Sco TISH FILM
met Hodge. a doctor by profession. at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in l99l. where the fomier was showing a short that he had directed and on which the latter’s sister had been sound editor. At that point. the ﬁrst third of the script was more or less complete. and so they spent the next year drafting and redrafting. eventually getting development money from the Scottish Film Production Fund. In November 1992, they both went to the Scottish Film Council's Movie Makers event in lnvemess. where they met David Aukin. Channel 4‘s Head of Drama. A January meeting in London this year gave Shallow Grave its ﬁrst green light. Next problem was getting the right director.
‘We knew the sort of person we wanted was somebody who was about to make their name.‘ says Macdonald, picking up the story. ‘We didn‘t want an established name. or someone who had tried and failed. We wanted someone who was hot and. in some ways. our equivalent. but a more experienced ﬁlmmaker.‘
Someone. in fact. like Danny Boyle. whose BBC television drama Mr Wroe's Virgins was met with great acclaim earlier this year. Boyle‘s track record as a director includes theatre work for the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal Court Theatre (where he was Deputy Director between 1985 and 1987). as well as TV stints on Inspector Morse and various one-off dramas. He also produced Alan Clarke’s controversial Northern Ireland TV play Elephant. In the last few weeks. Not Even God Is Wise Enough was his contribution to the BBC2 Screenplay series. while Mr Wroe s
' simply. ‘Whether l‘m riding in on a
lying gasping with a plastic bag over
: happen to you. It feels brilliant to be in also the ﬁrst thing I‘ve done in
contemporary clothing. and so for the
the camera. It's much harder like this
r But Alex‘s lines arejust so satisfying to
: rude. I really like playing such a cocky character. but sometimes I don‘t ﬁnd it ‘ very challenging. I wonder what that
j warehouse in Anniesland Industrial
Virgins enjoyed a two-part re-run.
Keen to work with Boyle again. Kerry Fox - one ofthe stars of Mr Wroe 's Virgins and highly acclaimed since her debut in Jane Campion‘s An Angel A! My Table - took on Shallow Grave‘s lynchpin role ofJuliet. The New Zealander is joined by two of Britain’s up-and-coming actors. Christopher
Eccleston (David) and Ewan McGregor i f (Alex). whose faces have also been
7 visiting that box in the comer of your 3 living room rather a lot recently.
Eccleston made his debut as Derek
\ Bentley in Let Him Have It. then was
seen on the arthouse circuit last month
as the priest in Anchoress and is currently part of Monday night‘s must-.
} see serial. Cracker. ‘I didn’t
particularly like the idea of playing second ﬁddle to Robbie.‘ he admits. ‘but the scripts are brilliant. There are similarities with Cracker and the script
’ for Shallow Grave: they‘re both
challenging. and make you consider yourselfand where you are. The thing about the character David is that. in a
: strange way. he ﬁnds a power. a self that was lacking. by doing this horriﬁc
thing. He‘s pushed and pushed into dismembering this corpse. and once he
does it. this square. quiet. put-upon guy . has done something that the other two —
who have the pretence of being dangerous — could never have done.‘
With that. he‘s off to skulk in the
shadows ofa loft set. clutching a knife
and jealously guarding his money.
The trio reckon that they can set themselves up for life by disposing of the body and keeping quiet about it. And just to be on the safe side, they cut oft the corpse’s hands and smash its law - tell-tale fingerprints and dental records, you see.
For McGregor. Shallow Grave is the climax of a year that has seen the young Scot thrust into the spotlight with Lipstick On Your Collar and Scarlet And Black. ‘lt‘s great.‘ he says
horse in France or sword-ﬁghting or
my head as l was this moming — these are all things that just don‘t usually
amongst a Scottish crew. but it‘s weird doing something in my own accent. lt‘s j ﬁrst few weeks I was really aware of
because I‘ve got nothing to hide behind. no cravats, no English accent.
say: the only times you ever see him speaking to other people. he‘s being
It‘s all fairly relaxed down in the huge
Estate. The rushes are dark. moody and violently funny; the performances are excellent. even in this rough. unedited
I format; the stunts are working well on
3 camera. For four weeks. cast and crew
have been ﬁlming in the set. a faithful
l (if slightly enlarged) recreation of a
l four-bedroom Edinburgh tenement ﬁat E that - at l05ft by 90ft — is. according to '1 Andrew Macdonald ‘easily the biggest ' set ever built indoors in Scotland‘.
5 Previous to this, they spent two weeks dotting about various locations including the above-mentioned forest
scene in Glasgow‘s Rouken Glen.
' exteriors in Edinburgh‘s New Town.
the ofﬁce of the Evening 'l'imes. and the ' Royal Alexandria Hospital in Paisley. It I was here. in the mortuary. that the opening and closing shots were ﬁlmed. with David laid out on the slab. talking about the nature of friendship in a voiceover that recalls Sunset
; Boulevard. lf method actors reckon that
to play a cop you spend time with cops. then it‘s only fair that. ifyou‘re playing a corpse. you should hang out with dead bodies. This is. after all. a working hospital. And so. as a white- coated ﬁgure closes the drawer on which Chris Eccleston lies motionless. you know he‘s not exactly going to be alone in the freezer. To make things a little more bearable. however. someone has been placed inside with a torch to keep him company. After a couple of takes. the assistant whispers to the actor that his feet are getting a bit cold. Eccleston. without a jacket. without shoes. without so much as a stitch on. just looks round: ‘Oh. yeah . . . ‘ Shallow Grave will receive a cinema
, release late next year. hopefully
! following a Cannes Film Festival
sponsored by BACARDI BLACK
The List 5—18 November 1993 21