Film industry rec

The future looks bright for Scotland’s film industry following the announcement of a £200,000 grant from the Scottish Arts Council. The funding for Moonstone International Screen Labs will provide opportunities for budding Scots filmmakers to learn from top industry professionals.

Modelled on Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute in the United States - which nurtured the talent of director Quentin Tarantino - Moonstone will deliver high level training in film direction and scriptwriting. Competition for the places is likely to be tough.

The project was initiated by Scottish writer/producer John McGrath and Screen Training Ireland following discussions with Robert Redford and the Sundance Institute.

Previous Sundance schemes have resulted in films such as Reservoir Dogs, Copland, Devil In A Blue Dress, She’s

The One and El Norte.

Moonstone Artistic Director McGrath welcomed the SAC decision. ’The idea of the project was always agreed between Robert Redford and myself as a combined Scots-Irish initiative,’ he said. 'This award has just done that and we are very excited about it.’

The first Screenwriters’ Lab in Scotland takes place in Skye next month, when twelve new screenwriters will benefit from the expertise of industry professionals. These include Callie Khouri (Thelma & Louise), Tom Rickman (The Coalminer’s Daughter), Susan Shilliday (Legends Of The Fall) and Julian Mitchell (Wilde). In the future, Scotland will also host a directors lab for eight

talented youngsters.

Moonstone was set up two years ago with around £400,000 from Screen Training Ireland, Scottish Screen and the European Union's training programme Media. The SAC funding demonstrates Scotland’s commitment to the project. In practical terms it will cover the cost of one Filmmaker Lab and the salary of a fund-raiser.

eives double boost

Over the moon: Robert Redford's Sundance Institute supports its Scottish cousin

Magnus Linklater, the SAC chairman, said: ’In addition to establishing Scotland as a European centre of

excellence, Moonstone will raise the profile of Scottish

film by attracting internationally recognised filmmakers. It will also help to validate the Scottish film industry and increase the number of films with a Scottish subject matter or perspective.‘

Hailed as a great success, the first set of Screen Labs were held last year in Connemara, Ireland with mentors including Antonia Bird and Shane Connaughton.

In a double whammy for the film industry, further good news came with the Scottish Enterprise announcement of plans to create a £5 million film studio complex. Still in the proposal stages, the studio complex will provide a focus for Scotland‘s entire film industry.

Intended to compete at a UK and international level,

speculation suggests it is likely to be located within the Glasgow area where the vast majority of the country’s film and television technical crews are currently located.

If given the go-ahead, work on the complex would start at the end of 1999, with completion anticipated in the year 2001. (Claire Prentice)

Capital cuts the arts

Across the board grant cuts were imposed by Edinburgh City Council last week putting an ever tighter squeeze on the capital's arts programme. The International Festival, the Fringe, the Film and Book Festivals, the Lyceum Theatre and Assembly Theatre are among those hit as a result of the Council’s continuing funding problems.

The cuts, averaging 8%-13%, will put additional pressure on already over-stretched arts budgets. One of the hardest hit this year will be the Edinburgh International Festival losing £73,000. This will make it increasingly difficult for them to maintain their policy of offering tickets from £5, promoting the widest possible access to the Arts.

National companies will also be forced to share a funding pool down 44% on last year and Assembly Theatre, the Fringe's super venue faces a combined grant cut and rent rise totalling over £100,000. This could mean cancellation of their entire Festival programme.

The problems caused by the cuts were highlighted by an emotional press release from the Lyceum Theatre stating '13% Council Cuts makes the Children Suffer'. It was claimed that a budget drop of £58,000 jeopardised their production for the forthcoming Childrens’ Festival.

On a more positive note, the Council has now given the go ahead to the Festival City Theatres Trust and will be looking to support audience development initiatives. (Neil Cooper) I See Stage Whispers, page 60.

And finally. . . Surgeons out up as homeless soldier on

THERE'S FEW THINGS worse than having to admit to something when you’ve been caught red-handed. A bit like George Michael, really. After years of having girls screaming at him and his shuttlecock shorts, it comes as little surprise to anyone that he would have been more keen on their less vocal brothers. Yet, all this fuss would have made a marginally smaller dent in column inches had he done what, no doubt, many of his closest friends were imploring him to do for years - come out of the closet. And if he has nothing to be ashamed of, why was he so keen to keep it all so secret in the past?

IT’S TAKEN A while for anyone in authority to admit that the Child Support Agency needs anything between an overhaul to complete scrapping, but at last there appears to be some change on the way. It

22TIIEIJ8‘I’ 16—30 Apr 1998

Taking the wham rap: Michael

comes in the shape of a Green Paper on plans to revamp the system so that the measly 25% of earnings which can currently be removed from male pockets is reduced to around 15%. Unfortunately, it has taken almost 50 men to kill themselves before action has been taken.

NEXT TIME YOU wander past a beggar looking for some spare change, just ponder on who that might be. The MoD have admitted that anything up to 30% of street folks may have been in the armed forces. This could explain why so many of them are cheerful due to their practice in sleeping rough. Perhaps that homeless person has fought for the right for you to decide not to give him any spare change. Or maybe you’re intrigued by the MoD statement that ’going around at night in

camouflage with a knife between your teeth isn’t a skill people value in Ciwy Street’. The source clearly hasn’t been in Perth at kicking-out time.

ANYONE WHO HAS a fear of going under the surgeon’s knife will be reassured to hear that the Royal College of Surgeons has admitted that maybe it’s time we made the odd check on the docs. You know, just to make sure they know what they’re doing, and stuff. One consultant argues that medicine is a heavily self-regulating profession with colleagues looking out for one another - been watching too much ER, this bloke. ’Gone are the days when you had to sleep with a patient or assault a patient to be in trouble. Now all you have to do is not look after them.’ I think I missed something here.

(Brian Donaldson)