Trouble Speaking

Eddie Dick is an Edinburgh-based film producer and former head of Scottish Screen, the organisation for the promotion of film in Scotland. Fiona and I have known him for a few years, but only just this last week actually started sort-of working with him, with a horror screenplay called CELL 6.

Eddie’s most recent film, TROUBLE SLEEPING, directed by Robert Rae and made in association with Edinburgh’s Theatre Workshop, has its TV premier on BBC2 Scotland tonight at 10pm. I emailed him some questions about himself and his movie, and received the following fantastically frank answers:

Edinburgh!

Q: Who are you and where did you come from?

A: I TAKE IT THAT THIS IS NOT A CABBAGE-PATCH QUESTION.  EDDIE DICK, FROM A VARIED EDUCATIONAL/CULTURAL/FILM INDUSTRY BACKGROUND.
 
Q: How did you come to be a film producer?

A: A COLLISION OF ACCIDENT,OPPORTUNITY AND INTENTION.   I CAME AT IT FROM A EDUCATIONAL AND THEN CULTURAL ROUTE WHICH LEAD ME GRADUALLY TO THE FILM INDUSTRY ITSELF.   
 
You’ve rubbed up against both the sacred Bills, Douglas and Forsyth, via your book about BD’s COMRADES (which is easier to get hold of than the film itself) and a much-publicised-locally “row” with Forsyth during your time at Scottish Screen.

(Forsyth, having briefly served on the Scottish Screen committee, accused the organisation of “cronyism” and a “lack of transparency”, words which the media, particularly The Scotsman newspaper, soon had attached to Scottish Screen the way the word “bogus” is always attached to the words “asylum seekers”. The “Dear Bill” correspondence quickly became notorious, although I’m disappointed to see it doesn’t appear to be on the Internet.)

Q: Any anecdotes, or anything you learned from those experiences? It must be pleasing to you to see the Bill Douglas Trilogy out on DVD at last. 

A: RE BILL FORSYTH, THE MAIN THING I LEARNED WAS TO TRY TO AVOID GOING INTO FIGHTS WITH ONE HAND TIED BEHIND YOUR BACK; FAMOUS FILMMAKER VERSUS LOCAL BUREAUCRAT – THERE’S ONLY GOING TO BE ONE “WINNER”.   WITH THE OTHER BILL, THE MAIN THING IS THAT TALENT (ESPECIALLY THAT WHICH IS TROUBLED) DOESN’T PROTECT YOU AGAINST DEFEAT AND ANGUISH.

Shooting TROUBLE SLEEPING.
 
Q: How did you come to be involved with TROUBLE SLEEPING?

A: I WAS ASKED TO GET INVOLVED IN ITS DEVELOPMENT BY ROBERT RAE.   MY FILM’S BLIND FLIGHT AND TRUE NORTH MADE ME THE OBVIOUS, ALTHOUGH NOT THE ONLY, CHOICE.
 
Q: How was the finance raised?

A: PARTLY THROUGH TW’S SOCIAL/DRAMA CONTACTS AND PARTLY VIA MINE (SCOTTISH SCREEN AND BBC).
 
Q: What were the greatest difficulties in making the film?

A: FINANCE AND CONSTANT FIGHTS BETWEEN ME AND THE DIRECTOR.

Wow.
 
I’m very glad that a film has tackled this subject — asylum seekers — from a humanitarian standpoint. Modern Britain often feels to me much like the dystopias of V FOR VENDETTA and CHILDREN OF MEN (which features TROUBLE SLEEPING’S disabled actor Nabil Shaban in not so much a walk-on as a carry-through performance), and it was good to see that tackled in a less fantastical, more down-to-earth way.


 Gary “GANGS OF NEW YORK” Lewis appears in TROUBLE SLEEPING.

Q: The film mixes experienced professional actors with lots of screen experience in short cameo roles, with lots of newcomers in the major roles. (In this way it somewhat resembles Douglas’s COMRADES.) What was casting like, and was their any difficulty unifying the acting styles.

A: THE FILM WAS CAST FROM THE WORKSHOP’S COMMUNITYAND OPPORTUNISTIC WALKBYS( FOUAD, THE WAITER-CUM-SHOPWORKER SAW A NOTICE IN TW’S WINDOW, FOR EXAMPLE).  ROBERT RAE WAS INSTRUMENTAL IN THE CASTING; I ASKED GARY LEWIS AND ALISON PEEBLES, TO DO US A FAVOUR.

