Screenwriter Jimmy McGovern’s Priest, screened at Movie Makars
‘Life's a pitch and then you die.‘ muttered one aspiring writer during the Movie Makars event in Inverness. You could tell his day-job was in copy- writing. Like twenty—odd other wannabes — me included — he had forked out £250 to attend the annual screenwriting event which casts you into a week of intensive seminars. tutorials and general hobnobbing with industry big-wigs in the hope that somehow. someday your cherished project will be plucked out ofthe morass and catapulted onto the silver screen.
As it happened. pitching ideas didn‘t come into it much. Movie Makars is boozy. informal and exhausting. But. hell, with the BBC. Channel Four. and an abundance of independent movie execs lounging around the hotel bar. the promise of a Big Opportunity hovered out there for all of us. swirling elusively in the cigarette smoke.
One of the guest producers did suggest as an exercise that we think about selling our idea in an elevator between the ﬁrst and fourth floor of a hotel. 1 feebly tried to imagine it: ‘lt‘s. like. Speed meets Whisky Galore. I ﬁgured on a $20 million budget with Bruce Willis as the lead . . . uh. okay. maybe see you later . . .‘
The event is really about getting a low-down on the way the industry works — a sort of prolonged ﬁreside chat with the British ﬁlm and TV industry‘s major players. The emphasis
is more on avuncular wisdom than hammering out actual deals. But all of us were given more speciﬁc and often useful advice on our proposals by people in the trade. and there was at least one project that attracted serious interest. lfnothing else it provides a rare opportunity to fire questions at the likes of Bill Forsyth. Stephen Frears
[— Life’s a Pitch
Aspiring screenwriter Peter Jinks tries out his networking skills at Movie Makars, while one of Scotland’s new generation of producers, Oscar van Heek spends the weekend Sharing Stories.
and various commissioning editors. But the way to make real use of the week is to have a treatment and script in an advanced stage of development. so that if someone does take an interest. you can move on it fast. Movie Makars does not provide workshops on the craft of script-writing. The agenda is more to seek out comradeship with
5 other writers and producers in a break
from what can obviously be a lonely occupation at the outset of your career. It‘s the friendly face of networking — a
unique event in this respect. organised
with immense patience and tact. 1 went along to get a feel for the industry and the people in it. In addition 1 got
; encouraging feedback on my project. and hooked tip a producer’s interest.
All that remains is to brush tip on that verbal pitch. Maybe it should go more
like ‘I.m‘ul Hero on coke meets The
A .s‘sussin . ' Sharing Stories
Donrring my best suit and carrying a
' briefcase full of proposals. this Sharing ‘ Stories virgin was ready to do business with some Eurocrats. One of only three
‘young' Scottish producers among 460 European and Canadian delegates at the conference for ﬁlm and television people. 1 was disappointed more of my
- contemporaries had failed to do some
creative gatecrashing. After all. this annual event is all about creative ﬁnancing and ﬂirting with the top dogs. In its third year. Sharing Slnries attracts broadcasters. independent
producers and funding bodies from
across Europe and Canada. But the only real deal to be struck this year was a co-produetion between Channel 4 and
7 Northern 1reland‘s Straight Forward ; Film and Television Productions. It was
negotiated by Channel 4 commissioning editor and bad boy
§ Stuart Cosgrove. who proved the ‘ perfect Scottish host. entertaining the
.: opportunity to pitch ideas. The Scottish .
crowd and stimulating debate. As important as the conference sessions was lunch — billed as an
l ﬂag was held high by Colin Cameron. 3 Ros Borland and Andrea Calderwood.
‘ from conference co-sponsors BBC
Scotland. Pursuing my project. a series on European writers. I joined the French table and chatted up Anna Glogowski. commissioning editor for documentaries at Canal Plus. Phone numbers were exchanged and off I went to my next target.
1 left the weekend‘s event networked- out but happy. clutching ﬁfteen business cards and three noted interests from potential broadcasters. The last
2 word had to go to Stuart Cosgrove. who remarked: ‘We all mourn the
haemorrhaging of Scottish talent to
London and across the pond. However.
unknown to most. we do have a Scottish ﬁlm industry . . . it‘s in
I0 The List 18 November-d December 1994
TEXAS CHEERLEADER- MURDEBING MOM
Or, to give it its full title, The Positively True Adventures Of The Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom (15, First Independent, rental). As that handy word ‘alleged’ indicates, this factually-based tale keeps an ironic distance from its subject, preferring a tongue-in-cheek look at the tabloid fervour and dollar bill greed in the eyes of the protagonists without going overboard into the black parody of Serial Mom.
A few years back, the American tabloids revelled in the antics of Texan housewife Wanda Holloway, who tried to get her brother-in-law to find a hitman willing to knock off the mother
of her daughter’s main rival for school cheerleader. He, however, goes to the police, and when the case comes to court, the TV shows, film producers and supermarket pulp writers descend on the small town like vultures.
