“Have a beer, mate?” It was in January that I first saw 1971′s Wake in Fright at Edinburgh’s Filmhouse cinema, a near-forgotten Australian drama that has now been rediscovered and rereleased.
The film charts a weekend in the life of schoolteacher John Grant (Gary Bond), who visits the outback town of Bundanyabba and finds a kind of Hell waiting for him.
It’s an astonishing film and I’ve no doubt that it’s place in cinema history is been re-evaluated as thanks to this new release.
To mark its return to cinemas and arrival on Blu-ray, I was asked onto the BBC’s Culture Studio to discuss the film, a 10-minute segment that’s on iPlayer for the next week.
I was also able to interview Wake in Fright’s director, Ted Kotcheff, for film retailer, MovieMail.
Finally, I wrote about the film for my Edinburgh Evening News column, recommending everyone tries to catch it at Filmhouse from tomorrow.
It’s taken a few years of procrastinating and a year of carrying out interviews, but I’m finally ready to announce that I’m in the process of writing my first book, all about giant underground worms…
A few years ago I had a feature published in SFX Magazine all about the Tremors film franchise, starring Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward (in the first one at least). With the first film due to celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2015, I’ve been waiting for someone to write the definitive book on all four films and the TV series, but nobody has.
I’ve now taken the job on myself and have interviewed a few dozen cast and crew from all Tremors incarnations for Seeking Perfection: The Unofficial Guide to Tremors.
So, if you’re at all interested in 1990s horror/sci-fi/comedy/Western films that harken back to 1950s B-movies, please head over to the new Seeking Perfection blog or you can follow its progress on Twitter, Facebook or Google+, where I’ll be posting updates.
The book’s not due out until December, so hopefully you can put up with the posts till then…
As well as working with the Screen Machine to coordinate various 15th anniversary events, I’m currently part of the team at Glasgow-based DVD retailer, MovieMail, helping to bring their service to online customers via their website, e-newsletters and social media.
I’ve been a MovieMail customer for a few years and so jumped at the opportunity to join the team to bring quality films to customers. It follows on from my work with Glasgow’s Park Circus, who also focus mainly on classic films.
It helps that Ethical Consumer magazine recently chose MovieMail as the best place to ethically buy DVDs online.
In addition to editing the blog, I’ve contributed a few interviews recently, one with actor James McAvoy and another with the Label Manager at Arrow Films - I plan to publish more in early 2014.
It’s been a couple of years since I last pitched a feature to SFX magazine (that was Tremors in 2011), but I’m back in February 2014′s issue with a new article on 1986′s Short Circuit.
I carried out interviews with the film’s co-creator, SS Wilson, and director, John Badham, and discovered the origins of Johnny Five plus the behind-the-scenes battles to get the film from script to screen. The feature also examines the second film and looks ahead to a possible continuation of the franchise.
Both men were able to supply rare photos and design material from their own archives to help illustrate the feature, making it something special for Short Circuit fans.
The magazine, issue 243, is now available in the shops or it can be downloaded from the iTunes app.
Here are a few rare photos supplied by John Badham from the set of the first film, all copyright Bruce McBroom:
Meeting Local Hero producer Iain Smith and director Bill Forsyth
I was back with the Screen Machine at the start of November, celebrating two iconic Scottish productions as part of the cinema’s 15th anniversary.
Over the course of the previous few months I’d been planning (in association with Natural Scotland on Screen and BAFTA in Scotland) screenings of Bill Forsyth’s Local Hero and the BBC Play for Today, The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil, in locations heavily associated with the films as they celebrated their 30th and 40th anniversaries respectively.
For Local Hero that was in Mallaig and for Cheviot… it was Dornie, both on the West Coast of Scotland, and for both events we managed to secure the presence of key talent associated with the films – for Local Hero that was writer-director Bill Forsyth and producer Iain Smith, while for Cheviot… it was star and co-writer, Bill Paterson.
Post-screening Q&A with Bill Paterson
One of the objectives of the cinema’s 15th anniversary celebration was to stage events around the Highlands and Islands that would normally be prohibitively expensive to run. It’s rare for their to be film screenings outside the usual blockbusters in the cinema.
Screen Machine’s Iain MacColl with Bill Paterson
I also carried out post-film Q&A sessions with those involved and there was an opportunity for the 80-strong audiences to ask questions at both events.
Coverage from the Daily Record and The Herald helped give the Screen Machine some extra publicity, but the main purpose – to give the audience a great night out which didn’t require a trip to an Edinburgh or Glasgow cinema – was achieved that weekend.
It’s been a while since I had a chance to review a theatre production, so I was delighted when The National Theatre of Scotland got in touch to commission me for an article for a tour of David Greig’s Dunsinane.
Dunsinane is Greig’s sequel to Shakespeare’s Macbeth, so the NTS team were keen to feature a piece on sequels in various media, focusing mainly on films and books. A bit of research dug up the fact that there aren’t too many sequels to theatre productions in existence, something I ponder in the article.
The play has now finished its most recent tour but hopefully it’ll be back soon with a reprint of the rather lovely programme.
Today I was finally able to publicly announce a new project I’m working on in collaboration with the BFI and Edinburgh Filmhouse: Missing Believed Wiped (MBW) in Scotland.
I’ve long been an admirer of the MBW initiative at London’s BFI, which has been running for 20 years under the guidance of TV historian, Dick Fiddy.
MBW aims to help raise awareness of missing TV episodes in the press, before screening many of them at the BFI. I’ve known Dick for a few years after meeting him at the Edinburgh TV Festival and we’ve discussed the idea of bringing MBW to Scotland for a while now.
Earlier this year we had word from Filmhouse that they’d like to host the event and I appeared on BBC Radio Scotland today to announce that it will take place at the cinema on Sunday 1 December.
Among the episodes being shown are some 1960s Doctor Who, At Last the 1948 Show (a precursor to Monty Python), music show It’s Lulu and a once lost Sean Connery TV play from 1960, Colombe, which was discovered at the US Library of Congress a few years back.
We’ve also launched a search for missing episodes of Scottish TV series, including Para Handy – Master Mariner, Garnock Way and The Adventures of Francie and Josie – there’s more over on the Filmhouse website.
I’ll be helping to raise awareness of both the search and the December event and hope that this is just the first of a series of Scottish MBW screenings in Scotland.
There’s more from my radio appearance over on the Culture Studio podcast from today, 9 October.
If you’d like to know more about Missing Believed Wiped, feel free to get in touch.