers, but originated from Cantona himself. “Eric is a big fan of Ken’s work, and came to us with a French producer and a two-page outline about a fan, who followed him from Leeds to Manchester. While I think it might have had strong possibilities, I wasn’t the one to write it. The freedom of the totally fictional always has a very strong pull for me. So another possibility came to mind, which I thought might have some mischief at its heart. As I travelled to Paris to talk to Eric about the possibility of him being the figment of the imagination of a pot-smoking grandfather, who suffers from panic attacks, I had no idea if it would connect with him. He laughed his head off at some of the daft scenes I suggested.” “From the beginning, Eric was prepared to send up his own public persona, and he really did have some insight and sympathy for the fictional character Eric Bishop. This gave me great freedom when I came to write the script. And then Steve Evets came on board to play Bishop. He’s really the heart of the film; it’s terrific to have Eric Cantona himself, but that shouldn’t overshadow Steve’s performance,” says Laverty. “So many people have messy lives; each personal history is fantastically complex and sometimes we never get to the root of our problems. I think Steve’s acting catches this beautifully. He’s a terrific actor.” As Bishop, Evets follows his poignant portrayal of Daz opposite Robert Carlyle in Kenny Glenaan’s Summer with another finely-wrought portrait. While some of the story elements are serious, dealing with divorce, gun-crime and paternal responsibility, Looking For Eric builds to a finale that’s likely to send audiences out on a high. “This was a deliberate change of pace after The Wind That Shakes The Barley and It’s A Free World, both of which had a hard edge to them because of the
made in scotlanD film
Looking For Eric
“As you make films, I suppose you have to learn to be philosophical and enjoy the process, because one thing is for certain, you never know how it will turn out.” – Paul Laverty issues they deal with. Looking For Eric explores a serious subject, but in a lighter way,” says Laverty. “We’re looking at the way life can sometimes overwhelm us, and mental health is often a taboo issue especially for men. Yes, Looking For Eric is a fantasy and a fairytale, but underneath I hope it will be a little ode to our fragility and deep human need for friendship.” Looking For Eric has already won positive notices from the international press, much like previous Loach/ Laverty collaborations on Carla’s Song, Bread and Roses, Sweet Sixteen, Ae Fond Kiss and Tickets. But as Looking For Eric sets off on its international rounds, Laverty has a fresh project in the offing: a film about Christopher Columbus, directed by Laverty’s partner Icíar Bollaín, director and co-writer of award-winning drama Take My Eyes. “It’s called Even The Rain, and we’re hoping to shoot it in Bolivia, with Gael Garcia Bernal in the main role,” says
Laverty. “Raising the finance for such a big project can be a long and drawnout business, particularly in these difficult times. But as you make films, I suppose you have to be philosophical and enjoy the process, because one thing is for certain, you never know how it will turn out. As with Eric Bishop, it's the way you look at things that gets you through - that and having good mates around.”
Ken Loach with Paul photos © Sixteen Films/Joss Barratt
made in scotlanD film
OUTCAST James Nesbitt
Once upon a time, the average horror film would feature such familiar elements like secluded castles, mad doctors and men in monster suits. But today’s fantasies often take place in settings that are much closer to home. The success of Let The Right One In demonstrated that there’s few things more frightening that encountering some fantastic creature in a domestic setting, and that’s a similar theme to Outcast, a horror film which shot in Edinburgh in early 2009.
Eddie Dick of Scottish company, Makar Productions, was behind the shoot, together with Fantastic Films in Ireland, who originated the project. “It’s an idea which came from the dark recesses, of the writers’ minds: Colm McCarthy, the writerdirector, and Tom K McCarthy, his brother and cowriter. Both grew up in Edinburgh, and also have a long term love for horror,” says Dick. “So Outcast isn’t just a ‘chase girls through the woods with an axe’ film; it’s about growing up, finding your sexuality and discovering your own identity. And it’s suffused with notions of Celtic mythology which I think provide it with a unique flavour.” Outcast stars Kate Dickie, James Cosmo, and James Nesbitt, the latter one of the UK’s most popular actors, and one whose recent performance in the Jekyll and Hyde BBC series marked him out as an ideal choice to take part in such a dark tale. “The premise is that Mary (Kate Dickie) and her teenage son, Fergal (Nial Bruton), have been on the run for a few years as the film starts, living in
a van, and now they’ve reached a moment when they have to stop, for reasons which are not necessarily obvious at the time,” says Dick. “James Nesbitt is in pursuit of them, and while it initially seems that he is the immediate predatory threat, there’s something even more ghastly waiting in the wings... There’s also a sub-plot involving the girl next door, Petronella, with whom Fergal is developing an unconditional love affair, but she’s also someone that Mary has already warned him against.” Rather than straight genre, Dick sees the film as having social-political meanings, with it gaining in atmosphere from a realistic backdrop of bleak Edinburgh housing schemes. “It’s not the horror of a thunderclap and a ruined castle; it’s very working class in both setting and characters. We managed to construct the housing scheme in the film from about four different locations, and we also used Edinburgh’s Old Town as well,” says Dick. “As with Let The Right One In, where the girl next door turns out to be a vampire, the backdrop helps sets the scene for a domestic horror story. I think that the domestic quality can
make the story seem all the more extraordinary.” Dick has plenty of experience under his belt, as co-producer of Blind Flight and producer of Steve Hudson’s impressive immigration drama True North. And Outcast gave him the chance to strike up a formative relationship with Irish company Fantastic Films. “Fantastic Films wanted a Scottish producer on board; they really wanted to shoot here and I think the Scots and the Irish share a great affinity. Without making it out to be a race or a memory thing, we’re both small countries on the periphery of Europe,” says Dick. “We were very keen to work together, and hopefully Outcast won’t be the last time we get to come together on a story like this.”
“I think that the domestic quality can make the story seem all the more extraordinary.”- Eddie Dick
made in scotlanD film
“Our dad was from Cork; he had worked in the theatre and really understood the idea of storytelling traditions. We got our interest in storytelling from him, particularly the more gruesome ones.”
Filming supernatural horror film, Outcast, was a potentially tricky assignment; capturing the unique atmosphere of Edinburgh’s housing estates was central to the narrative, but wasn’t necessarily going to be easy for the cast and crew. Director Colm McCarthy, who co-wrote the script with his brother Tom, was pleasantly surprised by what happened when his crew arrived to shoot the film. “Together with my brother, I’d spent some of my early teenage years in Craigmillar, and remembered a feeling, which I think is particular to these types of council estates. They’re isolated from the town and can have a heavy, dark atmosphere which is very different from, say, Edinburgh’s Old or New Towns, which are a lot prettier, both on and off camera,” he says. “When we first arrived, our first night wasn’t particularly happy, and we wondered what we might be letting ourselves in for. As the shoot progressed in Sighthill and Greendykes, shooting near the blocks where we used to stay, we found that the locals were actually very helpful, and kids were always prepared to stand back and allow filming. They seemed really buzzed up that a film was shooting their area, and keen to
learn a little about the film industry for themselves.” Getting that kind of local co-operation was vital, as creating an accurate version of estate life was central to Outcast’s mixture of realism and fantasy. “When you look back into the tradition of storytelling, something like Little Red Riding Hood was written when people were moving to the cities, and didn’t want to live in the forest, so the setting of that story is very much within a group of what we might call outcasts,” he says. “You could also say that Little Red Riding Hood is a story which has a wider meaning than just a fairytale – it can be seen as a cautionary piece about a girl having her period, and being vulnerable to an attack by the wolf. Outcast is about teenage violence and single parent families, but uses the supernatural to deal with elements which might otherwise put an audience off.”
“Our dad was from Cork; he had worked in the theatre and really understood the idea of storytelling traditions. We got our interest in storytelling from him, particularly the more gruesome ones. Outcast is more to do with the adult world than, say, films, which deal with things on a more superficial level like teenage slasher pictures. The kind of horror films which I find interesting are ones like The Shining or Don’t Look Now, films which deal with the adult world,” says McCarthy. “The Shining is more than a ghost story, it’s about dysfunctional families and alcoholism. Don’t Look Now is about what happens when parents outlive their children; it’s not kid’s stuff at all. Slasher movies have stopped working because they’ve not been able to duplicate the great concepts of the early ones.” “I think interest in the current mixture of reality and fantasy, as in Let The Right One In, should give Outcast a chance in the marketplace. We’ve been working on it for five years, and hopefully the time is right for it now.”
For McCarthy, Outcast is less about chiming in with the fashionable cycles of graphic horror than tapping into more primal storytelling traditions.
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Kate DICKIE Kate Dickie ascribes her success to luck, but anyone who has seen her performance in Andrea Arnold’s Cannes winner Red Road will know that good fortune is only part of the story. As CCTV operator Jackie, Dickie gave the performance of a lifetime, complex yet honest, sympathetic, searing and darkly nuanced. It’s the kind of role that every actor aspires to, but few actually get the chance to play. “I was lucky with Red Road in that I was in every scene, so I really got the chance to immerse myself in the role. At the time when we were filming I never really thought about it all, it was more about being as true to the character as possible and going with the flow,” says Dickie. “That meant having to do some uncomfortable and raw scenes, but that's just the way it is as an actor. You have to put yourself to the side and become the person you're playing, go on their journey wherever it takes them. You're not there to judge but to give an honest portrayal. It does mean you have to go to some pretty dark places or make yourself vulnerable at times and that can be hard, but you just get on with it.” Playing Jackie, a woman whose dark obsession leads her to a disturbing sexual encounter with a man she’s never met, is the kind of experience which can leave emotional scars on a performer. But Dickie is philosophical about the requirements of her craft. “With me, I'm fine at the time when I'm playing the role, it's only afterwards when it's finished that I fall apart! It's always good if you've got a month or so after to just be at home and kind of coming round again, if that makes sense,” says Dickie. “I remember after Red Road just feeling shell shocked from it all. It took a good few weeks to get my bearings again and leave the character behind. You can become very attached and protective.” Now Dickie is returning to the role of Jackie for Donkeys, the second in the Advance Party trilogy, with Morag McKinnon directing. “Red Road and Donkeys are both very different films, dealing with the poignancy and pain of life and death but in very different ways. The same characters are in each film but live different lives. In Donkeys, Jackie has a different job, a different life and yet some things are similar, some of her history is 12
similar, and that’s true for all of the characters. Also this time the focus is on Alfred rather than Jackie. So Donkeys is not a continuation of the Red Road story but a separate film in that sense,” says Dickie. x“It's interesting to see how the same characters live in a different worlds and what characteristics are focused on or not. I loved working on both films, both Andrea and Morag were fantastic directors. When I worked on Donkeys, I didn't think about Red Road though - as far as I was concerned this was a completely new character, a completely different film.” Red Road was particularly memorable for Dickie’s work opposite Tony Curran, with sparks flying dramatically when they shared the screen, both performers capturing a dark intensity based on the characters’ back-story. Again, Dickie ascribes her success to luck, this time in terms of the actors she’s had the chance to learn from. “I've been lucky to work with loads of amazing actors, both in theatre and film. There is always something to be learning from your peers. At the beginning of the year I worked with John Lynch (Cal, Some Mother’s Son), who is absolutely brilliant. He has such a presence and truth, and yet a really lovely humble guy off set who made me howl with laughter,” says Dickie. “I watched him in this one scene where all he was doing was sitting on the couch and shutting his mobile phone off, but the tension in the air was crackling.” Another film that Dickie appears in is Caroline Paterson and Stuart Davids' Wasted, the first feature film by Scottish theatre group Raindog, receiving its premiere at Edinburgh International Film Festival in 2009. Her character, Michelle, is one of a number based on true stories about ex-drug addicts, prostitutes and the homeless. “I felt a real connection with Michelle and the other characters in Wasted. Michelle lives in a squat; she’s a drug addict and a sorry soul really. She wants to sort her life out but just can't get it together,” says Dickie. “Wasted is an achingly sad film that really captures both the chaos and the mundanity of homelessness. It's about the people we walk by every day, who don't usually get to have a voice. It will haunt you long after you have seen it.”
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“You have to put yourself to the side and become the person you’re playing, go on their journey wherever it takes them.” - Kate Dickie
Kate Dickie and Nial Bruton
Dickie will also be returning to the big screen in Outcast, the Edinburgh-set horror film from Fantastic Films and Makar Productions, in which she plays the role of Mary. “Mary is a dark, tough woman. She's spent her life on the move and has endured a lot of hardship. Mary and her son have a complex relationship, and when you first see them in the film, they have reached a crucial point in both of their lives,” says Dickie. “It was a great role to play. Mary comes across as pretty harsh at times and can be violent, but of course there are reasons for this as you find out. I didn't approach it any differently from any other project because it’s a horror film.
It was just a matter of understanding Mary's history, which involved magic and rituals, things like that. As long as you believe in your character, who they are and where they've come from, then you have all you need to be true to them, in terms of their actions and words.” “There has to be truth in your character and your understanding of their story, whether for stage or screen. What I'm finding out about is the difference in how you can show it. On screen you can bring it down to a whisper. You only have to let people peek in to see how you feel. In a look, or a stiffening in your body. Whereas on stage, you show a bit more at times. The audience are breathing your air, experiencing it right there with you; there might be three
hundred people you are connecting with,” says Dickie. “I love both forms. But I certainly have lots to learn with film. I still get self-conscious with the intimacy of it all. On Red Road, Andrea was always saying, 'Act less, less, less, just be'. It's so true for both forms. To give the character a voice, you have to just be.”
