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92’ #3

'Manfred Karge'.’ I gave him his first break .' someone has written on a photocopied likeness of the playwright pinned to a noticeboard.

The film version of Karge's ('(mquesl'

()f The Soul/i I’o/t' which began

shooting in Leith this week didn't get

to where it is by underplaying its hand. In the same room. producer (iareth Wardell. the man who has wheedled. bullied and cajoled the production into being. lumbers about the place in imitation ofthe

cigar-smoking Karge. remembering.

as if it were twenty years ago. the night he knew he'd got the filth rights.

In fact it is only four months since Wardell persuaded Karge that a low-budget production by a new Scottish company. tising less than 50’; of the play"s original dialogue and an unknown cast was the best way to make his Fringe hit one of the hottest tickets at last year‘s Edinburgh I-‘estival into a movie. Wardell saw the 'l'raverse Theatre's production last summer and was immediately struck by the play's untapped comic potential: "I‘here's a lot more humour in it. I said so to Karge and he said. “.la! You are right. They don't do my plays correctly. " 'I'hey see it‘s a contemporary (ierman play and think it must be bleak and serious.‘ Wardell's adaptation of the play appears fearless. On first seeing it he

Original cast at the Traverse Theatre pro

Gordon Cameron. Stevan Rimltus and Leonrd O'Malley in the titm version.

duction of Conquest ol the South Pole.


immediately was the place to film: ‘A good producer should make that leap from an idea to the finished film. If he doesn‘t do that. he‘s an administrator’. (mu/Hes! ()f The Sour/t Pole is a low budget film: its costing less than £1 million. ‘but it’s amazing what you can do even with a tiny amount of money.‘ says Associate Producer. Penny Thomson. "I‘he Forth Ports Authority have been absolutely wonderful. People are helpful because we ask for things instead of chucking money at them. 'I'here's a lot ot'energy coming out of the location: we're trading on a whole lot of things that don‘t have a price-tag.‘ An opportunistic approach to film-making can result in apparent god-sends. 'I'he ()rcadian Viking turned up in dry dock the day before shooting began; a working cooperage filled with flailing arms and a cacophony of hammers creates an atmosphere of ageless toil which. says Wardell. would have cost £30.00“ to recreate in the studio: wondering from where his heroes could steal a Norwegian flag. Wardell took a walk along the docks one evening to discover three Norwegian submarines with flags flying.

The same opportunistn. combined with the kind of flair which gets blood out of a stone. characterizes Wardell's production methods. "I‘here‘s a chance of a lot happening

[h‘mghl 1m." Pcrccm “fit “(mid c in the British film industrv in

“MR a“ Cincnm.‘ “c hi‘SCXP““d“d Scotland. Take this film. It was a

:i‘i’tlll‘;::i’3:5::S‘::;:):;;::';lfl“’ Manfred Karge‘s brave and challenging play. (.‘(mques't ljlu)‘_thiftcftuldn'} lic‘ntifdf‘inuful .

discovered that ‘after a while it was : ofthe Soul/1 Pole~was one of the hottest tickets on last

€35."“""erdiii'UgUC like Manfred year‘s Edinburgh Fringe. Now. down in Leith. it is undzcrtuinlynot in winter. And here being turned into a film. Julie Morrice reports.

Kf‘lg“ .I . . we are. Doing it because nobody’s I he final script is. says W ardell. ever done it before.‘. Wardell is very less esoteric than the play: ‘tt opens proud that (‘onquesl has been

small cast and brilliant locations free windowsill while people flit in and

out internal aspects ofcharacter‘. 'I'he 'I‘raverse production was a highly-strung. intensely theatrical piece. using the small studio theatre like a padded cell where the five unemployed men bounced offtheir restrictive. sterilizing situation. The theme ofthe enlargement of personality and the political stress on the hopeless waste of human potential are still very much a part of the script. but Wardell admits he is not in a position to make a ‘difficult’ or unconventional film. ‘If I was an established film-maker I could afford to experiment. but I have to produce something which is going to sell. The most I can do is make sure there‘s still a sub-text and keep in the politics".

With ‘a smashing script. a strong.

ofcharge‘. who needs big names'.’ The photograph of Karge shares the noticeboard with a selection of young. unknown faces. The one immediately recognisable name amongst the cast is Julie-Kate Olivier who is says Wardell ‘a down-to-earth. ordinary girl‘ who happens to be ideal for the character he describes as ‘both vulnerable and decorative‘. The PR lady may talk of the young ()livier ‘starring' in the film. but down at the old dockers' changing room which is the film unit's headquarters. any ideas of star-treatment are banished by the atmosphere ofconvivial communality. On Day One of shooting. excitement makes a faint tension in the air at base camp. A walkie-talkie splutters on the

out of the office and a man makes {

incessant calls on a red telephone:

‘l Iello. I‘m calling from a company called Jam Jar Films’. ’I'hc centre of attention is a cageful ofcuddly huskies who. as their owner says. neither bite nor bark. but keep tip an intermittent whooping.

()n location. a hundred yards down the road. a group of fifteen or so people hang around stamping their feet while an out ofsight camera films three young men. indistinguishable from the crew. running up sortie steps and loping past a photogenic trawler called the ()rcadian Viking. In the crisp air the lines are just distinguishable: ‘( ‘an a camel ride a bike'.’ No No No.‘ Everyone is very pleased with Leith. which Wardell says he knew

financed without help from the BBC or Channel 4. All the money has come from Jam Jar's shareholders: half frotn Atnerica and half frotn Scotland. Nevertheless. he hopes to sell the finished product to one or other ofthe TV channels after the film’s likely premiere at this summer‘s Edinburgh International Film Festival. A lot rests on ('(mquest's success. It is the first of five projects in the Jam Jar pipeline and as Wardell says. with some seriousness. you're only as good as the last thing you did. Piecing together funding for new projects will be a lot easier riding on a low-budget success. (iareth Wardell is confident ofthe film's popularity: ‘lt‘s got a Christmassy feel to it. It‘s full of hope.‘

The List l3 lo January 45