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The Paisley pattern: Duncan Ross, Robin Lang. Russell Barr and Bill Gardiner (front)
Artist, film director and Paisley buddy JOHN BYRNE has achieved his dream with The Slab Boys. He speaks about the movie's creation and the criticism it has attracted. Words: Fiona Shepherd
JOHN BYRNE HAS got himself a serious creative habit. First he tried art — he tasted it. liked it. got hooked. He did that for a bit. but eventually wanted more. He got into writing — it suited him. First there were theatrical works — he scored some palpable hits there. Then. inevitably. be moved on to the harder stuff —
television dramas like Tutti Frutti and Your
C/Iecttin ' Heart.
'l‘hese hits kept him going fora bit. All the time. he was involved with art. With his S/u/i Boys trilogy. he was even able to combine the two — portraits of
It almost goes without saying that Byrne is already considering his next filmic fix. probably (but not definitely) with a screenplay of his own.
All this despite the agonies of sandwiching and editing the first two plays in the trilogy — T/u' Slab Buys and (‘utting A Rug — to form the screenplay. Despite the difficulties in finding a suitable girl to play Lucille. the love interest with attitude (Louise Berry was tested and cast late in the day. when she was spotted arguing in the street). Despite falling ill briefly during
Charmer“ l“ “‘9 PM}? ""6 'Directing a film is like a drug because you
of whom has artistic aspirations himself.
By now. Byrne was in deep. Like so many addicts. he wanted to up the stakes. Most recently. almost inevitably. he got into feature films. not just writing but directing too. It was those Slab Buys again. He can‘t help himself. he just keeps returning to them. Recently he said the film version was a way of ending his relationship with the work. But now. the day after the film Festival premiere. it’s a different story. isn’t it'.’
‘Directing a film is like a drug when you‘re doing it. and shortly after you finish. because you just want to keep doing it.‘ says Byrne. “I want to make the follow-up Still Life in ten years with all the same people and see what happens.‘
just want to keep doing it.’ John Byrne
shooting. And despite the rather lame critical reception to his labour of love.
Reviewers have been quick to label The Slab Buys as style over content. a poorly acted let—down. however impressive its visual realisation. In short. it has been greeted as a disappointing adaptation of a theatrical force.
Byrne is sanguine about the criticism. ‘Some people like the shoes. some people like the dialogue. some people like nothing much.‘ he shrugs. "l'he actors were never realistic. that‘s for sure. but nor did I want them to be. so whatever they were giving me at the time was what I found completely acceptable. 'l‘here‘s a whole heightened thing about it