A busy fortnight for Scottish films

As the title says, it’s been a busy fortnight for Scottish films, or rather the Scottish film industry. Of course, quite how much of an industry we have is worthy of debate, but for the purposes of this post I’m going to gloss over the intricacies.

Last week saw the release in Scottish cinemas of the excellent new Irvine Welsh adaptation, Filth, starring James McAvoy as a bent Edinburgh copper. I reviewed the film for the Edinburgh Evening News, giving it the newspaper’s first ever seven-out-of-seven review (I’m not entirely sure why it’s out of seven these days but it does mean it’s well worth seeing).

I also interviewed McAvoy for MovieMail and the film’s director, Jon S Baird, for ReelScotland, both of whom were delighted at the response around the country. The audio of my McAvoy interview is now live:

We’ve also got the release this week in UK cinemas of Proclaimers musical, Sunshine on Leith. I first reviewed the stage play back in 2010 and was intrigued to see how it would transfer to the big screen. The answer is very well indeed, and my review went up on the Evening News site a few weeks ago following the Edinburgh premiere.

Finally, this week’s Evening News column rounds-up the various Scottish films out now or coming soon.

Here’s hoping this run of good luck continues and we have a few more locally made films on the big screen in the coming year.

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Filming on Coll and Tiree

Last month I once again followed the Screen Machine on her travels around Scotland, this time visiting the islands of Coll and Tiree as part of the cinema’s 15th anniversary celebrations.

I’ve been co-ordinating a number of events since February, and the cinema’s first visit to Coll (population 200) and return visit to Tiree (population 800) after an 11 year absence, was one to record for posterity.

The film can now be watched over on the Creative Scotland website.

New iPad magazine in iTunes

HOSF cover

It was just over a year ago that I wrote about a new iPad magazine I’d worked on for the Highlands of Scotland Film Commission.

Earlier this year, I headed up to Skye to start work on issue two of the magazine, interviewing a number of local filmmakers and educators. I visited Sabhal Mòr Ostaig college to speak to staff, while Chris Young, producer of The Inbetweeners, discussed his base on Skye.

The app also features a look around Skye’s best filming locations and a few other features of interest to production teams planning to shoot in the area.

Chris Young video

Alongside the written content, this issue includes some short video interviews I filmed/edited during the trip.

The magazine can now be downloaded for free over on iTunes for iPad and iPhone.

Noah Baumbach interview on Radio Scotland

Recorded back in June at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, my interview with US film director, Noah Baumbach, was broadcast on the BBC Radio Scotland Culture Studio last Thursday.

Baumbach was in town for screenings of his latest low budget drama, Frances Ha, the story of a young New Yorker, Frances (Greta Gerwig), trying to find her way in the world.

The interview starts at around 25 minutes and should be on iPlayer until Sunday.

Revealing the secrets of Wikileaks

I’ve been quiet on this site for the last month or so, busy covering the Edinburgh International Film Festival for BBC Radio Scotland’s Culture Studio and the Edinburgh Evening News.

While my opening night EIFF review is online, my interview with its star Felicity Jones aired on the BBC a month or so ago, so is long gone from iPlayer.

Last week saw another of my interviews air, this time with the director of Wikileaks: We Steal Secrets, a look at the facts behind the muddled story of Julian Assange and his infamous website. I spoke to Alex Gibney for around 10 minutes ahead of the film’s Edinburgh premiere, and a few minutes of that was broadcast from around the 22 minute mark.

Much Ado about Joss Whedon

Joss Whedon at Glasgow Film Festival

Joss Whedon at Glasgow Film Festival

As a long time fan of Joss Whedon’s work, be it Buffy, Angel, Firefly or any number of other projects, I was delighted to get the chance to interview him for this week’s Culture Studio on BBC Radio Scotland.

He was in Scotland to promote his latest film, Much Ado About Nothing, and he explained how he came to make the Shakespeare adaptatation with a group of friends from his numerous films and TV series.

The interview begins at around the 1 hour 39 mark on iPlayer.

Byzantium feature on BBC Culture Studio

Gemma Arterton

Gemma Arterton, Saoirse Ronan and Neil Jordan are three of the team behind new independent horror film, Byzantium, which opened in the UK last week.

I interviewed the two actresses and director at the recent Glasgow Film Festival and the end result ended up on the BBC Culture Studio last Thursday. The episode is still on iPlayer for another few days.

My interview with Joss Whedon, director of the upcoming Much Ado About Nothing, should be broadcast in a week or two.

Launching Screen Machine’s 15th anniversary

Screen Machine, Scotland's mobile cinema, visits Edinburgh

I spent last Thursday beside the Scottish Parliament with Screen Machine, Scotland’s mobile cinema, as it made a rare visit to the capital for its 15th anniversary launch.

As Project Coordinator for the anniversary, I’ve been working for the last few months on a programme of activities around the Highlands, Argyll & Bute, North Ayrshire and Western Isles, with a series of special screenings and one day film festivals currently being prepared.

As well as showing some independent and short films, the cinema will visit a number of new islands, including Eigg and Rum, and will make a return visit to the Orkney islands of Sanday, Stronsay, Westray and Hoy.

News of our first anniversary film, We Are Northern Lights, the crowdsourced documentary, hit the papers at the start of last week, while our Parliament visit saw Michael Russell, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, help launch our new programme. Children from Bruntsfield Primary came along to watch some short films on the cinema.

