Archive for Rounding Up Donkeys

Three Women

Posted in FILM, Television with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 27, 2009 by dcairns

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An entire film industry in female form: producer Angela Murray, writer Fiona Watson and director Morag McKinnon.

First came the shoes. Fiona seemed to have quite a lot of shoes, and our floordrobe was cluttered with them. It seemed ironic that we couldn’t walk anywhere in our flat for all the shoes. So Fiona bought a big steel shoe rack, which hooks onto a door, covering one side. But she only hung a couple of belts on it, and the Shoe Problem remained. Then she bought three big plastic boxes (each big enough to swallow an old portable TV like the one I watched ZOLTAN HOUND OF DRACULA on in my bedroom aged 15). But she seemed to be too busy to actually put anything in them.

So on Saturday morning I started putting away shoes and boots, ending with three boxes brimming with boots and an entire door decorated with shoes, so that you could take it off its hinges and use it as a wooden centipede, if you needed one. When Fiona came home and actually saw how many items of footwear she owned she started laughing hysterically. Because what else can you do when you suddenly discover you’re Imelda Marcos?

Imelda and I are currently redrafting CELL 6, a psychological horror thriller, for Edinburgh producer Eddie Dick — in fact, that’s probably what we should be doing right now. A new step outline by the 11th, please.

Off to Glasgow, where producing supremo Angelatook us to a Persian restaurant (hint: if you order the starters, you don’t need a main course) where I ate myself into a state of planetoid girth, complete with volcanic activity. Thence to Angela’s favourite bar, where I think I rather offended Angela by referring to it as “a suburb of hell” (sorry!), to be joined by Morag, who was upbeat about her upcoming film, which Sigma Productions seem to be calling DONKEYS, referred to here earlier under its working title ROUNDING UP DONKEYS (which is what they should call it). I’m really bursting to see this, since Morag and her writer Colin McLaren are among the great hopes of Scottish cinema, and since I’ve heard all kinds of onset reports that make me eager, anxious, excited, nervous, in equal measures.

Unfortunately, I’m sworn to secrecy on most of these stories. Even reproducing Angela’s stories about dealing with directors might be indiscrete, although I’m of the view that it’s a masterclass in diplomacy and would be beneficial to share with prospective producers everywhere. Maybe if we can get Angela in to lecture at the Art College she can pass on some of her wisdom and compassion.

Glasgow Kiss*

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 14, 2008 by dcairns

The rat-infested city of Glasgow!

Glasgow

What? Pictures don’t lie!

Hence, last Thursday night, for an evening of birthday celebrations with Morag McKinnon and Colin McLaren, respectively director and screenwriter of the forthcoming Scottish feature ROUNDING UP DONKEYS.

Facts gathered at this gathering:

1) ROUNDING UP DONKEYS may be ready by the time of next year’s Berlin Film Festival, in which case, watch out Germany.

2) Writer-director Hannah Robinson has won a smashing prize, the American Screenwriters’ Association International Screenplay Competition Grand Prize, for FIREWORKS, a script she co-wrote with Jonathan Hall. The pair hope to hit L.A., get agents and sell projects and get work and all that lovely stuff.

3) Popular beat combo Belle and Sebastian are preparing a feature film. I couldn’t find out much about this, since my informant was the band’s drummer. “The title, even?” “Sorry.”

Also present: Living Human People I don’t see nearly often enough: filmmaker Jez Curnow; cinematographer and all round good egg Kenneth Simpson; filmmaker and gendernaut Travis Reeves and his sister Helen, musician; actress/super-being Anita Vettesse; monster-maker Stephen Murphy — and many more! Collect ’em all!

*Glasgow, Scotland’s other capital, has, like France, lent its name to a special kind of kiss.

“I am not a mung seed.”

Posted in FILM, literature, Theatre with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 3, 2008 by dcairns

A Scottish Kenneth Williams?

A treat for you! DIARY OF A MADMAN is a half-hour short directed by Morag McKinnon back in the ’90s, written by and starring Colin McLaren, based on the story by Nikolai Gogol. Morag, assisted by Travis Reeves has planted the thing on YouTube in three bite-sized morsels, to be enjoyed by all.

I edited the film! I don’t recall there being that much work involved in that — the long-take style employed meant that 90% of the work was done when I’d removed the clapperboards. But I had a good time with the sound effects, which I roughed in before Bronek Korda and Derek Livesey at BBC Scotland mixed things and thinned it down and took out all the distracting stuff I’d tried. Looking at it now the editing seems the weakest thing about it. As it goes on there are fewer match cuts and it gets better and better. My choice of when to dissolve or fade looks alarmingly random though.

The Scotsman newspaper rightly praised the film as a minimalist masterpiece and bemoaned the fact that the talents emerging from Edinburgh College of Art’s film department weren’t finding the financial support to create a new wave of Scottish cinema. That might be finally changing, with former E.C.A. students like Travis, Morag, Martin Radich and Sarah Gavron all making feature films recently. The idea that it takes the U.K. film industry ten years to spot new talent isn’t too encouraging, but at least it’s happening.

Madman McLaren, seen here in full flow, has scripted Morag’s forthcoming tragi-comic feature ROUNDING UP DONKEYS. Although almost pathologically sane, to quote Herzog, Colin has a rare handle on insanity in his writing that’s reminiscent of Spike Milligan. Here he deftly interweaves original gags with Gogol material. You can’t see the join!

I’m sorry that Colin hasn’t done more acting of late — I think Morag would like to tempt him back, but I don’t blame him from withdrawing — he did a bunch of student films, which must have been a bit tiresome at times, but he also had several theatrical triumphs, playing Hamlet, the M.C. in Cabaret and creating a theatrical version of MADMAN in which Morag appeared.

Colin’s work here is even more impressive here given that he had a cold during the three nights of filming. And swinging those shoes round his neck nearly sawed his head off.

I’m impressed all over by Kenneth Simpson’s 16mm photography. I recall we had one shot that was out of focus, which we ditched — the only out-take! I think it featured the conclusion of the Fat Patsy “sub-plot”. The rear projection worked great, and the long take at the end now seems… rather brave!

Apologies if the inter-titles are hard to read — they are on 16mm too!

“I’m not right glad the now.”

More Gogol madness soon!