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Kenny Glenaan’s Summer carried off the Scottish BAFTA for best film at the 2008 awards ceremony, marking him out as one of the nation’s top directorial talents. But the recognition is only the latest stage in a career that began with working in theatre, where Glenaan established his own working methods, methods he’s successfully transferred to his film career. “When you’re working with theatre, you’re working very directly with story and the audience with no technical stuff to get in the way. You’re investigating the lay lines of how the stage works, you’re finding out where the powerful places are, how to direct the audience’s attention from one place to another, and of course you get much more time with the actors,” says Glenaan. “A lot of directors who come through television have a more technical approach; I’ve got more of a performance background.” As well as directing, Glenaan is an accomplished actor in his own right, being nominated for a best actor award for The Cut at the Bush Theatre, London and appearing in Bille Eltringham’s This Is Not A Love Song. His understanding of an actor’s craft has paid off in his handling of talent such as Summer’s Robert Carlyle and numerous non professional actors. “There’s a certain alchemy that happens between an actor and the script, between action and cut. The film
belongs to the actor, so what I’m trying to do is create an environment where the actor can play with the material; I suppose that’s why plays are called plays,” says Glenaan. “You want them to try things out, not so much changing the lines, but improvising emotionally, taking things in different directions. You try and provoke the moment that Lorca called ‘duende’, when two become one in tango. There’s a lot of technical apparatus involved in making a film; there’s 50 people behind the camera, so it’s very easy for the actor to lose control. One of the privileges of being a director is that you’re the first to see ‘it’ happen, and you can walk in and around the story, without the weight of having to play a character. You’re like a conductor of an orchestra, and you hope the actors can use that, and exploit it.” Glenaan is matter-of-fact about his own work, and stresses that his working methods are not prescriptive, but simply what works for him. Having found success on stage, and working in television, he’s now intent on learning an understanding of the craft of bigscreen storytelling. “There’s a thousand ways to tell a story - it’s not about a right or wrong way to do things. In music, who’s to say that bluegrass isn’t as good as the blues - it’s whatever works for you, and the same with film, whether it’s a horror film or a drama. A musician like Muddy Waters
would say that you just do what you do because you do it, using your own voice,” says Glenaan. “I have worked a lot in television; it’s predominantly dialogue led, like a filmed radio play. But I never want to film another MCU (Medium Close Up) again, because you can get stuck in the language. I enjoyed doing things like Eastenders; working with seven cameras live is fairly exciting, but I’m in a different place in my head now.” Glenaan’s breakthrough came with Duck, a short film starring Peter Mullan made under Scottish Screen’s Tartan Shorts scheme. The bleak but darkly funny film was marked by performances of startling naturalism. As Glenaan explains, that success was formed out of a perceived failure with an earlier film. “Before Duck, I did a wee film called The Whirlpool which, to be honest, was ‘a big pound of mince’. I just didn’t know what I was doing at first and was lucky to get another shot at it. My experience of short filmmaking was that it was very competitive. If you make a bad short, you might never get another chance. But, even if your film doesn’t work, you may have learned a vital lesson; I believe that a director should have a licence to fail,” says Glenaan. “It’s tough because directors learn their trade in public; there’s a strong pressure to get it right because of the huge financial obligations which are
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placed on any filmmaker. But, you have to be allowed to experiment, although you have to know why you’re experimenting! You use your family, your history, your experience, how you engage with the world; that’s what you bring to the table - the rest’s technical and can be learned or bought - if you have the budget. The most important thing of all is the right to self-determination, discovering your own voice.” Beyond Duck, Glenaan has directed features Yasmin, Gas Attack and Summer, all of which have won plaudits for getting under the skin of complex characters, including a Scottish BAFTA for Summer. “What really interests me about any story, true or not, is the anthropology of the situation - the living of the day today, what’s going on between the lines. That’s where people reveal themselves. Ideally I’d love to have six months to make a film, and just capture little everyday moments in a near documentary style,” he says. “But in today’s climate, you may well have to work in genre, and that has an effect, because to me, a lot of genre reinforces cliché, and that’s limiting for a director. So you make a choice, this way or that way. Do I want to discover my voice, or imitate someone else’s?” Glenaan’s current project is a particularly exciting one; he’s working with one of Scotland’s most celebrated writers, James Kelman, author of A Disaffection and How Late It Was, How Late. Glenaan looks forward to the collaboration with relish. “I worked with Jim before, in theatre and for a play on Radio 3. I had an idea for a story, which I had pitched to Jim, and he did what any good writer would do - took the idea and ran with it, and created his own story. What’s particularly interesting about his screenplay is that he very cleverly uses genre in a way that you don’t even see, but he still has the same emphasis on character and story. His work is meticulous; he’s a miniaturist in the way he goes about documenting the human experience,” says Glenaan.
“If genre is Abba, then Jim Kelman in John Coltrane. He’s got a talent for screenwriting, which is natural. It’s not something learned - he writes cinematically, in images. And it’s not just his understanding of character, but the way he presents his view of characters from the Scottish diaspora, who have found themselves far from home, and somehow their voices seem all the clearer for that refraction through a different culture.” “That’s the kind of authentic voice that’s worth striving for in your work. We are capable of telling our own stories. We can only understand our experiences if we celebrate both the good and acknowledge the forgotten, and don’t allow other people to write our history for us.”
“There’s a thousand ways to tell a story - it’s not about a right or wrong way to do things.” - Kenny Glenaan
Musicians at Zyedeco festival, Glenaan attended as part of the research for next project, Dirt Road to Lafayette. 15
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Shot in Scotland in 2008, Nicolas Winding Refn’s eagerly awaited follow up to his acclaimed Bronson takes the form of Valhalla Rising, an epic Viking tale co-written with Roy Jacobsen and co-produced by Glasgow-based producer Karen Smyth of La Belle Allee.
Valhalla Rising stars Casino Royale star Mads Mikkelsen as One Eye, a mute slave who falls in with a group of Viking warriors. Taking a break from the grading of the film, Winding Refn, who came to prominence with the Pusher trilogy of films, reflects on a happy shoot in Scotland. “Scotland proved to be exactly the right place to shoot this film; it was able to offer all the different locations we needed for a story which takes place in several different countries,” he says. “That accessibility was key for me. The thing that really shapes the character of this film, in terms of creating its visual quality, is the locations. So shooting here was a win-win situation for me.” Valhalla Rising may have the look of a genuine epic, but Winding Refn managed to achieve it using a relatively small crew. Much as Werner Herzog put his crew through the same jungle torments as his characters in his celebrated Fitzcarraldo, Winding Refn didn’t give his crew much chance to relax in comfort. “I found a mountain at Loch Fyne which I liked so much, I decided that I wanted to take my whole crew to the 16
top of it to shoot. It took two hours to get to the summit at 1100 feet, and that represented a real physical test for everyone involved,” he says. “But using real locations like that was part of the whole concept of the film - it had to be a real experience.” Although Winding Refn doesn’t see Valhalla Rising as part of the Viking genre, he does admit to a fondness of the old Richard Fleischer film, The Vikings, from 1958. But whereas the Hollywood film featured the great Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis, Valhalla Rising features a rather more authentic warrior at heart in Mads Mikkelsen. “I like to think I discovered Mads, and to me, Mads is still Mads. No matter how big a movie star he is, he’s always the same to me,” says Winding Refn. “We had a terrific casting director in Des Hamilton, who also did Bronson, and he helped us get a terrific supporting cast. Getting the right people was vital to make the story and setting believable; Des managed to discover great performers like Gordon Brown, who plays Hagen.” Brown is joined by Scottish actors Jamie Sives and Gary Lewis, as the film
depicts Hagen and One-Eye’s violent encounters at sea and on land. “Valhalla Rising is the story of a mute warrior who escapes captivity and joins a group of Christian Vikings on their way to a holy war. They end up sidetracked and lost in an unknown country,” says Winding Refn. “I was very lucky in that the script fell into the hands of Karen Smyth, a dynamite Scottish producer. She had a creative vision of how the
“Scotland proved to be exactly the right place to shoot this film.”
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- Nicolas Winding Refn
film could be shot, and it was tremendously pleasurable working with her.” “Every time I make a movie, it had to be different. I’m not interested in selfanalysing why I make the films I make - if I did, I’d probably save it for a shrink,” he says. “Film is such a powerful medium, and although making a film, particularly a period film with elaborate make-up effects and costumes, is undeniably hard work, I think a good action film like this will find a good audience. I honestly believe it will.”
Nicolas Winding Refn
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Special effects have a special place in the minds of cinemagoers and Artem is one of the longest established special effects houses in the UK facilities firmament with credits on spectacular films like Reign of Fire, Doomsday, The Brothers Grimm, Hot Fuzz and Babylon AD.
“Artem created the atmosphere and environment demanded by Valhalla Rising in a way we believe has never been done before.” - Mike Kelt 18
To complement Artem’s London HQ, MD Mike Kelt recently enlisted Joanna Dewar Gibb with the task of establishing a permanent workshop for Artem in Glasgow to cater for the FX needs of the most imaginative projects north of the border. Artem’s Scottish workshop resembles a chamber of horrors, with severed heads on the shelves, and body organs carefully stacked. But such props are all just part of the job, in this case, providing the physical effects to the exacting specifications of Valhalla Rising’s Nicolas Winding Refn. “The nature of this project was perfectly suited to Artem's full range of SFX skills, allowing us to respond precisely to the director's very specific creative requests. The SFX we provided on location included fires, wounds, blood and arrow rigs,” says Kelt. “We also produced uncannily realistic human body organs and a severed head - an exact match of one of the key actors - for the more gory
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On the set of Valhalla Rising photos by Francis Lopez
scenes of violence in the film. Without giving any of the plot away, there was one very specific weather effect required for a whole week of shooting. Artem created the atmosphere and environment demanded in a way we believe has never been done before.” Not all of the company’s projects are so gruesome, with another major project taking the rather more genial form of BBC’s Scotland’s CBBC production of Ed & Oucho's Excellent Inventions. This time the clients weren’t film directors, but children. Realising the results, however, requires no less imagination and know-how on Artem’s part. “BBC Scotland created a new series for childrens’ presenter, Ed Petrie, and his cactus friend, Oucho, to bring science to a young audience in an engaging, interesting and fun way. Children from all around the UK submitted ideas for inventions to the BBC and, in turn, the BBC approached Artem's Glasgow team to make the designs into real, practical, if slightly whacky, gadgets with true scientific principles at their core,” says Kelt.
been re-commissioned for a second series, on which Artem's Glasgow team will once again put all of its design and manufacturing skills to the test. Since opening the Glasgow workshop, Artem has lent its pyrotechnic skills to popular series like Dear Green Place, Taggart and River City. As well as Valhalla Rising, the team created incredible prosthetic pieces for Clive Barker’s Book of Blood and the latest Think! road safety campaign. On a day to day basis, more commonly required FX are provided, such as smoke and rain, straight out of the Glasgow workshop; Artem recently bought a large self-contained water tanker truck to bring rain and wet-downs to parts and places that other methods can't reach. Currently the tanker is on its maiden voyage alongside the company’s biggest wind machines and over 10 tonnes of artificial snow helping the Artem team to create enormous blizzards at historic properties in springtime Scotland for German broadcaster ZDF.
“Across Artem as a whole, we have the full range of expertise and SFX pretty much covered. The Scottish workshop is obviously a younger operation, however, with Joanna at the helm, the Scottish team is developing its range of services and skills too. We have plans to expand further now that we know from our clients what services they need most from us. And after the TV drama for ZDF, we’re working with a French team shooting on location in Scotland, as well as working again with Black Camel Productions,” says Kelt, who worked on the company’s zombie horror, Outpost. “I feel that Scottish filmmakers in particular are really putting their heart and soul into getting projects off the ground in very difficult circumstances, and they have to be congratulated for this. It would be nice to think, though, that as the industry evolves, budgets would evolve more realistically also.” www.artem.com
Throughout last summer, Artem’s workshop in Pacific Quay buzzed as 13 inventions were created from scratch to the challenging demands of the childinventors. In each episode, the different inventions were rigorously tried out by the children in front of their family, friends and the camera. The series succeeded in capturing the imagination of children all around the UK and has
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“Wide Open Spaces is a low key comedy drama, although there’s a lot of quirky humour involved, as you’d expect from someone like Arthur Matthews.” - Clare Kerr
Wide Open Spaces “You could say that Wide Open Spaces is a buddy story,” says Clare Kerr, the Scottish co-producer of the comedy film, which gets its first public outing at this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival. “It’s about two guys, Myles and Austin, who have a slackerish lifestyle; they should be getting on with their adult life but can’t quite seem to get on and make their own way. One reason for that is because of their debts, and specifically because they’ve been trying to sell a faked autographed photo of George Best.” The title Wide Open Spaces was previously used for a 1924 silent comedy featuring Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, but the pedigree of this Scottish-Irish co-production is almost an impressive. It’s written by Arthur Matthews, who contributed the lion’s share of the writing on the Father Ted TV series, and stars Ardal O’Hanlon, who played Father Dougal McGuire in the same series. He’s partnered by Ewen Bremner, and there were also Scottish crew-members on the Irish shoot, as well as post-production at Arc Facilities in Glasgow. The co-production with Irish company Grand Pictures was financed by the Irish Film Board, RTE, Scottish Screen and BBC Scotland. Wide Open Spaces is the second feature from Mead Kerr following their 2005 film, Night People. “The two men find themselves hiding in rural Ireland, and end up building an Irish famine theme park. Miles can’t believe that this is how he’s ended up, while Austin is enjoying the routine,” says Kerr. “Over the course of working on the theme park, they encounter some strange local people, and find
that everyone owes money to someone else. Their dodgy boss, Gerard Ring, forces them to become debt collectors, but that doesn’t work out so well because they’re not exactly tough guys, and the cracks begin to show in their relationship.” Shooting in Country Kildare in the freezing cold of December might drain the good humour from any situation, but Kerr feels that the shoot went smoothly, and hopes that the good-natured story of Wide Open Spaces will connect with wide audiences. “Austin is the more vulnerable of the two, while Miles looks after him. Their history together is that they have known each other since they were students, but sometimes it’s harder for a man to break up with his best friend than his girlfriend. You could say that their relationship is a little like the one in Sideways: two odd guys trying to figure out what to do,” says Kerr. “Wide Open Spaces is a low key comedy drama, although there’s a lot of quirky humour involved, as you’d expect from someone like Arthur Matthews. He says you can never tell if a comedy is any good until it’s in front of an audience, so all we can do it hope that people think we’ve got something special here.” www.meadkerr.com
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Ewen Bremner Edinburgh born actor Ewen Bremner made his breakthrough as Spud in Danny Doyle’s Trainspotting, but that was just the start of a long series of serious and comic roles. The poetry-writing eccentric in Harmony Korine’s Julien Donkey Boy, the bagpipe playing mercenary in Welcome To The Jungle and the sexually charged hotel porter in Hallam Foe are just some of the roles that have made Bremner a highly sought after performer, featured in films by Guy Ritchie (Snatch), Michael Bay (Pearl Harbour), PT Anderson (Alien Vs Predator) and Woody Allen (Match Point). His latest role, as Austin in Wide Open Spaces, was an easy choice for Bremner; the character immediately appealed to him on his first read of the script. "The first draft I received really made me laugh," he says, of playing opposite Ardal O’Hanlon’s Myles. “Austin is quite childlike and very enthusiastic about his friend and doing stuff with him. He's impulsive, a bit reckless - he's gotten himself and Myles into a lot of trouble over the years. They've been like a married couple - best friends who have gotten a little too close. He's got a gambling problem and has been going to see a therapist. He's quite naive about
certain things.” As Austin and Myles adjust to their new jobs working at an Irish Famine theme park, Bremner rose to the challenge of playing a character, who finds an unexpected vocation in life. "I think Austin has not really held any kind of job before and has had quite a slothful existence," says Bremner. "This job is outdoors - he's not had any exposure to hard physical work before. At first, it's like a shock to his system - a bit of an assault - but then he enjoys the routine of it. Being able
grown out of it. But over the course of the story, they shed their cocoon." Bremner has become one of Scotland’s most recognisable actors worldwide, turning up in such incongruous settings alongside Matthew McConaughy in sun-drenched Bahamas-set adventure Fool’s Gold. And while returning to the UK to make Wide Open Spaces may not offer quite the same comforts in terms of the weather conditions, he was happy to muck in with the crew and grit his teeth through the freezing conditions on set.