I was on the BBC Culture Studio today to discuss the project and there should be more in the national and local press as the year goes on.

Head over to www.screenmachine.co.uk/sm15 to find out more.

New BBC Culture Studio reports

Jason Isaacs

Last November I was sent by BBC Radio Scotland to North Queensferry, on the outskirts of Edinburgh, to attend filming of the second season of detective drama, Case Histories.

My interview with actor Jason Isaacs was transmitted today on the BBC Culture Studio – you can hear the segment from around 1 hour and two minutes in.

I was also on the show yesterday with a report from the Palais des Festivals in Cannes, the building where the great and the good gather each year for the Cannes Film Festival. You can hear my interview with Philippe Octo from around 9 minutes in.

I was in Cannes back in January while compiling my Côte d’Azur Film Traveller blog, which I’m still publishing at the rate of one blog post per week.

Set jetting on the Côte d’Azur

Web Banners

Back in January I mentioned that I’d just returned from a 10-day trip to the Côte d’Azur as a guest of the local tourist board, who were keen to highlight the region’s film connections to potential visitors.

Since then I’ve been putting together a new blog, www.filmtravellercotedazur.com, which will see me cover the trip via blog posts, photos and video content over the next few months.

Filming near the village of Eze

Filming near the village of Eze

The blog launched in Paris a fortnight ago (I sadly couldn’t make it to the event), with the following, slightly tongue-in-cheek, trailer announcing our plans:

There are plenty more towns and villages still to come on the blog and it’s been fascinating researching the numerous film connections since my return home.

Along with my 2012 tour of locations used in the Disney-Pixar film, Brave, it’s been a good time for set jetting.

Film Appreciation in Edinburgh

A quick plug for my appearance on last week’s BBC Movie Café, in which I interview members of an Edinburgh adult education course who attend a monthly film screening at the city’s Cameo cinema.

The group, mainly comprised of retired film fans, have been meeting for the last 15 years and after featuring the story on my own site, ReelScotland, I pitched the story to BBC Radio Scotland, who sent me along to a screening of Argo.

I interviewed a handful of members, edited it and passed it onto the producer a few weeks ago – it’ll be on the iPlayer for another few days (it starts around 25 minutes into the programme).

 

Celebrating rural cinema with Screen Machine 15

Screen Machine at Gruinard Bay

Last year I wrote a few posts about my work with Scotland’s mobile cinema, the Screen Machine, which takes the latest films to remote and rural areas of Scotland throughout the year.

My role was mainly to manage social media and promote the cinema in the press, including getting out and about around Scotland to make some short videos about the Screen Machine’s work.

Screen Machine on Mull from Screen Machine on Vimeo.

Aware that 2013 was the 15th anniversary of the cinema, I began working on an idea for a year of celebrations which would allow us to attempt to do more with the programme. While the Screen Machine is about to break its own box office records in 2012/13 thanks to titles such as Brave and Skyfall, there’s never been an opportunity to carry out the sort of special screenings and film events that are taken for granted in large towns and cities.

Now, after a successful application to Creative Scotland’s Public Engagement fund, I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be I’ll be devising, organising and helping to deliver a series of film-related screenings, events and education workshops around the Highlands and Islands as part of what we’re calling “Screen Machine 15” – there’s more detail on the website.

It’s still early days for the project but things are moving apace behind the scenes, with the full programme available in May.

Glasgow Film Festival coverage

Joss Whedon at Glasgow Film Festival

Joss Whedon at Glasgow Film Festival

The 2013 Glasgow Film Festival finished a week ago, eleven days of premieres and special events which brought filmmakers and film fans to the Glasgow Film Theatre and other venues around the city.

This year found me covering the event for the BBC Movie Café, interviewing actors such as James D’Arcy for Cloud Atlas and Gemma Arteron and Saoirse Ronan for Byzantium, while writer/director Joss Whedon was in town to promote his low-budget adaptation of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.

My overview of the Festival aired last Thursday on BBC Radio Scotland – it’s on iPlayer for the next few days.

I also visited the brand new BFI Mediatheque at Bridgeton Library, a resource which houses thousands of hours of film and TV which would otherwise be unavailable. I took my iPhone along and recorded a video interview with Mediatheque curator, Simon McCallum for ReelScotland.

Terence Stamp on BBC Movie Cafe

Terence Stamp for BBC Movie Cafe

A few weeks ago I had an opportunity to interview the legendary British actor, Terence Stamp, for the BBC Movie Cafe.

Terence was in Edinburgh to promote his latest film, low budget drama Song for Marion, in which he stars alongside Vanessa Redgrave as a man trying to come to terms with his wife’s ailing health and decision to join a local choir.

The interview is up on the BBC iPlayer, with an extra question, not used in the final radio feature, now on Audioboo.

Location spotting on the French Riviera

Film Traveller looking onto Cap Ferrat

After 10 days of travel in the Côte d’Azur for my latest project, I’m now getting down to the task of organising a few thousand photos and hours of video into something that might make sense for a dedicated blog.

Jacques Tati mural in Cannes

Jacques Tati mural in Cannes

The trip found me touring various towns and villages around the French Riviera as I tried to track down some of the locations used in films over the years, including Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief. I met some fantastic people, found some places that I’d previously only watched my TV set and wondered why I hadn’t visited the region before.

I’ll have more details on the blog’s launch in a few weeks time.

Jon Melville in Porsche Speedster