AS WE anticipate the outcome of this year’s Scottish Baftas, talents both established and fledgling reveal why our national film and TV industry is thriving
GILLIAN BERRIE and SIOBHAN REILLY
GILLIAN BERRIE, DIRECTOR AND FOUNDER OF FILM CITY
She is co-director of Sigma Films (Hallam Foe, Red Road and Perfect Sense), which created Citadel, nominated for the Best Feature Film Bafta. Founder of Glasgow’s movie industry hub Film City, Berrie has put Glasgow at the centre of Scotland’s film and TV industry and is flying the flag for getting a film studio in Scotland. She is currently working on a prison film and Greenland Time, which will start shooting next year.
ON SIOBHAN REILLY: I think she’s an incredible talent and to get the attention of Ken Loach you have got to be damn good. He has an incredible eye. She can use that to her own advantage and also to make a real difference to the acting community here because there aren’t enough chances for female talent.
She has versatility, a strength and a core. She’s prepared to go all the way, and I think in Scotland generally we have a confidence problem but she has the ability to rise above it and that will carry her. I’m hoping she will make a difference. It’s a male-dominated industry but there are some fantastic women in the business and we need more roles and opportunities for people like Siobhan to break through. The talent is there.
SIOBHAN REILLY, ACTRESS (ABOVE RIGHT)
Nominated for a Best Actor Bafta for her role in this year’s Ken Loach’s hit The Angels’ Share. As well as appearing in The Bill and River City, plus theatre roles, Reilly also works as a primary school supply teacher. With degrees in acting from RSAMD and teaching from Glasgow University, she’s well qualified to do both.
ON GILLIAN BERRIE: As a female in the film industry, it’s important to have a role model and she has worked her way up from nothing. She had a vision and went out and made it happen. She also has a bigger vision for the Scottish film industry and set up Film City, which pushes all areas forward and is providing opportunities.
Gillian has also created jobs for me and given me opportunities that wouldn’t have existed without her help. Before she set up Sigma, there were fewer acting opportunities for us all. She gives me the motivation to keep going.
Paul Murray and Gabriel Robertson
PAUL MURRAY, TV DEVELOPER
Head of Objective Scotland (Peep Show and Derren Brown). He was previously creative director at STV and was responsible for the BBC’s Antiques Roadtrip, The Dark Side of Fame with Piers Morgan and You Can’t Fire Me I’m Famous for Crackit Productions and Endemol. Murray also produced the pilot and first series of Location, Location, Location for Channel 4.
ON GABRIEL ROBERTSON, WRITER: I met Gabriel through a friend when I was at STV and he showed me his scripts. He was something different, someone who wanted to do comedy, and that impressed me because you meet a lot of people who want to be documentary-makers. It takes discipline so I thought he was worth keeping an eye on. His scripts are funny, clever and they work.
He has also written for EastEnders. I like talking about TV with him, going into the minutiae, conducting a critical autopsy. I would love to give him a job. I’ve put a couple of his scripts forward at our London arm. So it’s fingers crossed.
GABRIEL ROBERTSON, WRITER (right)
Inspired at the tender age of six by the gift of a box set that included Brian Cox in Manhunter, Robertson cut his writing teeth on a series of internships at the likes of Channel 4 and Glasgow Film Office. He was chosen for the Media Guardian talent scheme at the Edinburgh TV Festival in 2007 and the Festival’s Ones to Watch talent scheme in 2010. BBC Scotland’s River City team asked him to write their new series, which led to him being head-hunted by the creators of EastEnders, where he worked on the controversial baby-swap story, the most-complained-about in television history.
Current projects include his first feature script, Don’t Speak, Scream, optioned by Ivana MacKinnon, associate producer of Slumdog Millionaire, and he was named as One to Watch in Scottish Film by both the Edinburgh and Glasgow film festivals. Being tracked by Film4, he’s working on a high-budget short film called Bucket, a dark comedy about a man with mental health issues who finds a baby in a bin.