“The first draft of Wide Open Spaces I received really made me laugh.” - Ewen Bremner to come home from work and feel like he's really exercised himself and done something useful and has some kind of purpose." "They definitely care about each other, but there's something quite immature about their relationship in that they're both guys in their thirties and they haven't really left their teenage behaviour behind,” says Bremner. “They're trapped in this little circuit of each other and they've never really
"It's been good - a really good crew, with a great director of photography. All the departments have been really well staffed,” he says. “Good quality stuff. We've not really had any location emergencies or weather emergencies." It may not be quite the climate that he’s accustomed to, but if Wide Open Spaces delivers on its promise, the outlook should be sunny for a while.
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Crying with Laughter
“Screening at the Edinburgh International Film Festival is very, very important to us.” - Justin Molotnikov Director Justin Molotnikov’s first feature, Crying With Laughter, has its world premiere at the 2009 Edinburgh International Film Festival, and stars Stephen McCole as comedian Joey Frisk and Malcolm Shields as his old school friend Frank Archer. Molotnikov and his business partner Clare Mundell have already enjoyed success with CBBC drama Shoebox Zoo, and Crying With Laughter sees them venturing into features in good company; the film is a co-production with Wellington Films, who produced London to Brighton and Better Things. “I was fortunate enough to get into a position to direct my first feature in steps rather than huge leaps. With shorts I was naive and went into it with blinding enthusiasm and hope, and had decent success that led to opportunities in television. There, it was about learning my craft while also proving to myself that I could handle more complex and longer pieces,” says Molotnikov. “If you are at the sharp end of a 26-episode international series with a complex serial arc, cutting edge technology and a cast and crew of over 150 [Shoebox Zoo], and it's a success, you begin to build confidence in your ability.” “For Synchronicity as a company, this film is massively important for us and will define what happens to us in the next few years. We have had a lot of success as a team and as individuals, but as a company we sort of have
to prove ourselves again. This film is a marker by which we will get our next project commissioned, and to a certain extent, the one after that,” says Molotnikov. “As for Wellington, they are a great company to work with and bring their own low budget filmmaking experience to the table, which really complimented our own experience.” Crying with Laughter reunited Molotnikov with actor Stephen McCole, who plays Joey, an actor whom he’d previously directed in TV comedy-drama High Times. “I think that as we get to know him, Joey becomes very sympathetic as a character. It isn't obvious to start with, but I think that is what makes his journey and relationship with the audience much stronger. We live in a society where we find people that make us laugh, or who can laugh at themselves, endearing and attractive, and that is something that allows us to connect with Joey at first,” he says. “Stephen and I have a great a shorthand. We knew exactly what each other was capable of. We got on well, and we had shared interests in exploring improvisation as a form of achieving more truthful characters. He is a fantastic and versatile actor to work with.” The construction of Crying With Laughter featured a degree of improvisation, as befits the subject matter involved.
“It wasn't the sort of film where we went in with a few loose ideas and some rough characters; a lot of the distillation had already happened to get to the script stage, which itself was borne out of improvisation workshops with the main cast,” says Molotnikov. “So we went into the filming knowing a lot about the story, its tone and its characters already, and knowing that we had a tight shooting schedule; but we were also trying to be open to how it feels on the day and how it could be better or more truthful. I'd much rather try something out, rather than stand about talking about it endlessly, as that's what will really tell you whether it works or not.” “Screening at the Edinburgh International Film Festival is very, very important to us, especially given that there is a myth in the UK about there being a lack of talent in Scotland. It gives us and other Scots or Scots based filmmakers an international platform to aspire to, and showcase our work on. There is no lack of home grown content at this year’s festival, which is fantastic,” says Molotnikov. ‘‘Crying With Laughter is not overly violent but has great menace and if you enjoy a bit of black comedy there's something in it for you …” www.synchronicityfilms.co.uk
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Stephen McCole “The first time I actually went on stage, I don’t mind admitting, I sh@t myself.” - Stephen McCole
Well known as an actor, Stephen McCole is now to be seen branching out into comedy. His role as Joey Frisk in Justin Molotnikov’s low budget film Crying With Laughter called for him to play several scenes in a comedy club. And for the dedicated actor that he is, that can only mean one thing; becoming a real stand-up comedian.
does have time for drug and alcohol abuse and various sexual encounters,” says McCole. “When Justin and I were developing the script together, there wasn’t any information about what Joey did for a living, all we had was a first draft full of blank pages which just said things like, ‘Joey meets someone and has a conversation’, so the idea of him being a comic came out of improvisation. But that choice provided me with the crux of why Joey behaves the way he does.”
“The first time I actually went on stage, I don’t mind admitting, I sh@t myself,” says McCole, as he enjoys a somewhat more calming experience, sipping a latte in Glasgow’s Tron Theatre bar. “If I hadn’t done it, I don’t think the part of Joey would have rung true. But when you find yourself in front of a crowd with a microphone in your hand, it’s a strange mixture of terror and excitement that you end up feeling, something very different from a normal piece of acting.”
“We looked at, and took inspiration from comics like Doug Stanhope, Bill Hicks, George Carlin, not so much the Jimmy Carr gag machine style. There’s three key scenes which involve stand-up, one in each act, and they reveal a lot about the state of Joey’s character,” says McCole. “The film itself is something of a character piece about Joey, but it’s also something of a thriller at heart revolving around misplaced revenge. There’s blame involved about an incident in the past, and Joey has a difficult relationship with Frank, played by Malcolm Shields. One can’t remember what happened, and one can’t forget.”
McCole’s credentials as an actor are a matter of popular record. It’s over a decade since his first feature role in Peter Mullan’s Orphans, and since then he’s won plum roles in films like Paul McGuigan’s The Acid House and Wes Anderson’s Rushmore. But the role of Joey Frisk offered a challenge unlike anything he’d previously experienced. “At first, Joey’s not the most likeable character, it’s his relationship with the stage which keeps him going. He’s something of a hedonist; he rarely has time to see his own kid, but he
McCole has kept many of his co-stars amused with his dry wit, but live performance takes a whole lot more than just a few well-chosen barbs.
Working with established acts like popular comedian, Parrot, McCole honed his on-stage persona, while also enjoying the opportunity for improvisation. “There’s a great balance between the comedy and thriller elements, and that can only come about through constant improvisation. I’m a big fan of what people like Shane Meadows do, and it’s very liberating as an actor to have that kind of opportunity,” he says. “There’s nothing better than getting your teeth into a real drama; as an actor, a role like this is an absolute blast. I know I could do the real emotional stuff, that’s your bread and butter. But the stand-up took me in a new direction.” So much so, in fact, that McCole has continued to appear on stage, long after the shoot for Crying With Laughter is complete. “As an actor, it’s good to have creative outlets, and so I still do live improv in a club every week - it’s good for the creative juices,” he says. “I’m also writing with John Rooney, who wrote High Times, the television show I was in, and I’m also working with Bruce Morton and Gary Little on a play idea, based on a true story. Right now is something of a weird time for work, financially or otherwise, and you have to create your own momentum.” 23
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The low-budget feature Wasted sees Stuart Davids and Caroline Paterson of Raindog, branch out into film with a tough story about the love affair between a heroin addict and a prostitute. Based on a theatre production by Raindog, and co-directed by Davids and Paterson, the film was produced by Wendy Griffin, who previously worked with them on the Tinseltown television series.
“I hadn’t seen the stage-play myself, but the idea was to create a film that used the devised nature of the theatre production as a model. The project had been in development for a while, and I’d originally drawn up a budget for it a couple of years previously. When it went into production, we didn’t have a script, but the actors, most of whom had worked with Raindog before, understood the nature of a devised, experimental piece, mainly due to the company’s history and reputation, and were prepared to throw themselves into it.” Featuring a strong cast including Kate Dickie, David Hayman and Gary Lewis, Wasted is an uncompromising depiction of the gritty side of urban life, and Griffin feels that the film will fit into the Scottish realist tradition. “It does have a documentary, realistic feel, and I’m sure people will use the word ‘gritty’ to describe it, but there’s more to it than that. The film also uses flashbacks, which are shot in a very different, slightly surreal style,” says Griffin. “It’s a story about now, and we did a lot of work to research that world, working with organisations like Barnardos’ street team, Teen Challenge and the City Mission. The point of the film is to give a voice to an underclass, and there were various themes and ideas in that direction that came out of our workshops. Not having a script page count to work from, we didn’t really know if we’d have 40 minutes’ worth, never mind a feature, as it was much more organic a process. But it all came together in the edit.” After its premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, Wasted goes to London Film Focus, and Griffin is hoping that the film will be picked up by a sales agent, and reach a wider audience. The film then goes to the respected Karlovy Vary Festival in the Czech Republic. “We’re hoping that the film gets to more European festivals; I think that will really help it find an audience,” says Griffin. “Although seemingly downbeat, it’s also uplifting; Kate [Dickie] told me how much she wanted her character to have a happy ending, but had to resist the temptation to give her one, because the bleak reality for people on the streets is that things rarely work out positively.” 24
“The film gives
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a voice to an underclass.”
– Wendy Griffin 25
made in scotlanD film Running in Traffic
Running in Tr Getting its first screening at the 2009 Edinburgh International Film Festival, Running in Traffic is an emotional drama that focuses on two central characters, who are moments away from an emotionally traumatic experience that will shape their lives forever, much in the spirit of Hollywood dramas Crash or 21 Grams. Financing a low budget film is notoriously hard, and writer/actor Bryan Larkin looks back on Running in Traffic’s difficult gestation process.
“We tried a lot of things, most of which failed, where financing was concerned. We developed a very comprehensive business plan package, and (co-producers) Marc Twynholm and Abigail Howkins approached the top 50 businesses in Scotland for sponsorship and financial assistance. For some, it wasn’t in their remit to fund films and others didn’t respond, but we did get some product placement when Cadbury’s let us use their sweets for free!” says Larkin. “We did have a lot of in-kind support in attaining the fundamentals, such as cheaper hire on equipment and locations.” Three months from shooting, Larkin raised a small amount of finance through an American investor, and both he and Twynholm eventually financed the film themselves through their company, Dabhand Films, allowing cast and crew to be paid, and all the essentials such as catering and hire costs to be covered.