Oscar winner Holly Hunter gives a sassy edge to this deeply unlikeable woman, who seems genuinely bewildered by the media lights and the suggestion that you shouldn’t do everything possible for your kids. Director Michael Ritchie slyly blends fact and fiction, interspersing this film’s ‘interview’ with ‘Wanda’ between dramatised episodes. A brilliantly funny take on an ultra- competitive society that seems somehow appropriate on the small screen, although subsequent cinema repertory screenings wouldn’t be amiss. (AM)
I Kika ( IS) The ‘Almodovar' name carries with it a recognisable taste and texture. which. in the case of Kiku. is the same as usual. only more so.
M ake-up artists. pervy novelists. porn stars on the run. lesbian maids are the diverse elements thrown into a plot more for titillation than narrative drive in what must be the director‘s most design-conscious movie to date. All this makes it ajoy to look at.
but it‘s surface without substance. The thriller aspects don't gel. but at least Victoria Abril in camcorder combat gear is allowed to steal the show. (lilectric)
I Heart Of Darkness ( 15) Joseph Conrad's classic short novel should be ripe for ﬁlm adaptation. But even with his customary flashes back and forward. Nicolas Roeg can't hype up the necessary sense of
dark inevitability the story
requires. The spectre of the insane Kurtz hangs over the entire ﬁlm. but John Malkovich’s slack- jawed figure is something of a let-down. Tim Roth. however. is excellent: at the outset. Roth's modern acting style appropriately sets the somewhat naive Marlowe against his period surroundings but. as the character grows in conﬁdence. Roth gives him a hard-won dignity. (Reflective)
I M Butterfly (15) Since
moving from the horror
ﬁeld. David Cronenberg has suffered from industry and public perceptions that don't know how to pinpoint his latest work. .‘Vuker/ [.Illtt‘ll may have been an idiosyncratic piece of genius. btrt his adaptation of the long- running stage play falls well short of all we had hoped. Jeremy Irons is good as the diplomat who has an affair with a Peking Opera star. but perhaps Cronenberg‘s eye isjust too cold for this type of material. (Warner) I If you can endure the constant mugging to the camera. you might enjoy Jim Carrey in the hugely successful Ace Ventura: Pet Detective ( (2. Warner); George Romero
and Stephen King team up
again for the big scare melodramatics of The Dark Half (18. 20:20 Vision). and there is plenty of guaranteed couch potato action in the futuristic prison world of No Escape (15. Guild).
I Wild Target ( 15) London's biggest foreign language box office success of the year. this French black comedy about an ageing hitman comes across like Mun Bites Dug with old-school manners and finesse. Jean (I'l(lfl'(/I'(’.\'.\‘(’I' '.v Hus/mild) Roclrefort plays Victor. a 55-year-old assassin who. along with his new pupil Guillame Depardieu. ﬁnds himself playing bodyguard to art forger and compulsive thief Marie Trintignant. An amiable farce of superior quality. (Tartan £15.99) I Ma Saison Preférée
( 15) Precision acting from Catherine Deneuve and Daniel Auteuil is one of many reasons to seek out this character-driven drama from Andre Techine about the strained reiationship of a brother and sister. brought together again when their mother shows signs of declining health. Sibling
conﬂicts tussle with genuine affection in this all-round distinguished production. (Arrow £15.99)
I Plein Soleil (PU) Rene Clement‘s adaptation of Patricia llighsmith's 'lYir' 'lir/e/rlr'il .1Ir Rip/er combines the novel‘s noir elements with sun-backed Mediterranean seascapes. as handsome Tom Ripley (Alain Delon as his icy- eyed best) kills his friend and takes on his identity. yacht and girlfriend. A cracking thriller from 1959. also known in some quarters under the title Purple .Vmui. (Lighthouse £14.99)
I Highway Patrolman
( 15) The plot of an idealistic young cop leaving college. then gradually falling prey to the corruption of life on the streets is familiar enough from countless American film treatments. What sets Alex Cox's movie apart is its Mexican locale (shot in a manner —- titles. music. landscape --
appropriate to a spaghetti western) and the individual feistiness of all the characters. 1t's an organic piece. that slowly builds from its opening scenes into an action drama that gives insight into its central character‘s complicated position. (Tartan £15.99)
I If you fancy doing some early Christmas shopping. check out: The Avengers 1—10 Box Set (PG. Lumiere £99.99). with nine Emma Peel episodes and one with Tara King; The All New Adventures Of Thomas The Tank Engine And Friends (1}. Video Collection £9.99) with new characters and old favourites; new children's superhero craze Mighty Morph’n Power Rangers Vols 5 8r 6 (U. PolyGram £9.99 each). and a quartet of early rarities in the Hitchcock Box Set (PG. Lumiere £22.99) — Rich And Strange. The Skin Game. Murder and Number Seventeen.