ON PAUL MURRAY:
He’s all right. No, I think he’s great. This industry has a reputation for people stabbing you in the back, but what’s not seen is the number of people willing to spend time and help you. Paul is one of those. He sent my sitcom to Objective London, and to have somebody of his ilk backing you validates you.
He’s also very funny, drily funny. It’s great that he’s at Objective. For all that we have danced around, I’m still desperate to work with him. He’s not only great at what he does, he’s an all-round great person. Maybe now I’ll get a job.
Claire Mundell and George Geddes
CLAIRE MUNDELL, INDEPENDENT PRODUCER, head of Synchronicity Films and Chair of BAFTA Scotland
The former head of children’s television at BBC Scotland left the corporation to set up her own company, Synchronicity Films. She has just produced Not Another Happy Ending, which stars Karen Gillan, who recently stepped down from her role as sidekick to Dr Who. She also co-produced Weekend, which won two British film awards, and won a Bafta in 2009 with Crying with Laughter, a revenge comedy set in the world of stand-up. Her next project is the adaptation of a book by Helen Fitzgerald, The Devils, shot in Glasgow and London, and feature film, Glasgow Kiss, with Scottish actress, director and screenwriter Marianna Palka.
ON GEORGE GEDDES: George was director of photography on my film Not Another Happy Ending. He’s not a new talent, he’s undiscovered. This industry is addicted to the young, but it’s important to recognise the older talent that is untapped around us. George is someone that has been refining and honing his craft for some time now and has been unsung. We are seeing the fruits of a process of dedication and commitment to his craft as a director of photography.
Working for years on low budgets and shorts has served him well because he’s the most amazing of improvisers. He uses the camera as though it was an instrument of poetry, to depict a visual sense of what the director is trying to express. He’s generous and incredibly modest, not bringing his ego into it and always crediting his team more than himself.
It sounds biased, but I think his best work is on my own film. He doesn’t realise how talented he is and as he develops he might need to grow more ego and promote himself more – get an agent!
GEORGE GEDDES, DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY (above)
Geddes has just finished Karen Gillan’s feature film Not Another Happy Ending and is just back from Tangiers, where he was making a film with artist Douglas Gordon, with whom he has collaborated on more than 30 films. An old hand at adverts, documentaries, dramas and short films, Geddes is always busy, “although not always paid”. He worked on the mini-budget Running in Traffic and has co-written and co-directed Stereo with David Council as part of the pair’s commitment to making a film every month.
ON CLAIRE MUNDELL: Working with Claire was great as she gets together an amazing team. It might surprise a few people as we show Glasgow in a different light from the usual. It’s a Scottish film with no grouse-shooting or junkies.
What I admire about Claire is she’s a very smart filmmaker. She’s a really good producer who knows what will work. She also tries to lift the profile of the Scottish film industry. We rant on together about what we could change and how to make it a better place for people to film in. We have the talent and crew but at the moment we don’t have the facilities or studios to make more films happen, and Claire’s trying to change that.
Zam Salim and Ainslie Henderson
ZAM SALIM, WRITER/DIRECTOR
Zam Salim’s film Up There is nominated for two Bafta Scotland awards – Best Director and Best Film. Based on his short film Laid Off, which was nominated for the Best Short Film at the Scottish Baftas in 2006 and Best Short Film at the European Independent Film Festival in 2007, and had more than 500,000 hits on YouTube, Up There has already won the Best Independent Film award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and the main award at the Rhode Island International Film Festival. Originally from Manchester, Salim studied film and philosophy at Glasgow University. He has also directed a number of shorts and episodes of the popular BBC television series MI High.
ON AINSLIE HENDERSON: I’m really impressed with Ainslie. Animation is really where it’s at right now. It has got a freedom. His film is charming and human and grounded and has a sweetness and humanity. It’s great to see something new and hear these voices coming through.