As well as Larkin, the film features veteran actor Kenneth Cranham, Polish TV actress Anna Kerth, Scottish veteran actress Anne Downie, and Atta Yaqub of Ken Loach’s Ae Fond Kiss. The film was helmed by the Director of Glasgow’s Media Access Centre (GMAC), Dale Corlett, and the associate producers are Alcoba Films, GMAC and Stuart Cadenhead. Shooting over six weeks through the Christmas holidays in December 2007, Running In Traffic marked a step forwards in the careers of most of its young cast and crew. “On our project, some of the crew had never worked on features before, and others like our first AD, Stuart, had never done the job before, but was so keen to take on the role that he even went out and got work shadowing other ADs, and heavily researched the job,” says Larkin. “In a way many of the crew were taking
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raffic the opportunity to fast track their career paths, which is admirable and it is how films get made. A true passion for filmmaking can often counteract so many of the other problems you face. You have to adopt a ‘can do’ attitude when you don’t have all the resources, or the luxury of money, when making a film you really want to make. You shoot more creatively and everybody goes home happy.” “There is a tremendous buzz about any new British film premiering in Edinburgh and being in the programme as one of the seven British films premiering in competition is a tremendous achievement for everybody involved,” he says. “Running in Traffic is a Scottish film dealing with human issues and is very marketable. It will give us a great platform to showcase to British and international audiences. From Edinburgh we will be looking to continue the festival run across Eastern Europe and into North America, includingToronto and Sundance.” www.runningintraffic.com www.runningintrafficmovie.blogspot.com
Dale Corlett, Bryan Larkin, Kenneth Cranham and Marc Twynholm
“You have to adopt a ‘can do’ attitude when you don’t have all the resources, or the luxury of money, when making a film you really want to make.” - Bryan Larkin
RedOil made in scotlanD film
hat happens when a socialist revolutionary takes charge of one of the biggest oil reserves in the world? The ongoing drama of Hugo Chavez and his tenure as President of Venezuela has all the intrigue and plot-twists of a good soap opera. That’s the connection that Aimara Reques and Lucinda Broadbent make with their documentary feature Red Oil, which premiered at the Sheffield Documentary Film Festival in 2008. Taking a cue from the central character, a Venezuelan oil company exec, who used to write soap scripts for a living, Red Oil’s witty voiceover plays with the soap genre. Red Oil has proved a hit, not only on the festival circuit, but also through worldwide television screenings. It was ‘pick of the day’ across the UK press with above-average ratings for More4’s True Stories strand. “It’s proof,” says producer Aimara Reques “that documentary filmmaking with a sense of humour and a dash of cheek can reach wide audiences.” Funding partners in the project were UK’s Channel Four, NRK (in another oil28
producing country, Norway), Australian SBS, YLE in Finland and Al-Jazeera English for broadcast across the globe. It’s a Made-In-Scotland film, but it’s no outsider’s piece. “As a Venezuelan myself,” says Reques, who has been working in Scotland for 20 years, “I could contact people that I knew - the kind of people who would not normally be the subject of a political documentary.” “Aimara was very much our secret weapon,” admits Broadbent. “I’ve worked on productions in Argentina, Chile and other countries, but what was different with Red Oil was that she really helped us get under the skin of the story, and what we ended up with is a real tribute to her”. “It was a team effort,” adds Reques. “The vision and experience to make the film came from Lucinda." “We’d made a film together in Venezuela for BBC Four in 2002. It was commissioned as a profile of Hugo Chavez, but a few days after we landed, Chavez was toppled in a short-lived coup, so it ended up telling the story of the coup and Chavez’ extraordinary
return to power,” says Broadbent. It was from contacts made at this time that Red Oil was born. Back In Glasgow, Reques and Broadbent form half of the worker’s co-operative production company, mediaco-op, together with their colleagues, Inigo Garrido and Louise Scott. Mediaco-op’s offices are located on Glasgow Green, in the old Templeton’s carpet factory. It’s a fitting setting to be discussing a film dealing with the struggle of workers and their rights. “I’ve been making documentary films for 18 years,” says Broadbent, “and I’ve got a particular interest in Latin American politics. I lived in Nicaragua during the Sandinista days, and directed my first Channel 4 documentary in Managua. I used to be very starry-eyed about Latin American revolutionaries - I thought Daniel Ortega could do no wrong. But later I made a BBC documentary about Ortega’s fall from grace. I guess I’ve become more critical about power and accountability.” Part of the appeal of Red Oil lies in the impressive cross-section of opinion
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Lucinda Broadbent, Steve Sklair and Aimara Reques
featured in the film, from socialist oil workers celebrating the new policy of The People’s Oil, to the defeated rightwing, alleging that the new regime is running the oil company into ground. In a country that’s historically been oil-rich and dirt-poor, transforming the distribution of the oil wealth, and changing the culture of Latin America’s biggest corporation, is a massive undertaking. “We were interested in the conflicts and dramas in the process,” explains Broadbent. “The stakes were sky-high. The old guard virtually shut down the oil industry to force the elected President out of power. Chavez sacked over 18,000 people when he took control of the oil company. There’s no point pretending that Chavez doesn’t have powerful enemies, or that the new socialist leadership don’t make mistakes, or that they’re immune from corruption.” “People have asked us if it was dangerous to interview dissidents, but there’s great freedom of expression in Venezuela,” adds Reques. “There’s no sanction against speaking your mind.” “I don’t think it takes any great journalistic acuity to realise that Venezuela is very
divided,” points out Broadbent. “It wasn’t hard to find people in the shantytowns, who are disappointed in what Chavez has delivered in the first ten years of his revolution.” “It was a long, slow process raising the co-production finance to make the film, and no one would pretend that it’s been an easy ride. Scottish Screen’s investment was a life-saver for the project,” concludes Reques. “We’re very happy that Red Oil has been so widely seen. When we started media co-op to make documentaries on social issues, the last thing we expected was to make a film about an oil corporation! But Venezuela’s is the only socialist oil corporation on the planet.” www.mediaco-op.net
“Red Oil is proof that documentary filmmaking with a sense of humour and a dash of cheek can reach wide audiences.” - Aimara Reques 29
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“A smaller budget film allows you to fly under the radar.” - Gillian Berrie
Gillian Berrie on Advance Party II After the worldwide success of the highly influential films made under the Dogme rules, Scottish company Sigma Films have recently collaborated with Zentropa on the successful three-film concept Advance Party, initiated by Lars von Trier, Sigma’s Gillian Berrie and Sisse Graum Jorgensen. The project was designed to encourage collaboration between filmmakers, with Lone Scherfig and Anders Thomas Jensen creating characters, which would appear in three films, all played by the same actors. The first was Red Road, directed by Andrea Arnold, which won the Special Jury prize at 2007’s Cannes Film Festival. This year, the second in the Advance Party series, Morag McKinnon’s Donkeys, is expected to follow its predecessor onto the world stage, but Sigma’s Gillian Berrie is already looking beyond Advance Party to another project. “Advance Party II is, obviously, inspired by the first Advance Party, where we were trying to do a low budget film scheme that was something more than that, and we looked towards Dogme because they pretty much ripped up the rule book and created new rules,” says Berrie. “That was groundbreaking, but we didn’t want to do a carbon copy with Advance Party II. So we went over and talked to the Danes, spoke to all the Dogme veterans and they told us how Dogme created a community of creatives from people who had previously worked in isolation. By creating Dogme they found themselves collaborating with their competitiors, and that meant everyone had to raise their game. Creating that kind of situation was the most important thing to me.” Advance Party was an experiemnt, but one which produced immediate results. Andrea Arnold’s Red Road, starring Kate 30
Dickie, won international admirers for its story of a Glasgow CCTV operator who forms an obsession with a local man. “Dogme recognised that for many filmmakers, concerns about budget, equipment, money, facilities and resources were eclipsing what was important about filmmaking - narrative and story. So by stripping away the other factors, it helped them to refocus on what they were doing,” says Berrie. “Advance Party I was an experiment to see if that kind of approach would work in this country, and Andrea’s Red Road absolutely blew our minds. It wasn’t meant to be so successful. And the second film, Donkeys is a very strong story, with fantastic performances.” Taking a new and invigorating approach to film production is one thing, but financing it is another, especially in the current climate. Advance Party II’s larger scale is a partnership between Scotland’s Sigma Films, Denmark’s Zentropa and Ireland’s Subotica, with backing from Zentropa, Scottish Screen, the Irish Film Board, and the UK Film Council. Soon eight directors were committing themselves to making English language films under the Advance Party II banner. “We wanted to start with an intensive workshop on the creative and the business side, looking at things which a first time filmmaker wouldn’t neccessarly have been involved with in the past. If a director is coming from a television or short film background, it’s somewhat easier compared to features. So, when we held our first workshop at the 59th Berlinale, we had a pit stop in Copenhagen to talk with the Zentropa people first,” says Berrie. “Once we got to Berlin, we brought in actors, casting agents, directors, writers
and more, and the first question we asked them was whether having a set of rules was a good idea in the first place. Then we looked at what kind of rules might help or hinder first time feature directors, starting with a day debating the Dogme rules themselves. Some of the directors felt that, as creative people, to have real creative freedom, no rules were needed. But even if a director has done, say, three award-winning shorts, they wouldn’t neccessarily survive a 10 million dollar sci-fi epic; it’s like being sent to your first war and told you’re a general.” With a mixture of enthusiasm and experience, the Advance Party II team discussed the practicalities of first time features, trying to work out what the potential pitfalls are, and how they could be avoided. “We agreed that a first time feature director shouldn’t make a film on too big a budget, because a smaller budget allows you to fly under the radar, and it also means the financiers will be more hands off. Then we asked ourselves whether we were introducing a gimmick into the scheme for no reason? People were coming up with inventive ideas to connect the films, such as advertising tie-ins. We went down that street for a while, then quickly came back up,” says Berrie. In Berlin, the Advance Party II filmmakers thrashed out a set of rules. The scripts would be 90 pages long, have a limited cast of actors, a limited set of locations all within an 8 mile radius, the budgets would be under €1.5 million, and the key sequences would be shot chronologically. “As a first timer, you haven’t got enough experience of breaking the spell and putting it back together,” says Berrie. “The directors themselves
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Advance Part II at Cannes
decided that each script had to be inspired by each other’s dreams, experiences or secrets, and that made them very tight as a group by the end of the sessions.” With a dedicated development person on hand, Advance Party II directors, three from Ireland (Rory Bresnihan, Ciaran Foy, and Steph Green), two from Scotland (Paul Wright and Adrian McDowall), one from Northern Ireland (Enda Hughes), and two from England (Esther May Campbell, Daniel Mulloy), will now take their treatment and then scripts to a series of workshops in a bid to polish their scripts to completion. “The final rule was, that the films must make you laugh, make you cry and have an uplifting ending. That was the very first rule that I imagined: the film industry is littered with one feature directors who end up making very dark films. They don’t appreciate that with 90 minutes, you have to give your audience some kind of satisfation at the end,” she says. “I want 8 fantastic scripts and 8 fantastic films. Presumably there will be fallers, some of the directors may be offered other gigs, who knows what will happen?”
“Advance Party II is a variation on the original model. It’s much more aimed at giving the directors involved a fuller education, looking at questions like, ‘What does final cut mean, and why can’t director’s have it?’, ‘Why do financiers have to approve the cast?’, ‘Why does a director have to sign copyright over to a producer?’. We were lucky with the bond on both Red Road and Donkeys, but we’ve all heard horror stories. We want to make sure that when an Advance Party II director walks onto the studio floor, they have to understand exactly why things are they way they are.” www.sigmafilms.com
the Gap Bridging
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Consider the sporran. The key element of any kilt-wearer’s accoutrements, it’s one item of clothing which is firmly associated with the well-dressed Scot. But the traditional Scottish sporran is being threatened, and the story of this struggle is documented in Jane McAllister’s short film Sporran Makers.
Sporran Makers screens in the 2009 Edinburgh International Film Festival, together with Peter in Radioland, which is made by BAFTA New Talent awardwinner, Johanna Wagner, and is about her father’s struggle to deal with the challenges of modern technology. Both are nominated for the Best Short Scottish Documentary Award.
It’s just one part of the crop of cuttingedge documentary work, harvested by the Bridging The Gap scheme each year. With funding from Scottish Screen’s National Lottery fund, Skillset Film Skills Fund, BBC Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and Edinburgh College of Art, Scottish Documentary Institute’s scheme Bridging the Gap invites suggestions for shorts; in 2009, the theme was ‘future’.
“The standard of films we’ve been involved in is extremely high, and we’ve taken action to keep standards that way. With additional funding this year from the BBC and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, we’re also able to offer for the first time cash prizes of £6000 (for the best British project, open to all filmmakers) and £2000 (for the best Scottish project), at our annual pitch competition, The Edinburgh Pitch, which runs during the EIFF. ”
“This year’s films are nearly finished as we speak, and they’re really exciting. Jane came out of nowhere with her idea about how difficult it is to make a living as a Scottish sporran-maker,” says Sonja Henrici of Bridging the Gap. “The global market place is a tough one, and sporrans are made more cheaply outside of Scotland. While the film looks into the detail of a sporranmaker’s life, it’s also a microcosm examining how globalisation affects all small industries.”
