A FIRST-time director’s moving film about the impact of a fishing tragedy on a close-knit north-east community claimed the glory at Scotland’s flagship film and TV awards.
For Those In Peril, made by Fife-born director Paul Wright and filmed on location in various Aberdeenshire villages, was named best film at the BAFTA Scotland ceremony in Glasgow.
London-born actor George Mackay, the low-budget film’s young star, who is also appearing on cinema screens at present in Sunshine on Leith, picked up the prestigious best film actor award.
For Those In Peril won two of the four categories it was nominated in at the ceremony, which saw the cream of the TV and film industry descend on Glasgow, including Scots-born Hollywood stars Kelly Macdonald and Brian Cox.
Guests of honour at the ceremony included broadcaster Kirsty Wark and veteran actor Richard Wilson, who both received outstanding achievement awards from author William McIlvanney and Dr Who favourite David Tennant respectively.
Also recognised was as a little-known film industry figure, visual effects guru Steven Begg, who has worked on James Bond and Batman films and was discovered by the late Gerry Anderson, the Thunderbirds creator.
Paul Wright’s film, which was only released last month, wowed critics when it was unveiled at the Cannes Film Festival in the spring, and later when it had its UK premiere in Edinburgh.
Mackay plays a young misfit who is sole survivor of a tragedy which has claimed the lives of five locals lost at sea.
BAFTA Scotland director Alan de Pellette said: “For a first-time director to win an award like this is a phenomenal achievement.
“He’s already had a good run of things because his short films have already won awards, he has made his first film at a pretty young age and he got his first film shown at Cannes, which was obviously massive, and now this.”
Wright, who is already working on his follow-up to For Those In Peril, which will be a “strange love story,” said: “I actually grew up in a very similar village in Fife to the one in the film, although is it not set in a particular location.
“It’s probably taken about three years from having a blank page to getting the film out, which isn’t too bad for a feature.
“We knew the film was a bit different and strange, but we hoped that those people that connected with the film would really connect with it, and so far that’s been the case.
“With it being a really low-budget film there hasn’t been the money to throw around on marketing, but hopefully winning the award will mean more people hear about the film and check it out.”
Glasgow actor Peter Mullan, one of Mackay’s co-stars in “Proclaimers musical” Sunshine on Leith - which was ineligible for the Scottish BAFTAs as it did not get a festival screening before the academy’s deadline - did however win the best TV actor award for his role in Channel Four’s gangster drama The Fear.
The Wee Man, the controversial film charting the rise of Glasgow gangland figure Paul Ferris, won the audience award, which had been dogged by claims of vote-rigging in the run-up to this year’s ceremony after several contenders ran high-profile social media campaigns.
However The Wee Man’s star Martin Compston lost out to Mackay the film acting category, which Iain de Caestecker, one of Karen Gillan’s co-stars in Glasgow-set romantic comedy Not Another Happy Ending, was also shortlisted for. The only other double winner at the Scottish BAFTAs was BBC Scotland’s one-off drama Murder, which was made for the UK network, has been commissioned for a full series and has been billed as Britain’s answer to Danish drama The Killing.
Among the other main award winners were Emma Davie and Morag McKinnon, jointly named best director for I Am Breathing, a documentary charting the final months of motor neurone disease sufferer Neil Platt, which has been screened in more than 40 countries. Fire In The Night, the BBC Scotland programme which featured Piper Alpha survivors recounting the North Sea disaster 25 years on, was named best documentary.
Moments after collecting the hotly-contested audience award, The Wee Man’s director Ray Burdis attacked the film’s many critics and also the police who he said he effectively banned any filming in Glasgow.
He said: “I didn’t even wear black-tie as I didn’t think we had any chance of winning. I really wasn’t expecting to get anything.
“We had a lot of highs and lows. I was very pleased with the end result and I worked with terrific actors and actresses.
“I don’t want to harp on about it, because life’s too short, but we weren’t allowed to film up here.
“A lot of the critics said it didn’t look like Glasgow, but that’s because we had to shoot in London. The press hate me, I don’t know why. I don’t think it deserved the slamming it got from the critics
“We should have made it up here, but all we could do were a couple of guerrilla shots. Glasgow felt like Nazi Germany to me.
“I’ve got to know Paul Ferris very well and he’s now a friend. He’s done his time but, for goodness sake, he wasn’t even allowed to walk down the red carpet.”
Fire In The Night, based on The Scotsman journalist Stephen McGinty’s book, was also the audience award winner at this year’s EIFF and was later broadcast on network television.
Mr de Pellette said: “I thought it was an astonishing film, really moving. We did a special screening in Aberdeen in the summer with a full audience, and it was amazing.
“Even watching some of the clips that were shown at the ceremony I got a lump in the throat at the testimonies of the survivors and the quiet dignity that they still have.”
Richard Wilson, 77, best known for his role as Victor Meldrew in the sitcom One Foot In The Grave, said he would instead single out his part as wheeler-dealer Eddie Clockerty in John Byrne’s iconic drama Tutti Frutti.
“It was just wonderful. It was a brilliant piece of writing, it was produced brilliantly and it was a joy to work on. I’m just glad it is out on DVD now, it took such a long time to come out.
“This a great honour for me. I’m really thrilled about the award. I didn’t really think I’d earned it, I just thought: ‘my god.’ I was surprised and delighted to hear about it.”
Meanwhile Kirsty Wark said she had no intention of giving up broadcasting any time soon, despite receiving the outstanding contribution to broadcasting award.
The 58-year-old presenter added: “I’m certainly not thinking I’m at the end of my career. I’m just about to sign a new contract with the BBC in April and I think Newsnight’s on fire at the moment.”
Mr de Pellette admitted Steven Begg was a little-known figure in the wider film industry, but was widely regarded as one of the world’s best special effects experts.
He ended up working on Gerry Anderson’s Terrahawks series after travelling from his home in Edinburgh to Blackpool where the Thunderbirds legend was appearing at an exhibition.
He said: “He is definitely a bit of an unsung hero. Not a lot of us knew who he was. When we decided to give him the award we actually had to watch clips on YouTube to double-check that he had a Scottish accent. It was like: ‘how do we not know about this guy?
“He is a really big-shot in America and when we did the research on him it turned out there are only another four or five people in his league working in movies, either in Britain or Hollywood. His achievements really are quite amazing.”
Begg, who was brought up in the Muirhouse area of Edinburgh, said: “I thought they’d got the wrong person when I first heard about the award.
“I’ve sort of meandered through the first industry for the last 30 years. I was utterly gobsmacked to be recognised like this. I’ve never had anything like this at all, although I’ve had some cool jobs over the years.
“Visual effects people never really get any kind of recognition. We are kind of like the whipping boys that get called in to fix things afterwards that they’ve made a mistake on during the shoot.”
In a specially-recorded video message for a montage paying tribute to Begg’s work, James Bond producer Barbara Brocolli: “This is well deserved outstanding contribution award. Congratulations - nobody does it better.”
For Those in Peril
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Outstanding Contribution to Television and Film
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