LOW BUDGET FILM FEATURE
cottish ﬁlmmakers make ﬁlms with grants. American ﬁlmmakers make them with cameras. By the time the Scots have expended their energies on applying for forms, ﬁlling out forms and posting off forms, their trans-Atlantic counterparts have scripted, shot and edited a rough—and-ready. low- budget feature.
American dynamism and Scottish resilience will meet at a special weekend of screenings and debates at this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival. The ‘Just Do lt’ event sees the UK premieres of such empty-pocketed but commercially viable features as Robert Rodriguez’s El Mariachi (which stretched the director’s credit card limit to $7,000). Another Girl, Another Planet (ﬁlmed by Michael Almereyda on a kiddies’ Fisher- Price pixelvision toy camera — retail value $150) and Rob Weiss‘s Amongst Friends (a sort of upper- middle-class G()o(lfellas. made fora fraction of cost of the Scorsese ﬁlm). Many of the ﬁlmmakers will be present in Edinburgh for the panel discussions. passing on words of wisdom to aspiring locals.
Young Scottish talent is being nurtured by a handful of funding schemes, which have brought to completion a wide variety of shorts. However, at the outset a ﬁlm career, the move from short and feature is cinema’s equivalent ofjumping the Grand Canyon. The Scottish Film Production Fund/BBC Scotland Short Film Awards, about to enter their second year of being under the new moniker ‘Tartan Shorts’, are designed to act as a stepping stone to longer works. The first trio of titles — Peter Capaldi’s Franz Kafka ’s It ’s A Wonderful Life, Jim Shields’s Rain and Eleanor Yule’s A Small Deposit — certainly shows a great deal of promise.
Here, The List casts an eye on low— budget ﬁlmmaking in Scotland and in the States. When ﬁlms with popular appeal can be made on budgets less than the catering bill for Jurassic Park, who needs Hollywood?
Keg em oiling
Richard E. Grant is briefed for his “Tartan Shorts' role
ndependent Scottish filmmakers are marked out by two things, according to Nicholas Fraser, Channel 4’s commissioning editor for Scotland. None of them has any money and all of them have a determination to get their film made anyway.
‘Scottish filmmakers have a special vision of what they want to do,’ Fraser says. ‘I would say at their best, the Scottish proposals we receive are characterised by a stubbornness about the way they want to do things which leads to very good work.’
Fraser cites Another Journey by Train, a 50 minute film funded by Channel 4 which will
be shown at the Edinburgh Film Festival, as an example of this commitment. The film by Scottish-based director Mark Cousins records the reactions of a group of neo-Nazis, who deny that the Holocaust ever took place, when they travel to Auschwitz to meet a survivor of the concentration camp. This is clearly not the film of someone easily deflected from his objective.
Cousins has benefited from Channel 4’s Scottish fund which will give him access to a network television audience. But filmmakers working on a smaller scale in Scotland face huge difficulties finding any money to produce their own
work. There are one or two encouraging signs, however.
The First Reels scheme, which is in its second year of a three- year pilot, was launched with the backing of the Scottish Film Council and Scottish Television to give would-be filmmakers their first break.
From an initial mail-bag of over 200 proposals for this year’s scheme, 30 filmmakers were given grants ranging from as little as £200 up to a maximum of £2000 from the fund. In many cases, these are films which would never otherwise have been made.
One of the films, Tool, which is strictly speaking a second reel by director Shaz Kerr, is a film t
The List 30 July VIZ August 1993 9