As well as the Bridging the Gap shorts, two of which have won places at Sundance over the past two years (Breadmakers and Steel Homes), Scottish Documentary Institute also plays a crucial role in connecting filmmakers and setting good examples of working practice. Guests and speakers in 2009 included Tulpan director Sergei Dvortsevoy, Etre et Avoir director Nicholas Philibert, script doctor Fernanda Rossi, and the maker of Iraq in Fragments, James
Longley. Financial anxieties in the film industry worldwide pose a real problem to filmmakers, but Bridging The Gap aims to ensure that strength through international connection will enable talented filmmakers to get their voices heard even against economic turbulence. “There have been notable examples of recent feature documentaries, like Franny Armstrong’s The Age of Stupid, which have explored new kinds of financing – such as crowd funding - and been successfully marketed to a wide audience, particularly through social networking and the web,” says Henrici. “But that’s a format which works particularly well with ‘campaign’ films, and perhaps not so well with others. It’ll be interesting to see whether the access that people get to documentary films on the web will help create niche markets, and allow new kinds of funding in the long term.” You can watch examples of Bridging the Gap films on www.doscene.org, SDI’s virtual community hub. www.scottishdocinstitute.com
“The standard of films we’ve been involved in is extremely high, and we’ve taken action to keep standards that way.” - Sonja Henrici
Peter in Radioland
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“We want filmmakers to take a long term view, so that they develop at a steady and healthy rate.” - Paul Welsh
Scottish Digital Shorts talent pool, Sutherland workshop
Once a short film strand, DigiCult has recently been revamped, rebooted and re-launched as a new company with a remit to source, develop and nurture Scottish film talent that goes way beyond producing shorts. Over afternoon tea in Glasgow’s CCA arts complex, DigiCult’s Paul Welsh and Ciara Barry discuss a creative organisation that is evolving and expanding as the nature of modern media changes. “From 2001 to 2006, DigiCult was a short film strand managed by Glasgow Media Access Centre (GMAC),” says DigiCult’s Paul Welsh. “Working with that organisation, we produced many great shorts including BAFTA winners like Chris Waitt’s Dupe and Martin Smith’s Tracks.” “In summer 2008, I formed a partnership with fellow producer David Smith, and we worked together with Ciara on a proposal to run a digital short film initiative. Based on the team’s track record, we successfully secured the contract from Scottish Screen and UK Film Council.” The main part of the contract is the management of the Digital Shorts programme in Scotland. The second was to identify talent for Digital Nation, a UK-wide talent pool for emerging writers and directors. The third strand was to identify and co-commission talent for the 4Mations animation strand. Co-financing comes from Scottish Screen, UK Film Council, BBC Scotland, Highlands & Islands Enterprise (HIE) and also Channel 4 for 4mations. “That’s how we kick-started
life at DigiCult,” explains Welsh. As project producer, Barry has a specific responsibility to make sure that each individual project comes to fruition, and to oversee its development within the context of the wider media landscape. “DigiCult focuses on live action and animation,” says Ciara. “I work with Paul and David to oversee the actual production, which can be quite a tight turnaround: usually a few weeks preparation, then shooting for a week, then a month or two in post production. Budgets vary depending on the complexity of each production.” DigiCult’s call for talent in 2008 took them around Scotland, teaming up with Scotland’s independent cinema programme The Magic Lantern, which included visits to Lewis, Skye and Aberdeen, together with workshops for talent in Sutherland and Cromarty, supported by producer Margaret Matheson and funded by HIE. A second call for submissions is set to begin in the autumn of 2009. “The way we work places a big emphasis on script development. We don’t duck out early from the process, as I think that kind of attention is what makes the big difference with shorts, helping to create a more accomplished piece of work,” says Welsh. “The films have to stand up to the rigours
of being distributed and viewed internationally.” “The key thing about DigiCult is that once we’ve built up a relationship of trust with the filmmakers, we can position directors and writers with the other commissioners. As an executive producer for Digital Nation, we have relationships with 16-20 writers and directors, including Scottish talent like Scott Graham, Johnny Barrington, Zam Salim and Sarah Tripp. They’ve all had three or four short commissions, and are now moving toward a first feature,” he says. “We want to make sure that the talent that comes through DigiCult will find it a rich environment for further development. We want to connect them editorially with the commissioners. Filmmakers need to understand that it’s not about a single commission; we want them to take a long term view, so that they develop at a steady and healthy rate.” www.digicult.co.uk
Photos © Andy Kennedy
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Platform Film Group
Get Real 2
Launched in spring 2009, Brand New is a signature project of Glasgow-based production company, Diversity Films, supported by Scottish Screen, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Scottish Arts Council and 4Talent. The project offers a free, open access community-based filmmaking training programme, where participants who would not otherwise have the opportunity can learn filmmaking skills from professional filmmakers. “Last year we did what was called the Community Film project, but although it did what it said on the tin - and very well so - we didn’t like the title at all, so we’re calling it Brand New instead,” says one of Diversity’s Directors Marie Olesen. “We aim to be inclusive, so we’re reaching out to people, who may have no experience of making films at all, but also to people who’ve had some training but want more. We have three central strands: drama, documentary and community TV, and we’re operating in three areas of Glasgow - Scotstonhill, Govanhill and Easterhouse working to inspire people to tell their own stories on their own terms for a wider audience.” With monthly weekend film schools and weekly evening workshops as its main training delivery model, Brand New also provides free bookable access to HDV filmmaking and editing equipment for their enrolled participants, at the appropriate stage of their project’s development. Although currently limited to around a hundred participants in the Glasgow area, with products ranging from one-minute mini-docs, to short dramas and halfhour documentaries, they’re hoping to expand the programme to include the rest of Scotland. Crucially, the programme is free, eliminating the most obvious barrier between prospective filmmakers and the training they need: finance. “It’s very hard for, for instance, asylum seekers or refugees to tell their own stories with film or television, due to a lack of equipment or facilities in their immediate surroundings. But new technology means that, for the first time, the mechanism for selfexpression can be in their own hands. Things have been substantially demystified recently,” says Olesen.
Get Real 2
“We’re encouraging them to point the cameras at themselves and report their own experiences. For example, we’ve been impressed by the people at Kingsway Eye, a community television project that grew out of our activities. Last year they made a film called Water Damage, about flats that were being badly affected by water leaks. When the film was made and shown, the problem was immediately addressed and solved. That’s the kind of story we find very encouraging, suggesting as it does that making films can make a major difference to people’s quality of life.” “In the future, we’d be keen to look into offering help with areas like graphics and animation, but there’s no point in trying to cover all areas of the media. We’re more focused on doing what we do well. That’s very important when you’re giving people a first step in making film and television,” she says. “It’s not just about showing people how to press record on a camera, or telling them not to shout into a microphone, or presenting them with certificates and diplomas. It is about showering people with positive feedback, and over time giving them the confidence to tell their own stories. That’s what Brand New is all about.”
“It’s about giving them the confidence to tell their own stories.” - Marie Olesen Platform Film Group
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Crab Apple Films Angus Lamont
Angus Lamont’s Crab Apple Films is a recipient of Scottish Screen slate funding, and is currently developing a range of feature film projects. Lamont developed and produced Saul Metzstein’s Late Night Shopping and more recently produced the controversial teen thriller Donkey Punch for Warp X. “Mark Herbert at Warp X is great to work with. He has a clear vision for making films in the UK and is smart and hungry. I’ve also had a long association with Robin Gutch at Warp X and he’s a tremendous ally and collaborator. It was a natural step for us to work together on new projects of common interest and the Scottish Screen Slate funding is allowing us to do that.” “Our tastes are actually quite different but there are key similarities. We’ve been around the block a few times but are still determined to keep making high quality feature films from a non metropolitan base.” The first project on the slate is based on a short story by Mark Millar. This project joins an existing group of projects utilising Scottish talent, both established and emerging. “We’re developing a teen thriller called Clever, to be directed by Jim Gillespie. We’ve also got a project called The Darkest Hour with playwright David Greig, and a coming-of-age story called The Young Ambassadors, written by John MacLaverty,” says Lamont. “It’s tortuous
and elongated but I actually enjoy the development process. Clever, for example, has been in development for several years. You have to accept that some projects may be long in gestation, even when they are going well.” The R&D phase in any industry inevitably involves a certain amount of speculation but even in testing economic times, Lamont is upbeat about the future for Crab Apple Films. “It’s always difficult to produce a feature film, no matter where you are based, but we’ve definitely felt it to be a benefit being in Glasgow rather than London. I talk to colleagues in other parts of the UK, especially in London, who are surprised, and slightly envious, at the amount of support we get. Everyone is searching for the best way to get films financed and it’s been interesting in recent times to see how influential national and regional film funds have been.”
“It’s always difficult to produce a feature film, no matter where you are based, but we’ve definitely felt it to be a benefit being in Glasgow rather than London.” - Angus Lamont 35
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“That was a year ago now and since then we’ve been developing the script together,” says Black Camel’s Arabella Croft. “However, much of the funding for the production has come from the writer/director’s native Nigeria, and that enabled us to move swiftly when we had a window with Idris [Elba, The Wire’s Stringer Bell]. We are working on a low budget, but have attracted a very exciting British and US cast, including Eamonn Walker (Moses Jones), Monique Curnen (Dark Knight, Half Nelson), Clarke Peters (The Wire), Richard Brake (Hannibal Rising, Batman Begins) and Julian Wadham (Outpost, Madness of King George).
hen aspiring writer/director Thomas Ikimi placed an advert in UK film magazine Total Film, he was looking for finance for Legacy, a psychological thriller that follows the journey of a Black Ops soldier in his quest for revenge and redemption. The advert was answered by partners, Kieran Parker and Arabella Croft (pictured above) of Black Camel Pictures, the Scottish production company who produced Outpost, a Nazi-zombie film featuring Rome star Ray Stevenson.
Legacy’s shoot took place, as did Outpost, in Film City Glasgow and Dumfries and Galloway, which was also the setting for classic Scottish horror The Wicker Man. To Croft, returning to Dumfries was an ideal choice for the Black Camel production team. “Dalbeattie Munitions factory is just such a great location, perfect for our needs. After having such a positive experience making Outpost, we thought it might work for Legacy too. Mark Geddes, the Film Commissioner at South West Screen was highly instrumental in attracting us to the region. We are really grateful for his support and encouragement,” says Croft. “Outpost certainly set a high standard for us and showed what can be achieved commercially with zombies from Scotland! There is a real wealth of talent available here – we love our crew
base and heads of departments, and have grown to really trust them. Ideally we’d make as many of our projects here in Scotland as we can.” With worldwide interest in horror showing no signs of letting up, Black Camel look set to continue with their work within the genre. “Hopefully it will be a good year for the company. Production has begun on Legacy and we’re launching Outpost II: Black Sun in Cannes with Content Film International, so we’re hoping that will shoot before the end of the year,” says Croft. “We’ve also got a couple of bigger projects, including Blood Makes Noise, Steve Barker’s vampire thriller, and a mountain action adventure Breathe, which is in the final throes of development. Let’s hope it stays busy!” www.blackcamel.co.uk
“There is a real wealth of talent available here in Scotland.”- Arabella Croft 36
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Idris Elba, Legacy
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Edinburgh International Festival Film Festival The 2009 Edinburgh International Film Festival is settling into its new June berth in the festival calendar. And looking forward to her third festival is EIFF Artistic Director, Hannah McGill, who works all year to ensure that there’s the highest possible standard of cinematic entertainment on offer. She took a break from preparing the 2009 programme to provide her own personal guide to this year’s festival. “It’s hard to chose one particular favourite. As director, you end up with such a emotional investment in the whole programme,” she says. “But if I was advising people what to see, I’d suggest they do what I do when I get a festival programme: seek out films they might not have heard of, particularly ones which they might never get a chance to see again on the big screen.” It’s not easy to select individual films, but there’s a few which have already singled themselves out as particularly intriguing prospects. 38
“There’s Baraboo, which is by Mary Sweeney, David Lynch’s long term collaborator, a beautiful film we’re very privileged to have the world premiere of. And from Australia, there’s Jonathan Auf Die Heide’s Van Diemen’s Land, the true story of Alexander Pearce, Australia’s most notorious convict,” she says. “And I’m also very pleased that we’re showing Moon, which stars the wonderful Sam Rockwell as an astronaut, and marks the directorial debut of Duncan Jones, the son of David Bowie.” This year’s retrospective honours one of the most influential filmmakers alive, the incomparable director, producer and occasional actor, Roger Corman, while other directors attending including Joe Dante and Darren Aronofsky. And there’ll be a retrospective looking back at the work of television director John McKenzie and writer Peter McDougall. “It’s a nail-biting part of the process for everyone at the EIFF when we’re trying to pin down the final programme, but it’s very exciting when you finally get everything sorted, says McGill. “As well as honouring great work from the past, we’re also keen to showcase younger filmmakers; we’ve got animation Mary and Max, the feature debut by Adam Elliot, who won an Oscar for his animation Harvie Crumpet. And we’ve got The Girlfriend
Experience, a new experimental film by Steven Soderbergh about a highclass prostitute and how she’s making her living in the days before the 2008 presidential election. It stars real-life porn star Sacha Grey; you can quickly find out what kind of films people watch when you mention her name to people...” With new work from Scottish director David Mackenzie in the form of his Ashton Kutcher drama Spread, Gael Garcia Bernal re-teaming with his Y Tu Mama Tambien co-star Diego Luna for soccer flick Rudo Y Cursi, Robin Wright Penn in Rebecca Miller’s The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, Guy Pearce and Ralph Fiennes in Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker, plus sidebars on 3D technology and exhibition, and a visit from Lord David Puttnam, and you’ve got what is traditionally referred to as a ‘packed programme’. “Once the programme is released, it’s very exciting looking forward to all the different events and screenings,” says McGill. “I’ll need to lie down in the proverbial darkened room afterwards, or at least crash out with a Gray’s Anatomy boxed set, but that’s just the way it should be after you’ve worked your socks off at a festival like this.” www.edfilmfest.org.uk
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The Private Lives of Pippa Lee
The Hurt Locker
“I’d advise people to seek out films they might not have heard of, particularly ones which they might never get a chance to see again on the big screen.”-Hannah McGill
Van Diemen’s Land Adam Elliot:Mary and Max
Baraboo The Girlfriend Experience Moon
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It may only be five years old, but Glasgow’s Film Festival is already making a big noise. The festival’s codirectors Allison Gardner and Allan Hunter talk about giving Glasgow’s film-goers a true festival experience. Once you get into the swing of it, visiting a film festival is an experience that promises pure enjoyment for anyone with a passion for cinema. Allan Hunter is one of the UK’s premiere film journalists, while Allison Gardner programmes the Glasgow Film Theatre. Together, they both know well the feeling of beating the streets around the Croisette in Cannes, or traversing the canals of the Lido for Venice, or the wide streets of Toronto. In their third year as co-hosts of the Glasgow Film Festival, Hunter and Gardner are all about bottling the spirit of the festival experience for audiences to share.
