get out ofthis place.‘
kind of film you‘d go and see.
CLIMBING THE WALL
The Scottish Film Industry is a mythical beast and so it is perhaps not surprising that it has been unable to build links with the gritty Scottish entrepreneurs and hip financial whlzz-kids who roam the same mythic moorlands. Film funding from the state sometimes appears to be strung out on a tightrope stretched between a nostalgic definition of art and a fear of the marketplace. What do aspiring film-makers do when The Scottish Film Production Fund, the BFI, British Screen, Channel Pour, the EC-funded European Script Development Fund, in fact the whole cabal of good intentions, pass on their script?
You go back to the day job of course. Unless you’re Alastair Paton. After studying architecture, he decamped from Glasgow to Paris, invested a vast amount of energy in a couple of
l2 BS .lanuary -- February Bill-V
itting on a hot potato is a pretty tricky business, especially when no one else knows how hot it is. Angus Lamont and Jonathan Bernstein, film-makers in the making, shift restlessly on their tinny seats in the St Enoch Centre. Fighting the jackets-on atmosphere of the glasshouse which towers above them, they cheerfully l consume bacon and eggs and quibble over the relative merits of Princes Square and its glittering
In their late twenties, and possessing no experience in film-making other than ‘intuition and exemplary taste’, these two likely lads are mere ducklings in an industry which is largely barricaded into one square mile of London‘s Soho. Against all odds, however, Lamont and Bernstein have created a snippet ofthe impossible, a five-minute trailer for a feature-length film, Shotgun Wedding. Although as yet unrealised, their desire to create a film written by Bernstein and produced by Lamont
Summed up by Bernstein in “one high concept‘, Shotgun Wedding is about ‘a guy who wakes up one morning to find himself married to a runaway Mafia princess.‘ Bernstein‘s baby, he insists. contains the three magic ingredients of the blockbuster: ‘action, romance and stupidity‘. Both creators are spellbound by American films. and regard the fragile beginnings of a Scottish film industry as stilted and chronically unambitious. Bernstein explains why two complete novices with overactive imaginations should even consider making a feature film.
“On a Saturday night in Glasgow city centre, you can kill yourself. We ended up sitting in Dunkin‘ Doughnuts, watching sixteen-year-old kids coming out ofdiscos and having a great life. We were just these two old guys, ageing rapidly in front ofour own faces and thinking, we‘ve got to
Chuckling at Bernstein‘s tirade, Lamont injects a bit of realism — the stuff of which producers are made. ‘I‘d say that the motivation was rank opportunism; the ability to see a gap in the market. There‘s a certain type of film produced in Scotland over and over again. and although it only happens once or twice a year. it‘s not the
§ some private investors, inspired a youthful crew's enthusiasm, deferred a lot of their wages and ended up with
a surprisingly small amount of hard
Getting the resources together to make a feature film is a logistical nightmare in the best of circumstances. In E Scotland, most insiders believe, it's practically impossible. But reckless determination can pay off. Kathleen Morgan meets two Glaswegians with a trailer in tow and an eye on Hollywood; while Bob Last reports below on the success of a second dogged duo who brought their last project to fruition.
Lamont perceived the lack ofentertainment value when, in 1989. he conducted research into the homegrown film industry for the Scottish Film
pre-sales to obscure corners of the globe, re-mortgaged his flat, laid out a bold and uncompromising vision to
what? Nothing. He still needed a film
culture that allowed sound and vision to generate its narrativs, rather than a Britishcultthatreducedfilm-makingto , the decoration of scripts.
Producer Martha Wansborough provided the final ingredients: commitment, and a sufficient lack of experience to ignore widespread advice that it couldn't be done. Her experience now indicates that in a sufficientlvfree-wheeling environment 9
money can be parlayed into a bigger resource if there is a bold enough vision behind it. % Paton has finally completed his first l feature film. Ahead of Me I Saw a Six Feet Wall values sound and vision
above the middle-aged emotional constructs that beset so many British films. A Scotsman named V-land, the skeletal remains of every hard-boiled detective who ever haunted the movies, pursues an anarchic team of characters escaped from somebody else's story. They roam the elegant concrete fringes of Europolis, resolutely refusing to fulfil the planners' expectations or, for that matter, the audience‘s. For 90 minutes, Paton herds sound and picture through a matrix of unrelenting attitude OD‘ed on aphorisms.
And will it work? Paton hopes that you will accept non sequiturs as the norm. The film’s refusal to provide convenient explanations reflects a perverse commitment to realism. He insists that there is a modern audience who will not find his delirious construction disorientating. ‘It has to be understood that there is a new generation that embraces life as a
that anyone presently working on Scottish films as producers were going to make anything the least bit watchable for a mass audience. As inexperienced people, we hoped we wouldn‘t have to go through all the usual hoops. simply because nobody else is doing this type of film .‘
Part ofthe problem, they believe, lies with the financial backbone of Scottish film-making— the Scottish Film Production Fund. Established in 1982 and funded by the Scottish Arts Council, the Scottish Film Council, Channel 4 and BBC Scotland, the SFPF‘s budget of.£23(),()()() spreads a very thin blanket over the fragile skeleton ofan evolving industry. Penny Thomson, Directorof SFPF. admits to tragic undernourishment. ‘We keep our running expenses as low as we possibly l can, with the result that we are in minute offices.
badly overcrowded, with not enough resources.
i We exist to stimulate and develop the
, independent production industry in Scotland. and not amateurs and home movies.‘
' Lamont and Bernstein received nothing but ‘heartache‘ from the SFPF. ‘You‘ve got to prove
i you‘re not going to piss their money against a
wall,‘ says Lamont. “They didn‘t take me
I seriously until it was too late.‘
Fed up with being ‘treated like kids‘, they enlisted the help of a couple of pros to make the trailer ofShotgun Wedding. Paddy Higson ofthe Glasgow-based Antonine Productions is the Executive Producer. and Jim Gillespie directs. “He‘s worked on everything in Scotland for the last few years,‘ says Lamont ofthis rising star. ‘We‘ve hitched ourselves to a winner here.‘
Determined to avoid the old ‘self—congratulatory myth ofthe Glasgow sense of humour‘. defined by Lamont as ‘a man with a vest, a bandage and a rolled-up Evening Times". their mission is to crash the boundaries of time. space and video shelves. ‘We‘re not going to get actors to talk like they‘re coming out ofthe backstreets of Easterhouse. We‘re working with a communications medium.‘
Under the umbrella oftheir film company Boffo Box Office. the Boffo boys regard themselves as a force with a future. and despite a distinct lack of money where their mouths are. their dreams ' remain not only intact. but positively illuminated. 'By this time next year we‘ll be in LA.‘ grins a confident Lamont. And between gobfuls ofrunny egg. Bernstein murmurs the prophetic words 3 ‘Lower Argyll‘.
series of disjointed moments accumulating meaning like a street-sweeper. It‘s a youthful film aboutyoung people. Youthful in the best sense: in its imaginative
: irreverence for compassionate ego.‘
I Is it entertainment? It wants to be.
; But perhaps actors who do not understand the language and attempt
will tax our patience? At times the film's game-playing is so unrelenting that the joys of clawing at convention wear off, but even then it reminds us how pedestrian many other films are.
Paton is capable of refreshing an appreciation of the cinema. What better icon forthe single European market than his Scottish detective V-land gazing out across Paris‘ ring road from beneath the raffia fringe of hisjerry-builtaluminium sunhat, Doreen and Linda from the Tennent‘s Lager cans glinting glossily as he adjusts his shades?
Council. ‘I realised then that it‘s highly unlikely
an entirely phonetic delivery of English