This weekend, I went to my friend Stephen’s birthday gathering. It was lovely and fun and brilliant to catch up, but the next day I found myself having the inevitable (non chemical or alcohol) comedown that I find occurring increasingly these days after spending time with old friends. It’s easy to forget how much you enjoy certain people’s company when you’re starved of it and a little taste can be a potent thing. Obviously it’s a part of growing up and I’m very happy with my life right now, I’m really lucky to have a load of brilliant friends, acquaintances and work colleagues (and customers!) who I look forward to seeing regularly but recently, for whatever reason, I’ve been getting quite nostalgic for my Edinburgh days.
I’m putting it down to two key things – a thwarted holiday Becca and I had planned to Scotland must have got me somewhat nostalgic – knowing that I was going to get the chance to see a few friends I haven’t got to spend time with for ages and – of course – the expectation of physically being in Edinburgh. But I think more than that is the fact that I’ve recently been writing my first original screenplay for…. well… probably about 8 years. I’ve written a couple in that time for various reasons but this is the first time I can remember being excited about writing something really original in a long time. I guess that has stirred up some old feelings and some rose-tinted memories that were exacerbated by seeing Stephen and having recently spent time with my old writing partner Andy.
I’ve just spent 2 years making my documentary, it has been my absolute passion and this first new screenplay gives a really fresh and exciting feeling but I’m realising that it’s never going to be as exciting as it all was back then. My film school was far from great but it was a bunch of young, enthusiastic guys with free film equipment and ambition far beyond their ability. I’ve never really experienced that period in a nostalgic way before now but I’m really enjoying being able to look back from my mid thirties at my late teens and early twenties and appreciate what a creative and ambitious bunch we were. We all, of course, assumed that we would go on to be world-famous film directors and none of us really have. Ironically, in fact, the guy least likely to succeed – the film school’s lone nut job – the guy who made the nastiest, most violent student film any of us had ever seen, who, legend has it, terrorized a flat full of girls with a knife before being arrested by a large armed police, spending a year in a mental institution and briefly reappearing, somewhat catatonic, that guy…. he did OK. He’s now one of the UK’s biggest violent filmmakers, he makes feature films about gangs and urban crime and ‘ting’. They get cinema releases, so that’s pretty good.
Everyone else has bobbed about on the fringes pretty well. The two best camera guys/directors of photography – Simon and Dan shoot that Jack Dee series Lead balloon. Simon shot a film for Roland Joffe recently too. Colin and Morag (a writer/director team who won a BAFTA for their first short film together) have finally this year made their first feature film which will hopefully get them the attention they’ve long deserved. Brian has been working a year on his Culloden feature script. Rick does CGI on big Hollywood films, Seb and Dustin bizarrely cropped up as actors in the second series of Saxondale. I had my spell writing professionally and hopefully my doco will make it out on some kind of release this year. Stephen himself has spent the last decade working in prosthetic special effects make-up on some huge films. He’s worked steadily on all the Harry Potters. I’d love to see him direct again, though.
Tonight I discovered that our friend Ricky Callan, a brilliant Edinburgh actor who we all used in all of our student films has uploaded Stephen’s graduation film to Youtube. I hadn’t seen it since it was made about 14 years ago. Stephen was a few years ahead of my group and his film was the most ambitious and exciting and professional production I had ever been around. He had a famous person narrating it, and a real TV actor in it. It was both a period film and a musical. A smart, original idea and very very funny. Such an accomplishment. Watching it now, it’s just still great and so much fun. But I wasn’t expecting it to feel so old or for everybody to look so young. I hope everyone eventually uploads their student films to youtube. I’d love to see them again. Maybe I should upload some of mine. Maybe. Maybe not.
This is Stephen’s opus: Burke and Hare The Musical. I hope you enjoy it as much as I still do….
oh, and the trailer from my own graduation film starring Stephen in a death scene I remain very proud of…