Photographer: Stuart Crawford
“We’re lucky enough to go to Toronto or Cannes, and what we feel we can do with the GFF is to give people a taste of that festival experience. We’re an audience-based rather than industrybased festival, and having a broad choice of films helps us to broaden horizons,” says Gardner. ‘‘For us, the film festival is all about the audience, and I’m pleased to say we were up
25%, and are now at the 25,000 mark. We’ve worked hard to do that, and getting a larger audience depends on offering a highly competitive programme, as well as a broad programme with everything from extreme music video to blockbuster films.” “I’d like to think people feel some kind of ownership of the festival,” says Hunter. “After all, we can put forward a selection of films we think are worth seeing. The audience are the ones who are actually programming their own days viewing, so you could say that the way the festival has developed over the past few years reflects the way that the festival-goers have programmed it. Audiences do take chances, and they spread the word when they think something is good.” As well as their central base at Glasgow’s GFT, and Cineworld, the GFF has expanded to shows at The Grosvenor and the CCA, as well as venues like The Arches, The Mitchell Theatre, or The Tramway, which for 2009’s festival hosted an animation exhibition. And the programme itself features fare as diverse as John Crowley’s Is Anybody There?, Richard Jobson’s New Town Killers, Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino, and Charlie
Kaufman’s Synedoche New York. “Obviously, it was great to see full houses for such a well received opening film like the UK premiere of Armando Iannucci’s In the Loop,” says Hunter. “But we’re just as proud to find audiences for smaller films like Cherry Blossoms, or Rabbit Without Ears, or El Dorado, a great little road movie from Belgium.” As well as an Audrey Hepburn retrospective, the festival has a growing schools and education programme, ensuring that young people learn quickly about the kind of festival experience GFF offers. “We’re open – we have no particular policy about where a film might have shown before. The main things for us is to have a high quality threshold, and then we work out whether there might be an audience out there for it,” says Gardner. “I’m passionate about the films I see. I’m hoping to share that passion with the people who continue to come to the festival. And tell their friends.” Glasgow Film Festival will return in February 2010. www.glasgowfilmfestival.org.uk
Allison Gardner and Allan Hunter
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“A broad choice of films helps us to broaden horizons.” - Allison Gardner Opening Night with In the Loop
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In August 2008, the tiny Scottish town of Nairn hosted Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams, a film festival co-curated and organised by Oscar-winning actress Tilda Swinton and critic/producer Mark Cousins. Ballerina Ballroom, a disused former ballroom and bingo hall, played host to screenings of classic films ranging from Singin’ in the Rain to Fassbinder’s The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, together with Scottish classic The Bill Douglas Trilogy. Funding for the informal event, which hosted 400 guests, came from Swinton herself, Scottish Screen, Highland Council, BFFS Scotland and local cultural body Hi-Arts. "It would be totally impossible to do the work that Tilda and I do without the support of Scottish Screen. It's a simple as that,” said Cousins. “Not many film agencies in the world are so enlightened about the need for innovation in exhibition." And in March 2009, The Scottish Cinema of Dreams went to China to showcase Scottish films to audiences in Beijing. The British Council and Scottish Screen backed Cousins and Swinton to hand pick a compact programme of films spanning six decades of Scottish cinema, including the definitive Scottish pastoral tale I Know where I’m Going and Norman McLaren’s stop-motion animation Neighbours. From a standing start, the Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams has already made a name for itself, at home and abroad. And with another Nairn event scheduled for 2009, it looks like a brand which is here to stay. 42
Mark Cousins and Tilda Swinton
“This is a happening inspired entirely by a love of film. We have nothing to sell, no industry to serve, no studios to placate,” said Swinton. “We wanted the festival to serve as a reminder that cinema exists outside of the multiplex, that going to the pictures is more than just a question of checking into the latest oversold commodity, that having a favourite film, like discovering a new one, is part of life's true riches, at whatever age you discover it, for whatever reason, and that treasure lasts forever.”
Wth the press in Beijing
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Audience with programme
Outside the cinema in Nairn
Africa in Motion In a report by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics released in May 2009, it was claimed that the Nigerian film industry, popularly referred to as Nollywood, has overtaken the United States in terms of number of films produced, and is thus now the second biggest film industry in the world after India's Bollywood. With Nollywood still being very much an industry for local consumption, predominantly drawing anglophone African audiences, films from other African regions, such as Gavin Hood’s Oscar-winning South African film Tsotsi and Marwan Hamed’s Eqyptian film Yacoubian Building, are finding worldwide popularity.
The world of African cinema is extremely diverse and it is this diversity and variety of film culture that the Africa in Motion film festival reflects for the benefit of Scottish audiences. “I think there have been times in the past when African cinema has been excluded from the history of world cinema. That’s one of the reasons that a festival like this exists,” says Lizelle Bisschoff, Director of the festival. “Despite this marginalisation of African cinema historically, things are changing. Statistics from the UK Film Council show that only 10 African films were released commercially in the UK between 2000 and 2005, of which 9 were European or American
co-productions. Now there’s a much stronger representation on UK cinema circuits, and, like the production of films 44
within Africa itself, that representation is steadily growing.”
Based around screenings at Edinburgh’s Filmhouse, Africa in Motion has featured classic films from francophone West Africa, such as the work of Senegalese director Ousmane Sembene and Malian director Souleymane Cissé, as well as films from the digital videofilm industries of anglophone countries such as Chucks Mordi and Kingsley Kerry’s Nollywood film Bleeding Rose, and Josiah Kibira’s Tanzanian film Bongoland II: There Is No Place Llike Home. Guests have included highlyacclaimed Burkinabe director Gaston Kaboré; Nigerian filmmaker, presenter and writer Zina Saro-Wiwa; and cult South African director Richard Stanley. But Africa in Motion looks to Ezra be more than just a selection of the best of African cinema, with a range of complementary events to include the audience in the on-screen culture. “The festival aims to be as diverse as possible, from a children’s animation event in which kids made their own animation film, to an exhibition of the art and jewellery of the Southern African bushmen in last year's festival,” says Bisschoff. “And this year, like last year, we’ll have a sponsored competition in our short film strand, with the goal of discovering and supporting young, emerging African filmmakers.” “You could say that the development
of the film industries in Africa is shaped by their colonial legacies; it was something that was consciously created by, for example, France in their ex-colonies,” says Bisschoff. “Britain did not do much to develop the cultural industries in its ex-colonies after independence. Nollywood grew pretty much out of a DIY approach, by applying cheap and accessible digital technology and distributing local content to local audiences. Today Nollywood is the only economically self-sustainable film industry in Africa. African filmmakers from all over the
continent are increasingly making use of digital technology – a low-cost, viable alternative to traditional filmmaking practices. Who knows where it will go from here?” www.africa-in-motion.org.uk
“There have been times in the past when African cinema has been excluded from the history of world cinema.” - Lizelle Bisschoff
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“We saw the festival as a chance to have other views aired other than the ones that many mainstream outlets most commonly voice.” - Paula Larkin
Document The Document Film Festival is an annual event, inviting submissions from local and international documentary filmmakers on the subject of human rights. The only festival of its kind in Scotland, 2009’s Document 7 follows in the footsteps of its predecessors by investigating many areas of modern life that other forms of media are unprepared to venture into. “This year’s central themes will be poverty and the environment. We’re coming from Scotland and specifically Glasgow, a place with a long history of activism and documentary filmmaking; that’s the culture Document comes from,” says Development Worker, Paula Larkin. “The festival began in 2003 when Programme Co-ordinator Mona Rai and I got together and screened 40 documentary films at the UGC cinema in Glasgow. She had just come back from Eastern Europe, and we shared a concern about the way that asylum seekers were being portrayed in the media. We saw the festival as a chance to have other views aired other than
the ones that many mainstream outlets most commonly voice.” “Refugees and asylum seekers at the time were being given a generally bad press, and we wanted to combat the negative media portrayals and educate the public about the truth of what was going on,” says Rai. “Now the festival has diversified to cover human rights issues from all over the world. And we’ve made contact with other human rights festivals around the world too, which has led to films we’ve been particularly happy to show like Three Rooms of Melancholia, which deals with the effects of the Chechen War, or Between Heaven and Earth, which looks at human rights in Uzbekistan.” As well as inviting submissions from both first time and experienced documentary filmmakers, Rai and Larkin have broadened out their definition of human rights to include areas such as human traffiking, mental health and social care, workers rights, immigration and asylum. And
as Rai points out, the importance of the festival’s work shows no sign of abating. “It was the plight of Roma migrants, and issues like the treatment of Kurds that encouraged us to start Document. These are issues which are just as relevant today,” she says. “Issues like Palestine and Israel are still just as important as they ever were, and that’s why Document is a festival with increasing role to play in terms of sharing information about what’s happening around us.” www.docfilmfest.org.uk
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Everyone has a right to dream; going to the cinema is something that everyone enjoys, but it’s not quite so easy to locate big-screen entertainment in, say, the Shetland Islands. But after heroic efforts over more than a decade the construction of a new £10 million cinema, arts and music centre in Lerwick has started. How that cinema will function when it opens late in 2010 has been part of the remit of Ron Inglis, newly appointed Director of Regional Screen Scotland. “Since Scottish Screen created their exhibition strategy based around city hubs, I’ve wanted to be able to reach out to areas of the country which have poor or no cinema provision, like many rural and coastal towns. So our main job is to act as a development agency, respond to requests for information and provide detailed consultancy,” says Inglis. “If someone is thinking about setting up a digital cinema or film club in, say Perthshire or the Borders, we’ve got many years’ of cinema experience and are available to help. Recently we’ve been offering grants of up to £5000 pounds to groups and communities who want to set up their own film society or community cinema, and we’re now providing similar grants to local film festivals. We want Regional Screen Scotland to be an organisation that people can turn to for that kind of assistance. Even if we can’t always help them directly, we can show them where to go for assistance.”
And it’s not just crime-fighting superheroes who have custom-made vehicles to help them do their jobs; Regional Screen Scotland has its own specially designed transport in the form of the Screen Machine 2, an 80seat mobile cinema taking the likes of Slumdog Millionaire and Mamma Mia! to the remotest areas of Scotland. “The Screen Machine was the one major item I inherited when I took on the job, and I’m keen to ensure that it’s something that flourishes and develops. Alongside its regular tours of the Highlands and Islands, we can take it on the road to support individual festivals and events and we’re also making it available for commercial and private hire,” says Inglis. “The Screen Machine does a job that cannot be done any other way – it takes a true cinema experience to remote communities. But we are especially keen to see full-time cinemas developed so that local audiences have both a choice of programme and a choice of day and time when they go to their cinema. There are many smaller and even medium-sized towns in Scotland that don’t have this level of provision right now. It is a situation that Regional Screen Scotland intends to play a part in changing.” And for the future, the advent of digital screens, including 3D cinema, offers new opportunities for cinema development in smaller towns and rural communities. “It’s too early to say how 3D will impact on cinema attendance
in the long term, but the increasing diversity that’s potentially on offer through 2D and 3D digital screenings, should mean that a range of audiences can see the kind of films they want to,” says Inglis. “As a development agency we want to work with cinema operators, from multiplexes to independent cinemas to film clubs,” says Inglis. “We’re particularly keen to support cinema owners who want to develop new audiences; cinemas like The Rex in Berkhamsted, The Station in Richmond and The Kino in Hawkhurst have done that with great success, and the same could be done to transform the programming, facilities and cinemas here in Scotland.”
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â€œWe are especially keen to see full-time cinemas developed so that local audiences have both a choice of programme and a choice of day and time when they go to their cinema.â€? - Ron Inglis
Inside Screen Machine Eden Court
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From Russia with Love
â€œGoing to the cinem is very different
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This Sporting Life
aking its name from what is traditionally Glasgow’s most prestigious business area, film distributor Park Circus is a forward-thinking company, working primarily with back-catalogue releases.
Recent Park Circus releases include movies as diverse as Vittorio de Sica’s Bicycle Theives, Billy Wilder’s The Apartment, Robert Wise’s The Sound of Music and Sam Peckinpah’s Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia. Two of 2009’s releases, Michael Powell’s The Red Shoes and vintage James Bond extravaganza From Russia With Love, demonstrate the different kinds of film that Park Circus is confident can find an audience today.
With the advent of digital cinema making considerable changes to the way that classic films are booked, programmed and screened, Park Circus started out handling the back catalogue of ITV Global Entertainment (then Granada International). Now, Nick Varley and John Letham, Park Circus’ joint Managing Directors, represent a catalogue currently encompassing over 10,500 titles from Arrow Films, Film4, Icon Entertainment International, ITV Global Entertainment, MGM/United Artists, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, UK, and most recently, Sony Pictures Repertory.
“It would be fair to say that there’s always a restoration of The Red Shoes on the go, but now we have the technology to create brand new negatives as good as the original print, and clean up the soundtrack to the same standard,” says Varley. “It should look as good, if not better, than the original premiere print. So The Red Shoes has just undergone a huge film restoration project organised by the BFI, ITV and the UCLA film foundation, with the involvement of two of the film’s great champions, Martin Scorsese and his regular editor, Powell’s widow Thelma Shoonmaker. It’s a 4K digital restoration; you can bet that if Scorsese likes it, it’s bound to be good.”
“To do a proper re-release, the quality has to be better than just any old print. If people want to see Taxi Driver, they want to see a beautiful restoration, so our re-releases are the highest quality digital prints possible,” says Varley. “We work with the technical departments from each studio and together we try to work out what audiences might want to watch. So if, as recently happened, the BFI say to us that they want to do a Broccoli retrospective, we can do a restoration of From Russia With Love: that’s something which we can then sell to exhibitors. Whether it’s screening When the Wind Blows in France, or Easy Rider in Australia, what we do is very much exhibitor and audience led.”
“People do sometimes tell us that a restored film is now the way they expect it to be, or is different from how they remember it,” says Letham. “Watching From Russia With Love again, it’s the skillful pacing you really notice; there’s so much more emphasis on narrative than the action of the newer Bond films like Quantum of Solace.” Park Circus’ programme for 2009 features some choice releases, from The Red Shoes to Lindsay Anderson’s This Sporting Life, and Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather. Part of the secret of the success of such reissues is that the films are booked into large, digital screens, with state of the art sound systems, showing the film to its very best advantage. “It was great for us to show Casablanca, White Christmas, Grease or the Bond films on the big screen. Going to the cinema is a communal thing; seeing a film with 300 people is very different to watching it at home. We can get 10,000 people on a oneday screening on 60 to 70 screens,” says Letham. “Our UK releases are probably the most visible representation of what we do, but we’re also about but licencing the screenings of all the films we represent,” adds Varley. “We could be licencing a matinee screening of Bolt or a screening of Taxi Driver at a Korean film festival. Whatever we’re showing, we’re proud that studios want us to licence their films, and we’re proud to do it for them.” www.parkcircus.com
ema is a communal thing; seeing a film with 300 people to watching it at home.” - John Letham
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cottish Screen’s Location Department manager Belle Doyle is just back from the 2009 Locations Expo in the sunny LA suburb, Santa Monica. Taking part is such a glitzy industry event might sound like fun, but Doyle knows that it’s the nitty-gritty of business that counts. “It’s not good news to many people that the pound is weak in the UK just now, but in terms of attracting productions to come and shoot here, it could just work to our advantage,” she says. “Quite often we find that if the London studio-space is busy, then we get a spin-off from that, but you have to remember that even if work comes into the country, Scotland still has to compete with other areas of the UK.” No sooner has Doyle emptied her suitcase that she’s filling it up again, with the Cannes Film Festival the next stop on the horizon, and another important one in terms of maintaining the profile of Scottish locations.
