Thom Dibdin takes on alien monsters. . .

I screamed in agony and helplessly tried to beat offthe alien being. It picked me up in its maw. still hot with the blood ofits last victim, and hauled me into the enveloping smoke of the burning research station. My fellow troopers could only wince. and pump futile rounds ofbullets into the foul creature‘s belly as I died a horrible and bloody death.


This is the sort ofscenario from which you normally awake with a cold sweat. and mentally promise never to accept another invitation to the Horror Society of Scotland‘s AGM. Yet there I was. enjoying every second of my over-acted death throes. as an extra on a SCOTVEC training module for video users at Edinburgh‘s Grindlay Court Centre.

The small pile of semi-automatic assault weapons was being assayed by the course tutors, Mark and Alan, when I arrived at the centre. The Uzis were only plastic replicas though. props for our evening‘s lesson. In its eighth week. the course had already covered the basic techniques needed to make your own home video; now the aim was to create a trailer for an imaginary film, Alien War. Mark and Alan had already done the hard bit ofwriting, scripting and creating a storyboard the sequence of pictures which tells the video crew the details ofevery shot. Jobs had been allocated to each ofthe fifteen or so students and I was i to have just a walk-on part in the I war. '

Not that the centre really looks like i the supposed ‘research institution’

Thom Dibdin, eaten by an alien

where a rapacious Extraterrestrial Being was consuming the staff. But you can do wonders with the judicious use ofstrobe lighting. low angle shots, coloured gels and an over zealous extra on the smoke machine.

Most of the trainees were folk who wanted to get that bit more from their camcorders, although Malcolm. who acted as video operator on all the main shots, was hoping to start up his own video business. Splitting into two teams, we had just two hours to take the 25 separate shots which would make up the thirty seconds. Strips ofcloth for bandannas, a fistful of black make-up smeared onto our faces and six designate Troopers were ready for ‘Action‘.

The sky sparkled with stars as we lined up outside for the long tracking shot which would establish us in the station. Uzis at the ready. we glowered back at the neighbours, staring in shock at the armed troops in their back close. Had we wanted to force a coup d‘état. there wouldn‘t have been many ready to stop us. Except for one alien. Hungry.

Corridors billowed with smoke. a walkman became a walkie-talkie, we were briefed. de-briefed and killed offone by one. Screams and howls echoed around the centre as a bunch ofhighly immature, mature grown-ups consistently over-acted and hogged the limelight. Not that our acting skills were under consideration takes and retakes were made to illustrate points oflighting and camera technique.

All the troopers had died, the smoke alarms switched back on and the guns placed back in their boxes. We had about twenty minutes of footage in the can, which needed to be edited into just 30 seconds of scintillating drama. That, I will leave for another day.

Contact Mark Grierson orAlan Jenkins on 031 229 7941 for details of the courses which start on Thurs 28 Jan (evening course) and Fri29Jan (daytime course).

I Designers’ Chair: The Chartered Society of Designers, the professional body for designers of all disciplines, has appointed its first ever woman chairman in Scotland. Graphic designer Lin Gibbon, a graduate ofGlasgow School of Art and a Director of Randak Design Consultants heads a new committee that aims to encourage closer consultation between the CSD where design issues affect business, industry and education in Scotland. ‘We aim to forge stronger links with all art education centres in Scotland,” said Gibbon, ‘commencing with a register of practising designers, experts in their own fields, who will be willing to act as visiting lecturers to impart practical experience to students hungry for the real world.‘ I Glennie tops list: Scottish percussionist and TV presenter Evelyn Glennie has been voted Personality of the Year in the first International Classical Music Awards, announced earlier this week. While an international jury of musical and journalistic experts decided the winners of the other fourteen categories (everything from

Orchestra of the Year to Recording of the Year), the Personality of the Year category was voted by members of the public from across Europe and the USA via the BBC Music Magazine and The Independent.

I Shrigley on board: List cartoonist David Shrigley is one of four artists with Scottish connections to have won the Tramway/Metro Outdoor Advertising (Scotland) billboard competition. Leicester-born Shrigley trained at Glasgow School of Art, and his winning billboard an alien wearing a placard bearing the words ‘Sex 10p‘ can be found in Glasgow‘s Maryhill Road. The other winners are Neil Chapman, Jill Henderson and Big Panda. The latter— a Glasgow-based group of artists— devised a human billboard which features a park bench on which members of the group will sit for an hour a day announcing the competition‘s slogan ‘Tramway. Surprise. Surprise.‘ through a megaphone.

I Water privatisation: The people of Scotland have until 29 January to respond to the government’s consultation paper on the future of the country’s water and sewage services. Opinion polls have shown that around 90 per cent of the population is against privatisation, which is one of the options being considered. The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) is urging people to make their views known in writing to the Secretary ofState for Scotland, and calls for water and sewage services north of the border to remain under local authority control. Letters should be sent to Scottish Office Environment Department, Water Restructuring Division, Room 203A, 27 Perth Street, Edinburgh EH3 SRB.



THINGS Barrett THAN You.

with SHRlG-LEY


The List l5 28 January lW.‘ 5