THE makers of hit Scottish movies The Angels’ Share, Ae Fond Kiss and Sweet Sixteen are to join forces with one of the country’s leading young playwrights for a film set at the height of the mid-1990s rave scene.
Kieran Hurley is turning his own script for Edinburgh Festival Fringe hit Beats into a screenplay for award-winning film-maker Ken Loach’s company, Sixteen Films.
Hurley wrote and performed in the original production of Beats, which was named Scotland’s best new play shortly after it was premiered in 2012.
Now the Glasgow-based theatre-maker is joining forces with Scottish film and TV writer-director Brian Welsh on the project, which will be set and shot in Scotland. A cast has yet to be confirmed.
Falkirk-born Welsh was behind the BBC1 legal thriller The Escape Artist, which won David Tennant the best TV actor honour at last year’s Scottish Baftas, and also co-wrote and directed the BBC Scotland drama Glasgow Girls, based on the campaign over dawns raids on asylum seekers.
Beats explores the impact of the introduction of the 1994 Criminal Justice Act – controversial legislation which effectively outlawed raves across the UK.
Edinburgh-born Hurley’s story – billed as “a coming-of-age tale of rebellion, apathy and the irresistible power of gathered youth” – focuses on Johnno McCreadie, a teenager in the West Lothian town of Livingston.
The big-screen version of Beats will be the first film to be made in Scotland by Sixteen Films since Loach’s hit comedy-drama The Angels’ Share, about a group of troubled young Glaswegians who team up to stage a daring whisky heist, which won the jury prize at the Cannes Film Festival three years ago.
Camilla Bray, the producer of Beats, said: “Kieran and Brian are writing the screenplay together, and Brian is also going to be directing. This is Brian’s first project with us, although we’ve been talking to each other for a good while. Kieran is an absolutely fantastic writer and we’re really excited to be working with both of them, they’re a great team.
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“Everyone who saw the play will know it was a beautiful, brilliant original piece of writing and performance. Brian is the perfect partner for Kieran and we’re really optimistic about where the screenplay is going. It’s very early days, but it’s in really good shape.”
Hurley’s play was originally staged at one of Glasgow’s leading nightspots, The Arches, in April 2012 before two hugely-successful Fringe runs.
The judges of the Critics’ Awards for Theatre in Scotland, which honoured Beats as best new play, praised Hurley for his “authentically spot-on” observations of the 1990s rave scene and “free party movement”, despite only being in his mid-twenties when he wrote it.
Theatre critic Joyce McMillan said: “What was striking about Beats was the strength of the subject – exploring an under-acknowledged but significant moment in the history of UK popular culture – combined with a strong, powerful one-hour narrative (quite conventional in shape, covering the events of a single night) and the quality of Kieran’s writing which conjured up some unforgettable images that I can still see in my mind, three years on. It was the strength of the narrative arc and the searching, sometimes-poetic quality of the writing that won it that year’s CATS award. The script was a kind of storyboard in the first place.”
Leslie Finlay, film development officer at Creative Scotland, which has awarded the project initial funding of £26,000, said: “Kieran is one of a new wave of writers, directors and producers emerging from Scotland.
“This is a great opportunity for him to work with Sixteen Films, who have an enviable track record of discovering and nurturing new Scottish talent, as he develops Beats from stage to screenplay.”