To the Light House

I’ve just returned from Dublin after a wonderful and well-received screening of Voyageuse at the Light House cinema, thanks to the Glasgow Film Festival, the Dublin Film Festival and the Scottish Government office in Ireland. It was also great to spend time with Douglas King and Darren Osborne, the director and actor/production designer of Super November, a film that also screened at the GFF earlier this year which I’m looking forward to when it plays in Glasgow – when else – this November.

What our two films share in common is they’re both self-funded, made on what the industry calls a micro-budget. Both films have proved popular with audiences too. That we received the warmest of welcomes in Dublin couldn’t be more of a contrast to how overlooked we are at home.

While I can’t presume to speak for Douglas or Darren of course, it’s striking that Screen Scotland, our national screen agency, couldn’t even bring itself to mention our Dublin event even though we were there acting as ambassadors for Scottish film, not only invited to speak to a group of film students at Griffith College South but also attending a reception held at the cinema, sponsored by the Scottish Government’s Ireland office before taking part in our respective Q&As after the screenings. Even a tweet would have been appreciated and would have cost Screen Scotland nothing.

Meanwhile, over at the Voyageuse blog, I recently wrote a post about the film’s four star review in The Guardian by Peter Bradshaw which has been shared widely on Twitter. Even the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon retweeted it yet there was no mention of it on Screen Scotland’s account. It’s not that I crave third-party endorsement but it seems there are two tiers of filmmaking in Scotland – the ‘official’ films, backed by public subsidy and widely promoted and those deemed as outliers, unworthy of support, regardless of how well-received they are by critics and audiences.

Films are hard-won, particularly in Scotland where the level of indigenous production is depressingly low compared to that of say, Ireland or in mainland Europe. I would argue that once made, those self-made, self-funded films – and there are many – deserve support. It needn’t be financial either – rather than a blanket exclusion of our films, an encouraging mention on social media or in a newsletter would be welcome especially when I – and Doug, Darren – and all the other unsung filmmakers are invited – unpaid – to represent our nation. Not too much to ask, is it?

Next week, Voyageuse is screening at the Watershed, Bristol for what is very possibly the last time in a cinema. It’s not that I don’t wish to show it or attend Q&As – indeed, in the last week I’ve had many people asking if it can be shown more widely. As Peter Bradshaw observes in his review, he finds it baffling that V. hasn’t attracted sales or distribution but the fact is I can no longer afford to take it on the road given the cost of travel and accommodation. I wish it were different because plainly the audience reaction justifies a wider release. It’s also a matter of time. Having decided to make Tilo in Real Life, I need to focus all my energy where I can.

The above image is of the entrance to the Light House cinema where our films were shown this week. Many thanks to Allison Gardner and Grainne Humphreys for their support.