I THINK THAT THERE WAS DIFFICULTY IN UNIFYING STYLES.  THERE REMAINS AN UNEVENNESS IN PERFORMANCE, WITH SOME CLEAR WEAKNESSES.
 
I liked Nabil Shaban in the film. From what Eddie told me, I could see that they’d “hired a volcano then told it not to explode,” as Screamin’ Jay Hawkins complained to Jim Jarmusch re his role in MYSTERY TRAIN. But I like the sense of barely controlled ham, and he DOES keep it in check.
 
Q: What next? From out conversations, it seems like you’re moving towards more genre-based filmmaking? Is this a deliberate policy, or just the result of the projects you’ve found recently?
A: IT IS A DELIBERATE POLICY, BUT NOT AN EXCLUSIVE ONE.   I WANT TO MAKE A BROADER RANGE OF FILMS (HAVING MADE 3 SOCIO-POLITICAL ONES).  I’VE BEEN SEEKING GENRE MATERIAL SUCH AS CELL 6.
Many thanks to Eddie for helping out here.
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9 Responses to “Trouble Speaking”

  1. Greg Shanley Says:

    Hi,
    Id really liked to be involved in the productions going in Edinburgh,if you need actor or extras please let me know.

  2. Eddie Dick is currently shooting his latest production here, you should call him up — I’m sure Makar Productions is listed.

  3. Nabil Shaban Says:

    Is Eddie referring to me as the “volcano they hired and then told not to explode”? Hmmm, Ilike the idea of that. Anyway, you may be interested to know, I am currently in post-production with my directorial TV drama debut<“Morticia”, written, produced and directed by me. Its about a little girl whose only ambition is to be a vampire.

  4. That sounds great! Let us know when it airs. It’s high time they gave you a gig like that.

    I think Eddie was conscious of the difficulty of mixing professional actors like yourself and Gary Lewis with non-professionals who didn’t have the range and power, so the pros’ performances had to be dialed right down. I like the effect, you get a focused intensity without losing the energy. You smolder!

  5. Sadly, no one actually gave me the gig (Morticia). I created it for myself and financed it. Whenit is completed, I will send you a DVD copy. Perhaps you will be able to advise me as to how to distribute it I will, of course, be trying all the usual channels and broadcasting acquisition departments.

  6. I could put you in touch with my friend Sam, who’s been making his own serials and selling them. I’m just about to post a piece plugging his latest offering.

    A note of warning: the name Morticia didn’t exist until the makers of the Addams Family TV show invented it — there COULD be a copyright issue with that.

  7. Thanks, when “Morticia” is finished, I’ll ask you to put me in touch with your friend Sam.

    Also thanks for the warning…but there won’t be a copyright issue. For one thing, the name isn’t a trademark. Secondly, the TV series didn’t actually invent the name, because the series was originally based on a comic strip of “The Addams Family”. Also, if there was a copyright, it would be on the whole name “Morticia Addams”, not on half….that’ why no one ever sued Elvis Costello!!!! Actually there are literally hundreds of products, websites, pets, rock bands, fashion designs and children with the word “Morticia” in their name. Yet no one has yet been sued by the TV series. In fact, I have been informed you can’t own a book or film title. I have had this problem myself. I have just published a novel entitled “The Ripper Code”, which is an adaptation of an original film-script by me, with the same title, which I thought I had invented. The film-script was seen by various people. After the movie proposal failed, I wrote the novel. Because of problems with printers, my novel didn’t come out in December 2007 as I’d planned, but in May 2008. However, by then another book with the title “The Ripper Code”, had been published two months earlier (March 2008). Which I believe is harming the sales of my novel…but there’s nothing I can do about it. I have also written a play entitled “The First To Go” but there’s also a movie with the same title. I have written a screenplay “The Inheritance” and there are countless books and movies with the same title.

  8. Oh yes, my son’s name is “Zenyel”, which I invented in 1990 when he was born. If some Hollywood producer decided to make a movie with that title, I doubt I could claim copyright.

  9. Yes, you can’t copyright a title, but you can trademark it. Sounds like you’re safe if there are lots of other Morticia products.

    In fact the TV series did invent the name, because Charles Addams’ cartoon characters were unnamed — even the name Addams was only attached to them informally, because he was the artist. There was a lawsuit over the Addams Family movie, because of a claim by the TV show rights-holders, but I don’t know the details. Anyhow, the argument was put forward that the movie owed nothing to the TV show, which was obviously not true.

    Zenyel is a great name. But I guess you’re right, you can’t copyright a son, unfortunately. If Hollywood produces an adaptation of your son, they won’t have to pay you a cent.

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