There’s a also a real sense of production values and a feeling that young talent can take on the world. Scotland has a big voice in animation; there’s our expertise in video games and the comic tradition, lots of people sitting in darkened rooms beavering away. I’m really intrigued to see what Ainslie does next.
AINSLIE HENDERSON, ANIMATOR (above right)
After winning the New Talent Bafta for his film It’s About Spending Time Together while still a student at Edinburgh College of Art, he has now been nominated for the Animation award for his follow-up, I am Tom Moody. It’s the tale of a performer crippled with anxiety, featuring the voice of Mackenzie Crook, and has already picked up two prestigious awards at the Ottawa International Animation Festival – carrying off the Walt Disney Grand Prize for Best Student Animation and the Ottawa Media Jury Award. Henderson is one of three nominees in the Scottish Bafta’s animation category given to Edinburgh College of Art graduates. Also a singer-songwriter, he was one of the contestants on the reality show Fame Academy in 2002. Of the experience, he says, “I sang some songs on TV for a couple of weeks and people remembered that for a long time.”
ON ZAM SALIM: I really admire him as a director as he has a really unique way of making films and uses the human voice as another element. I love also that he writes about death in a funny and entertaining way that shows intelligence and skill. He doesn’t fuss about making films. He just goes ahead and does it, and that’s inspiring to me.
I feel really excited about the Baftas. It’s great to be nominated. It’s the kind of thing you can tell your parents about. While at art school I was given the Bafta New Talent Award for Animation. But film showings are odd. I’ve only done a few and I’m not even starting to get used to them. It’s not like a gig, where you can read what’s happening and react accordingly to get them on side. You’re paralysed. You get the same rush of adrenalin, an inability to communicate, a desire to hide, but there is nothing to do with that energy, you just have to sit and wonder what people think until it’s over.
Kahleen Crawford and Iain De Caestecker
KAHLEEN CRAWFORD, CASTING DIRECTOR
After cutting her casting teeth on Sixteen Years of Alcohol in 2003 and working in the industry for five years, Crawford set up her own company in 2006. With lots in the pipeline, including work with Sigma Films, an Irish horror flick, the new film by Andrew Haighs (of Weekend fame) and another in Michigan next year, Crawford has never been so busy.
ON IAIN DE CAESTECKER: I’ve known Iain for about 12 years now, since he was 13 or 14 and cast in Sixteen Years of Alcohol, and I’ve seen him grow up in terms of career. He has always been consistently very good and has a natural knack. He has always been one of the brilliant young actors we want to get in if an opportunity arises. We recommend him highly with clients both as an actor and on set, and we’ve cast him in River City and in feature films.
He can have a vulnerability and is unassuming as a person, but he has got versatility, and because he’s so natural he can always find a way into things even if it’s a bit against his type. He has thoughtfulness, self-possession, is unselfconscious and is brave, which marks him out. I’m sure he’s going to be a very busy actor on film, TV and stage. I don’t imagine he’s chasing stardom, although he may well find it.
IAIN DE CAESTECKER, ACTOR (below left)
Scottish Bafta nominee for Best Actor for Young James Herriot. Starting out as a 12-year-old in Billy and Zorba opposite James Cosmo, then going on to play Ken Barlow’s son Adam in Coronation Street, de Caestecker really grabbed attention in Richard Jobson’s Sixteen Years of Alcohol. TV roles include The Fades and Young James Herriot. He is currently auditioning in Los Angeles and has three films out next year as well as a part in James Herbert’s BBC drama The Secret of Crickley Hall, which airs this month.
ON KAHLEEN CRAWFORD: I’ve known Kahleen since I first started acting, and she has done way too much for me personally but also for a lot of other actors. She can always get the best out of you. I know how much she cares and is passionate about her projects. It always feels subjective when I talk to her, which I love.
I think it shows that Kahleen loves what she does as well. She always has time for people, and for me personally, to give advice or to help with things – even if it doesn’t involve her directly. n
The 2012 British Academy Scotland award-winners will be announced on 18 November (www.bafta.org/scotland)