The Scottish stand in Cannes
“Having a stand in the UK Film Centre in the International Village is usually a great source of getting enquires, and through that, we can find out what kinds of projects are hovering around. When projects do come here, it’s not just because Scotland offers some attractive locations. It’s also because of the hard work that goes on behind the scenes, making sure that the crew are properly catered for, and the individual locations are tailored to the needs to the production,” says Doyle. “It’s no good if the crew have to make a 100 mile round trip to get to the set. So no matter what sentimental feelings people have shooting in Scotland, ultimately they won’t come unless we have the right deal to offer.” The projects are out there. Peter Mullan’s third feature Neds looks set to shoot in Glasgow, with the emphasis on capturing the 1960’s/70’s period. Going much further back in time are two other potential big-budget shoots: Kevin Macdonald’s The Eagle of the Ninth due to shoot around Loch Lomond, and Doomsday director Neil Marshall’s Centurion, which has just finished shooting in the Highlands. “The Roman projects require unspoiled locations, and we are lucky to have plenty of them, so Scotland’s an ideal choice for these kind of films. We have a huge diversity of locations, and our job is to make sure that every project is accommodated for as well as we possibly can.” www.scottishscreenlocations.com
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Tontine Lane, Glasgow
Beach on Uist - courtesy of James MacLetchie
“No matter what sentimental feelings people have shooting in Scotland, ultimately they won’t come unless we have the right deal to offer.” - Belle Doyle
B976 Road to Gairnshiel, Courtesy of Scottish Viewpoint
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“Assisting and nurturing talent is key for us.” - Tiernan Kelly Creating a full production facility and ideas factory is not an easy task, but Glasgow’s Film City studios have now completed the third stage of redevelopment at their site, ensconced in the 65,000 sq ft building that was once Govan’s Town Hall. “Film City is a great example of indigenous ideas and talent being supported by local strategic partners on an ambitious level,” says Film City’s General Manager, Tiernan Kelly. “The project got off the ground when Gillian Berrie of Sigma Films, frustrated with the lack of facilities available in Glasgow, looked to the Danish Film industry for inspiration, most significantly, to Filmbyen, a media hub created by Zentropa Films in decommissioned army barracks on the outskirts of Copenhagen.” With help from Glasgow City Council, and local economic development agency Scottish Enterprise Glasgow, and with additional assistance from the European Regional Development Fund, £3.5 million was raised to redevelop the town hall into a state of the art production facility. “In addition to production offices and studio space, Film City houses two of Scotland’s leading post production companies, Savalas (audio post), and Serious Facilities (picture post),” says
Kelly. “Brought on board at an early stage, both companies have been given the chance to have an input on the design of purpose-built, state of the art post-production facilities.” So far, feature films shot wholly or partly at Film City include Sigma Films’ Red Road and Hallam Foe; Black Camel’s zombie horror Outpost; Mob Films & Infinity Features’ Stone of Destiny, Hadrian Productions’ Doomsday; and Viking epic Valhalla Rising. 2009 sees the return of Black Camel for Legacy, with The Wire’s Idris Elba and Clarke Peters, and the new Peter Mullan project, Neds. But such success only comes from an appreciation of how Denmark’s film industry works. “Film City is the antithesis of an insular, fragmented production community,” says Kelly. “The example of the industry in Denmark is a good model; we hope to apply the same innovation and irreverence to what we do. Sigma Films is the ideal partner: they themselves are a micro ideas factory, with projects like Advance Party I and now II, demonstrative of successful collaboration on an international level. The prospect of up to 20 other screen and creative businesses under the one roof with the same mindset and desire to create, is tantalising.”
And while Scotland’s film talent has been making waves internationally for decades, having a practically orientated studio facility should provide a crucial stepping stone to creating an environment where the talents of tomorrow can flourish. “Assisting and nurturing talent is key for us. The low cost rental model has we are working to allows us to offer affordable accommodation to those emerging in the industry, and the invaluable opportunity to work and collaborate alongside established industry professionals. This incubation concept, if applied in the correct way, can only add impetus and energy to the building,” says Kelly. “The very existence of such a facility in Glasgow engenders confidence, belief, and in turn, investment, in the indigenous industry, and benefits the deep pool of creative and technical talent we have in the country.” www.filmcityglasgow.com
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In 1998, four friends with a passion for sound came together to work with like-minded clients who would benefit from their combined creative and technical skills. Savalas post production facility, based in Film City Glasgow, provides state of the art sound-post services for the whole of the screen industries, and work with clients across the UK and beyond. Recently, they were recognised as a Premier sound facility by Dolby (the first in the UK and the only one in Scotland), an impressive endorsement for the company, whose range of work is expanding with the services they now provide. Founding Director, Kahl Henderson says, “The ability to mix feature films in our own facility was a huge goal for us. After more than five years of planning and 18 months construction… we did it.” “This year has been incredible for us,” says founding Director, Giles Lamb. “We’re just completing Nicolas Winding Refn’s, Valhalla Rising. Nicolas was really keen for us to rip up the rulebook. If it had been done before, he wanted us to do something else, and that’s the
approach we’ve taken. Foley artist, Michael MacKinnon, escaped from the conventional confines of our foley stage and recorded much of the film’s foley outside. He and foley recordist, Iain Anderson, headed out to remote locations all over the west of Scotland to record, amongst other things, footsteps, boats and mud wrestling. Choosing perhaps the wettest spring in the last ten years made it an incredibly authentic experience for both of them.” Savalas’ individuality is further acknowledged by being the only facility in Scotland to offer complete sound-post. And their partnership with Serious Facilities, based in the same location, means that, between them, they are the only independent facility, who can provide complete post production for television drama. “The BBC3 drama, Personal Affairs, was a perfect example of our relationship with Serious really working,” says Henderson. “Together, we supplied our own Post Supervisor as part of the package and that made things really work on the day to day. Having never had the luxury of the picture-post being literally down the corridor, it didn’t take much to convince me that the Serious/Savalas connection was something that clients would love.”
Savalas like to be involved in projects from inception and see the process as very much a collaborative one with clients. Testament that the client experience is a good one is the fact that they return to Savalas time and time again. Lamb says, “People do business with people. Savalas understands this, recognising that in our industry, clients often choose to work with specific sound designers, editors and mixers with whom they have established a trusted creative relationship. At Savalas, it’s the people who make the real difference.” By appreciating that their main resource is the Savalas team, time is taken to invest in each individual. Mentoring, education and personal development play a huge part in ensuring that every team member is a true craftsman. Lamb says: “Their dedication and commitment to making every project a success through a relentless pursuit of perfection, feels effortless.” Through successful collaboration and the team’s dedication, Savalas is at the top of it’s game, enjoying the creative challenges that being the largest sound post-production company in Scotland brings.
“At Savalas, it’s the people who make the real difference.” - Giles Lamb
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“We are ideally placed to offer production companies coming to Scotland an unparalleled range of services and talent.” - Simon Cull
Serious Facilities Since being set up by Simon Cull in 1998, Serious, now based in Film City Glasgow along with Savalas, has expanded to become a complete post production facility. Over the years many programme makers in Scotland have had to look to London to finish their projects. However, with large scale investment in equipment and staff, Serious can finally offer productions the chance to work on their own doorstep. As Simon Cull says: “The move to Film City was a big turning point for us. We were committed to providing high end post production in Scotland and we made big investments in order to do so.” One of those big investments was the installation of Scotland’s only Baselight digital telecine suite, a service previous unavailable in Scotland. “If you want to grade film and TV, then Baselight is the only way to go. It is an amazingly powerful tool and what really works is that it can be used on low budget DV productions right up to Red and 35mm film.” Serious has been involved in film from its outset, forming an early alliance with Film City neighbours Sigma Films and were involved in post producing short film Somersault and features The Last Great Wilderness and Hallam Foe. Serious also provides location editing
facilities for film productions in the UK. They designed and built their bespoke Flying Avid's, a flight-cased offline facility, for The Jacket when it came to Scotland in 2004. They have since provided edit suites for films such as Kinky Boots, Its a Boy Girl Thing, Hallam Foe, Vinyan, and shortly for editor Colin Monie on Peter Mullan's new feature Neds. They are also now making big moves into film finishing, with their Baselight Grading Suite coming into its own with the advent of the Red Camera. “Red is a great format for Scotland, because there are no labs up here,” says Cull. “In the past you would break your rushes at 7pm, courier them to London for the night bath and then crossed your fingers till they got back. Red completely flips it on its head. We are currently working on Legacy, a feature produced by Black Camel, and what's really impressive is that their editor in New York is able to view and start editing on slates that have been shot that day.” This is done by a workflow that involves uploading dailies using Serious's super fast FTP service. “We can send up compressed rushes really quickly and that is proving a real help to productions; it can also allow producers around the world to tap in and see what they need to see, without the need of DVD's and couriers," explains Cull. “In
reality though, it is now possible for an editor to be on set editing a slate 5 minutes after someone shouts cut.” But it doesn't stop there. It really gets exciting when picture lock comes. “Because the whole thing is digital and file based, we can just set a machine off to pull the relevant frames that make up the film and load into our Baselight to start the grade. Red has its faults, but the upside to the whole way it works, far outweighs any downsides,” says Cull. On the business side, owing to the great success of their various collaborations, Film City residents Serious and sound post house Savalas have come together to form a new company Serious Savalas. Cull says: “Both companies have the same ethos and work ethic and we all thought that joining together to provide one point of contact would make life easier for production companies. It’s vital that they can feel that Scotland is a viable alternative to posting in London and this new company will make that even more attractive. We are both known as a safe pair of hands and have the track record to prove it. We are ideally placed to offer production companies coming to Scotland an unparalleled range of services and talent.” www.seriousfacilities.co.uk
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“There was a time when not everything could be done in-house, and things had to be sent down south. Not any more.” - Bill Fairweather
From the outside, the Co-operative Building in Glasgow’s city centre is one of the most impressive reminders of the city’s illustrious business heritage. Inside Dalintober Hall on the 4th Floor, Arc has custom-built their own state of the art facility, a flexible and spacious working area which plays host to nine edit suites, three graphics workstations and three dubbing suites.
complexities on the audio side including Dolby Digital, Dolby Surround and Dolby E. A film or television producer can be confident masters outputted by Arc will pass ever more stringent tech-reviews by broadcasters and distributors.”
Taking a tour round the split-level studio, it’s clear why Arc has so many suites: it’s necessary for the sheer volume of high-end work they get through. A glimpse through one door reveals an editor working on feature Wide Open Spaces. Through another, a sound designer is working on tracklaying for the CBBC programme Ooglies.
From Bridging The Gap shorts, to the Dennis The Menace series, or the BBC Scotland Scotland’s Clans programme, Arc has a strong pedigree of broadcaster-led work, but is also pleased to be hosting increased feature-film activity, with Mead Kerr’s Wide Open Spaces and Mandragora Productions’ Dark Nature, directed by Marc de Launay, both of which utilised Arc’s considerable expertise in 2009.
“Ooglies is a new children’s animation show for CBBC, and the result will be two series of 13 x 15 minute programmes. It’s a sketch show, and a big sound job too - over 750 individual sketches and more than 6 hours of animation,” says Arc’s Bill Fairweather. Arc has also worked on animations for Red Kite and KoLik. “We’ve also been working on a drama series called Half Moon Investigations for CBBC, which follows on from our work on another drama series Shoebox Zoo. Half Moon Investigations was originally intended to be a London production, but it was one we were really pleased to see coming up here. There was a time when not everything could be done in-house, and things had to be sent down south. Not any more. Arc offers offline, online, grading, graphics and sound all in one custom-built location.” “There are certainly bigger facilities in London, but it’s not always correct to assume that bigger is better,” says Arc’s Brian Suttie. “We do very well out of word of mouth. If someone is working here with John Cobban or Travis Reeves on their sound design, that may well lead the production into doing the editing and grading here as well. Similarly, if Ian Ballantyne is doing the grade on a programme, the sound and graphics may also follow. It’s all down to the people at the end of the day, and our staff have expertise in all areas. You need skill and experience to cut a 20 x 45 minute series, grade a drama or a feature film or tracklay and mix the sound, but it doesn’t stop there. Arc also provides outstanding service and advice when it comes to the minefield of multi-format deliverables. These can be very complicated and need considerable expertise to output properly to the correct technical standards – for Wide Open Spaces the deliverables list included 35mm and Digital versions at 25, 24, 23.976 and 29.97 fps with similar
“We’re definitely seeing more features and drama, and more meaty television projects such as Cowboy Trap, a 20 x 45 minute daytime series for Mentorn which suggests there’s a lot more happening in terms of Scottish film and television, so yes, there’s a bit of optimism around,” says Fairweather. “If there’s London companies looking at coming up here to do network programming then that can only be good. With new tapeless formats and our experience and range of facilities, we can also offer advice to projects like Wide Open Spaces or Dark Nature at the earliest planning stages, so that we can make sure they use the right equipment to ensure a smooth edit. Rather than having filmmakers shoot on different formats, we’re delighted if they come to us at the outset and that makes everything just that bit easier further down the line.” www.arccreative.co.uk
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Down the Rabbit Hole
Director Eva Pervolovici
Down the Rabbit Hole
“At Edinburgh Skillset Screen and Media Academy, creativity and risk-taking aren’t just encouraged but are required.” - Robin MacPherson
Edinburgh Skillset Screen and Media Academy It’s four years since the advent of Screen Academy Scotland (now known as Edinburgh Skillset Screen and Media Academy), a collaboration that brings together Edinburgh Napier University’s producing, screenwriting and directing courses with the documentary and animation expertise of the same city’s Edinburgh College of Art. Over the past four years, the developing programmes offered by the Academy have ensured that it’s ideally placed to enhance the professional training of filmmakers in Scotland. “Our students have had access to top professionals from across Europe, better equipment and facilities, high level placements and support after they graduate,” says Academy Director Professor Robin MacPherson. “In the past year we’ve also greatly increased our support for industry professionals through Continuing Professional Development short courses and programmes such as The Soundtrack, Film Business Summer School and ENGAGE, our MEDIA funded programme to develop new talent across Europe. And of course now we are also a Skillset Media Academy - one of only three combined Skillset Screen and Media Academies in the UK.” Screen and Media Academy graduates have also blazed a trail in terms of festivals and awards of late, with Catriona MacInnes having one of only three UK films in competition in the 2008 Venice Film Festival, and Catriona Craig winning the audience prize at the Beijing student film festival and
a special mention at Oberhausen. Other successes include Jamie Stone and Anders Jedenfords winning the 2008 BAFTA Scotland award for best animation, and Timo Langer and Robert Glassford winning the 4Talent Directing Award. And with three students (Eva Pervolovici, Shezad Afzal and Amy Rose) selected for 2009’s Trailblazers on home turf at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, this success shows no sign of letting up. Continuing with their good work while also looking to adapt to the everchanging challenges offered by new technology is part of MacPherson’s remit. “We’ll be offering more television and screen performance programmes at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, and more CPD short courses. Through our links with Creative Loop and Abertay Skillset Media Academy, as well as other institutions, we’re working together to find more ways for students to progress from further education and undergraduate degrees into professional masters courses and on into the industry,” says MacPherson. “We’re also looking at more specialist craft provision in areas like sound, cinematography and post-production, and aim to have a presence across Scotland, which we’ve begun by establishing a base in Glasgow in the offices of Scottish Screen.”
