The Rig goes big; A century of the BBC in Scotland; & EIFF returns
It's been a wee while...
I had good intentions when I moved ReelScotland over to Substack in 2020, excited by plans for a new Filmhouse here in Edinburgh (more on that later), a new film studio in Leith and production on various TV series and films taking place around the country.
Sadly, I got a bit ahead of myself as I was still writing on a book on 1986’s Highlander and mulling over starting another book on 1983’s Local Hero while going back to university for an MA in Screenwriting and working part time at the Scottish Documentary Institute. What was I thinking?
The books are now published, the course is finished and I’m now working in screen education at Screen Academy Scotland/Screen NETS while doing freelance development work on unscripted radio and TV projects, so keeping busy.
But I’m still as interested in what’s going on in Scotland’s screen sector today as I was when ReelScotland started back in 2010, plus people keep signing up to this newsletter despite me not sending anything out for a wee while…
So I thought I’d flex the old ReelScotland muscles and put together a newsletter covering some recent goings-on that might be of interest to people who are either working in the Scottish screen sector in pretty much any capacity (or who are trying to enter it) or who just quite like films, TV and games made in Scotland (or with some Scottish connection that gives me an excuse to cover it).
I’m not sure if monthly or fortnightly round-ups are better, or maybe monthly with the occasional one-off newsletter with an interview, special preview or breaking news… basically anything could happen.
Thanks for being here to watch ReelScotland slowly morph into something newish, feel free to let me know what I’m doing wrong or right and I’ll adjust as I go along. Here we go…
🎂 This week marked the centenary of the BBC in Scotland, check out the video below for some classic moments from the archives and head over to BBC iPlayer to watch an hour-long celebration.
🎞️ This week also saw the announcement that Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) will return in August as part of the Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) following the disaster that befell the former in 2022 when the Centre for the Moving Image (CMI) collapsed overnight, taking EIFF, Edinburgh’s Filmhouse and Aberdeen’s Belmont Filmhouse with it.
It’s fair to say that this newsletter wouldn’t exist without the existence of Filmhouse and EIFF, my own love of film and desire to write about it informed by the incredible films and events put on by both over the years. The fact that two cinemas and a major film festival were able to vanish overnight is still hard to believe - not only did many people lose their jobs but Edinburgh feels like a smaller place without Filmhouse and I’m sure Aberdeen is the same. Fingers crossed we get both cinemas back soon.
🎞️ Glasgow Film Festival is in full swing right now, which has always been one of the most exciting celebrations of cinema taking place in Scotland. I’ve been lucky enough to attend as both journalist and punter, meeting some incredibly talented people and seeing some fantastic films. This year marks Allan Hunter’s last year as co-director and I’d like to pass on my thanks to him for always being so helpful and enthusiastic over the years - cheers Allan!
🎞️ The Hippodrome Festival of Silent Film returns between 22nd to 26th March in Bo’ness, tickets are on sale now.
🎞️ Tickets are also on sale for the 2023 Glasgow Short Film Festival which takes place from 22nd to 26th March. Opening event OMOS is a new moving image work that pays homage to Scotland’s untold Black history and celebrates Black performance in Scotland.
📺 Waaaaay back in 2010 I was invited along to a nondescript Glasgow office building to visit the set The Field of Blood, David Kane’s adaptation of a Denise Mina crime novel. The place had been dressed to look like the office of a 1980s newsroom belonging to a Glasgow newspaper, with typewriters, ashtrays and empty bags of crisps from the era dotted around the place. Shown on BBC One in 2011 and 2013, the series then vanished into TV history. That’s a long way of saying that today it was announced that Glasgow’s Freedom Scripted is working with Kane to bring an adaptation of Mina’s Alex Morrow novels to TV screens in the shape of Morrow. What with a new TV adaptation of Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus novels also in the works, it could soon be a good time for Scottish cops on the box.
📺 One of the biggest UK TV successes of 2023 has been The Rig, the Prime Video series set on an oil rig where things start to go quite badly for the crew, including Iain Glen, Martin Compston and Mark Bonnar. The series was filmed at First Stage studios in Leith and a second season was recently announced, once more filmed in Edinburgh. There’s a chance to hear more from the cast and crew, including creator and writer David Macpherson, at this Royal Television Society event on Wednesday 29th March.
🎬 For anyone looking to get into a career in TV, the Edinburgh TV Festival’s annual The Network programme could be for you. It’s a free entry-level access programme for anyone aged 18+ and it takes place every August. The 50 delegates selected for the 2023 cohort will get access to sessions, masterclasses and workshops led by industry professionals, as well as a free Festival pass, accommodation in Edinburgh, a year of mentoring and unlimited support to help them find paid TV jobs. The deadline is Friday 14th April.
🎬 BAFTA Guru Live is another event for those keen to get into film, games and TV, visit the website for full details - it takes place in Glasgow on Saturday 18th March.
Finally, a few films and TV series with a Scottish connection are dotted around the place right now, a few I’d recommend are:
Judi Dench and Billy Connolly in Mrs Brown on BBC iPlayer
John Byrne’s Tutti Frutti on BBC iPlayer
Rob Williams’ Screw on Channel 4
110(!) episodes of Taggart on STV Player