Monster squad: Grant Mason turns from Trainspotting's dead baby to the creature in Santa Claws
A comic tale about things that go bump on Christmas Night kickstarts this year's Prime Cuts series of shorts by young Scottish filmmakers.
Words: Alan Morrison
When Allison‘s dead baby. wee Dawn. crawled across the bedroom ceiling in Trainspotting. it sent shivers down the backs of audiences thrown into Renton's cold turkey nightmare. Wailing. blue-faced child corpses — not quite all in a day‘s work for Grant Mason. the film‘s Special Visual Effects Designer. but he‘s more than used to dreaming U!) the nastier side of life down at the Scottish Mask And Puppet Centre. Mason‘s latest creation to go into production is the realisation of every child's night-time fear — the Monster l‘nder The Bed. But in Santa Clan-s. the first of the short films in this year's Prime Cuts series to go before the cameras. things aren‘t quite as expected. This monster is rather protective of young Kevin. whose bedroom he inhabits. Santa. on the other hand. is more of a terror. all fired tip on those glasses of whisky that children
across the world have left for him in the rosy glow of
‘Scary. bttt not grotesquer scary.‘ is how Mason describes the brief he received for the monster from the film‘s director. Saul Metzstein. ‘Saul wanted a gremlin idea — gremlins seem quite funny and quite scary. but not evil. Quite cocky and cheeky as well. You do try to build some kind of personality into the creature. and sometimes people can see yourself in
'We wanted a gremlin idea — gremlins seem quite funny and quite scary, but not evil. Quite cocky and cheeky as well.’
the sculpture. I‘ve heard that a few times in the past. But not this time. thankfully.’
For Mason. designing and building a creature sculpture presented something of a challenge within a Scottish film industry where most of his work involves odd prosthetics jobs and making small props. Working in the monster realm harks back to the period he spent at the end of the 805 with renowned effects company Image Animation. which included a stint supervising the foam department on Clive Barker‘s Night/72th and devising the skin for the film‘s monsters.
‘There is a small market here and I think I’ve pretty much filled it.‘ adds Mason. who is equally at home with ‘deid boadies' on Taggart as puppets like Morag The Highland Cow on children‘s TV. ‘lt seems to have taken off. because obviously the film industry in Scotland has grown in recent years.‘
Part of that growth was the introduction last year of the Prime Cuts scheme. an initiative from the Scottish Film Production Fund. British Screen and Scottish
Television. liach year. six projects are given £23,000
to make a short film of around five minutes on standard Ibmm. The aim is to create an opportunity for young filmmakers with perhaps a couple of shorts under their belt to stretch out into more experimental or demanding territory — a bridge. perhaps. to the higher profile and bigger budget Tartan Shorts.
Aside from Santa Claws. 1997‘s Prime Cuts — which shoot throughout March and April — range from Friend/y l'ntt‘t’s'. a character—driven drama about a slightly schizopl'irenic man and his health visitor which is based on a Dilys Rose story. to Bite. a revenge-is- sweet comedy directed by Brian Ross. All-female teams are behind Thicker Than Water and Water/(m. while writer-director Andy Goddard brings us Little Sisters.
Santa Claws and the other Prime Cuts shorts be shown in cinemas and on Scottish Television later in the year.
The column that calls the shots on big screen stars.
SEAN CONNERY is the first subject of a BBC programme that adapts the Edinburgh Film Festival's Scene By Scene format for television. Former Festival Director Mark Cousins is the man grilling Connery on his career while the actor talks in detail about specific key scenes from his work. The programme was recorded on Saturday 15 March and is due for broadcast in April alongside a week- long season of Connery’s films. If the format is a success, Cousins could find himself at the helm of a whole series.
EWAN McGREGOR gets back in front of the cameras in late March after a well deserved break for Todd (Safe) Haynes’s Velvet Goldmine, the story of a journalist searching for a missing glam rock star in the early 70s. Those who thought McGregor's hair was looking a bit retro in recent tabloid photos can rest easy - it's only for the role, not for keeps. There are also rumours that McGregor might be teaming up again with Trainspotting's lonny Lee Miller (and Shopping's Jude Law) for a version of novelist Christopher Fowler's suburbian horror-satire Psychoville.
DAVID CRONENBERG'S CRASH is still being denied a UK cinema release, but the Canadian director has already announced his next project, a $40 million sci-fi movie called eXistenZ. It’s set in the near future, when video game designers hold world power, and the title refers to a virtual reality game with technology so real it borders on biology. Videodrome for the 90s, no
A ONE-OFF EVlTA POSTER signed by Madonna and props from forthcoming sci-fi movie Event Horizon are among the unique items up for auction at Crusaid's third Academy Awards Party at the Edinburgh Filmhouse on Monday 24 March. Film fans can also catch preview screenings of Romeo And Juliet and Dante’s Peak, plus watch the v.hole Oscar ceremony live. Tickets cost £15 and are available now from the Filmhouse box office, with proceeds going towards projects working in education and
care for HIV and AIDS.
Sean Connery: Bond and beyond for
telly Scene By Scene
21 Mar—3 Apr 1997TllELl8T21