them to deal with the continually redrawn landscape of Scottish media. MacPherson is looking forward to seeing Screen Academy students having an impact, from the smallest animation process to large-scale film and television productions. “Yes, convergence and technological innovation will continue to affect content, business and distribution models across television, online and interactive media but the key challenge for us at the Screen and Media Academy is to respond to what we all hope will be resurgent and continued growth in areas such as network television production and in film production,” says MacPherson. “Together these require the full spectrum of creative, business and craft skills to be nurtured and retained in Scotland, from flexible multi-skilled new entrants to highly specialised experts in everything from script editing to SFX.” “Given the increasing pace of change and decreasing job security, our role at the Screen and Media Academy is to provide education and training at every stage of an individual’s career through the industry, while ensuring there is a place where creativity and risk-taking aren’t just encouraged but are required.” www.screenacademyscotland.ac.uk
Students at the Screen and Media Academy will be looking to acquire the skills and knowledge to equip
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“Real life experience is much more useful than just sitting through a lecture - nothing beats real life experience.” - Helliate Rushwaya Twenty years ago, the aspiring film editor learned his trade on a Steenbeck editing table. Nowadays they’re more likely to cut their editorial teeth on an Avid system.
develop an online repository of shared learning resources. “This year we’re been able to increase the number of Keeping up to date with the changing requirements of industry-focused events, such today’s media is more than any one person can manage, as arranging for students so Creative Loop is charged with the responsibility of to have a five-day training linking the creative industries with the educational bodies session at the BBC, working from which their workforce will come, to make sure the on radio content for BBC Blast, next generation is equipped with the right skills. while other students have participated in a NESTA start“We’re responding to an existing, pressing need. In up programme focusing on today’s climate, students have to be more innovative in employability and enterprise what they do, finding new methods to break into their skills,” says Rushwaya. chosen area of specialisation,” says Creative Loop’s “And on the employability Helliate Rushwaya. “Most colleges offer a creative and enterprise programme, industries television course, but now students are students involved with graphic expected to think about multi platform content and need design, visual communication to learn about specific skills like making and displaying and interactive multimedia content on social networking sites.” creation were able to extend their knowledge of enterprise In order to help colleges and industry work together so and employability and learn that graduates have the more relevant skills possible, from podcasts and video Creative Loop works with six Scottish colleges - Aberdeen, diaries. Real life experience Adam Smith, Cardonald, Dundee, Perth and Reid Kerr, and is much more useful than key national partners, Scottish Screen, Skillset Scotland just sitting through a lecture and Scottish Qualifications Authority. The aim is to create - nothing beats real life centres of excellence in broadcast media, television, radio, experience. Creative Loop post production, interactive and creative enterprise, and were also involved in the 58
Celtic Media Festival with their GreenLight strand targeted at students, offering sessions on current and future trends in the creative media industry.” Creating opportunities in which students can learn from their peers is also important, providing a crucial ‘foot in the door’ for those starting out in the industry. Creative Loop has been involved in getting some of the Scottish media’s most established and respected names into conversation with the content-makers of tomorrow. “These are great opportunities to find out what the commissioning editors want, whether the trend is games shows or horror. The industry is flexible, and we have to be flexible too in the way colleges respond to industry needs.” www.creativeloop.org
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BAFTA Scotland “I think it’s important that we see BAFTA not just as a one-night-a-year organisation, but something that has important functions for filmmakers all the year round,” says Helen Anderson, who took over as Director of BAFTA Scotland in 2008. “Yes, we trade off the value of the mask, and the awards, but it’s also about creating educational events, sharing skills, getting new people into the industry, and telling people about what’s going on in it.” While BAFTA’s UK awards have emerged from the shadow of the Academy Awards to attain a new prominence in an earlier time-slot, BAFTA Scotland have not only established their own awards in November, but also their New Talent awards, which take place annually in March.
in November. It’s about finding the best way to cater for the constituency. For students, the awards are an introduction to the industry, so we’re uniquely placed to provide connectivity and opportunities for filmmakers to interact with each other, and the established industry.” Winning films like Dave and Claire MacLeod’s Echo Wall, which uses cutting edge digital cameras to capture the drama of rock-climbing, illustrate the changing opportunities which lie ahead for Scottish filmmakers, young and old, and Anderson believes that BAFTA Scotland can play a vital role in bringing the industry together. “New technology means that it’s easier than ever to make films outside the Glasgow-Edinburgh axis, whether in
“We all benefit from a rising tide.” - Helen Anderson
“The New Talent awards have been a really positive step for us, featuring a good cross-section of students, industry practitioners and first time professionals. We have a straight-to-thepoint awards ceremony, which lasts less than an hour; we recognise the talent and then had a great party to celebrate it afterwards,” she says. “I think it’s appropriate for the New Talent awards to be like that, in that they’re in contrast with the more formal Scottish BAFTA’s
Uist or the Borders,” she says. “We have to be ahead of the curve, with the categories of the awards; 20% of the gaming industry is in Scotland, and the crossover between games and cinema is growing.” With weekly screenings in Glasgow and Edinburgh, BAFTA Scotland has a strong and established social function for its members. But the organisation is also looking into other ways to bring
filmmakers together and celebrate excellence in the industry. “We’re a charity, and I believe that to reflect that, we could do more to get the mask to move, to talk about what goes on. And with digital cinemas installed in most Scottish regions, we’re hoping to take our shows of new talent on the road and reach audiences outside of just Glasgow and Edinburgh,” says Anderson. “I do want to shatter the perception that BAFTA is just one night in the calendar; this year we’re doing summer events at Go North in Inverness, Edinburgh International Film Festival and at the Interactive Festival.” And Anderson is particularly keen to praise the spirit of the BAFTA members that the organisation caters for. “In any creative business, you might expect people to be constantly always on the hustle, but what I see is that there’s solidarity rather than competition. After all, we all benefit from a rising tide,” says Anderson. “We’re ideally placed to build a bridge to help members to embrace digital technologies; on one hand we’re working with organisations like 4iP, and on the other we have more traditional film industry practitioners, who are keen to find out more about digital opportunities. Similarly, New Talent members are quite often forming their first work, and it’s ideal for them to talk to people who have made a career from it. That’s the kind of interaction we’re keen to encourage.” www.baftascotland.co.uk 59
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Scotland Keeping track of the constantly changing skills, required by the workforce engaged in Scotland’s screen industries, is part of the remit of Skillset, the Sector Skills Council (SSC) for Creative Media which comprises TV, film, radio, interactive media, animation, computer games, facilities, photo imaging and publishing. Guided by employers, trade associations, unions, learning and training providers, Government and its public agencies, Skillset Scotland is responsible for ensuring that Scotland’s creative media industries have continued access now, and in the future, to the skills and talent they require. In practice, that means developing the skills base of companies, employees and freelancers across the country, ensuring closer collaboration between
training/education sectors and industry in Scotland for better integration of skills demand and supply, while attracting, retaining and promoting skills and talent in Scotland by encouraging existing funding to be used in a more meaningful way. Recently, Skillset established a network of Skillset Screen and Media Academies – centres of excellence in creative media education – to enhance collaboration between industry and colleges and universities. In Scotland there are four Skillset Academies consisting of nine separate institutions: Edinburgh Skillset Screen and Media Academy, Creative Loop Skillset Media Academy and University of Abertay Skillset Media Academy. Alasdair Smith, Director of Skillset Scotland said: “I’m proud that we have accredited four Skillset Academies in Scotland – creating a genuine network of top quality media training and education provision. These industry-recognised centres of excellence will not only help prepare the next generation of skilled media professionals, but support the continuing professional development of those already in the workforce. This will help Scotland’s creative media industries compete with the rest of the world in this exciting growth sector.” Skillset also provides sector-specific careers information, advice and guidance though their website www.skillset.org/careers. www.skillset.org/uk/scotland
Alasdair Smith with Fiona Hyslop and Mark Batho with the Screen and Media Academy students
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Youâ€™ve GOT IT MADE `
short film Distribution guide NIGEL R SMITH
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SCOTLAND There are many advantages to making your film in Scotland: talented and experienced cast and crew; excellent support and facilities companies to cover all aspects of production and post production; competitive costs compared to the rest of the UK; a well organised network of film offices around the country which can assist productions with location searching, local information and practical support; and a wide diversity of locations, from period buildings to unspoilt countryside to contemporary cityscapes. For programme makers from overseas, there is a 15% sale tax (VAT) refund if your country has a reciprocal sales tax agreement with the UK. For more information, see www.hmrc.gov.uk or contact email@example.com.
Scottish Screen Funding
Scottish Screen invests just over £5m in the development and promotion of Scotland’s screen industries each year, including distributing £2.2m of National Lottery funds for production and content development. Specific funding areas include: production company growth; short and feature film development and production; freelancer and company skills development; experimental, alternative and interactive digital screen content, formats and platforms; development and production of television drama pilots; distribution initiatives. To find out more about Scottish Screen and the investment opportunities available please visit www. scottishscreen.com/funding.
Scottish Screen Locations
Scottish Screen Locations offers a fast, free and confidential locations finding service, including a research service, an image library of over 60,000 images, locations breakdown for scripts, recce support, and finding locations crew. The national office and the regional film offices around Scotland can provide a wide range of support for your project. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.scottishscreenlocations.com.
MEDIA Antenna Scotland
MEDIA Antenna Scotland is the office for Scotland of the European Union’s MEDIA Programme, based at Scottish Screen. MEDIA encourages and supports the European film, television and interactive industries with funding in the following areas: professional training; project development; distribution; exhibition; promotional activities at markets and festivals. For more information visit the UK MEDIA team’s website www. mediadeskuk.eu or email MEDIA Antenna Scotland at email@example.com.
249 West George Street, Glasgow, G2 4QE Tel: 0845 300 7300 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.scottishscreen.com
Eddie Harrison - writer linsey Denholm - Editor Stephen mcewan - graphic design Printed by Akros Print thank you
Helen Anderson, BAFTA Scotland Ciara Barry, DigiCult Gillian Berrie, Sigma Films Lizelle Bisschoff, Africa in Motion Ewen Bremner Lucinda Broadbent, media co-op Michael Callaghan, Black Camel Pictures Sara Carlsson, Park Circus Ann Cattrall, Sixteen Films Brian Coffey, Sigma Films Mark Cousins Arabella Page Croft, Black Camel Pictures Simon Cull, Serious James Davidson, Icon Film Distribution Jen Davies, GFT Eddie Dick, Makar Productions Kate Dickie Bill Fairweather, Arc Joanna Dewar Gibb, Artem Allison Gardner, Glasgow Film Festival Kenny Glenaan Wendy Griffin Kahl Henderson, Savalas
Sonja Henrici, Scottish Documentary Institute Allan Hunter, Glasgow Film Festival Sharon Hutt, Skillset Scotland Ron Inglis, Regional Screen Scotland Tiernan Kelly, Film City Glasgow Mike Kelt, Artem Clare Kerr, Mead Kerr Giles Lamb, Savalas Angus Lamont, Crab Apple Films Bryan Larkin, Dabhand Films Paula Larkin, Document Paul Laverty John Letham, Park Circus Kevin Macdonald Daniel MacNamara, Premier PR Robin MacPherson, Edinburgh Skillset Screen & Media Academy Colm McCarthy Stephen McCole Hannah McGill, Edinburgh International Film Festival Justin Molotnikov, Synchronicity Films Claire Mundell, Synchronicity Films
NBC Universal (for permission to use image from Wanted) Marie Olesen, Autonomi Mona Rai, Document Nicolas Winding Refn Aimara Reques, mediaco-cop Helliate Rushwaya, Creative Loop Alasdair Smith, Skillset Scotland Iain Smith Karen Smyth, La Belle Allee Productions Tamara Van Strijthem, Edinburgh Skillset Screen & Media Academy Tilda Swinton Michelle Tierney, La Belle Allee Productions Lisa Towney, NBC Universal Nick Varley, Park Circus Paul Welsh, DigiCult
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