Muirhouse pair team up to offer ‘life-changing’ film course

Posted on 30/09/2014 by

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Edinburgh College Inner City Arts students will make film of Irvine Welsh short story The State of the Party

Greg MacveanA BAFTA-winning director has launched his second film course at Edinburgh College for young and unemployed people, with the help of the iconic Scottish writer Irvine Welsh.

Muirhouse man Garry Fraser (pictured above), who won the Scottish Newcomer BAFTA in filmmaking in 2013 and has had his film Everybody’s Child broadcast on the BBC, set up the Inner City Arts course for young people from poverty-stricken areas in Edinburgh. The filmmaking course aims to prevent young people from becoming involved in self-destructive lifestyles of gangs and drug abuse.

This year, Inner City Arts students will not only work alongside an internationally respected film director but will also get the chance to bring the work of one of Scotland’s best writers to life, by adapting Irvine Welsh’s short story The State of the Party. As part of the course, the students will devise a screenplay and learn how to use filming and editing equipment to bring the story to the big screen. Students will receive expert guidance from Garry – the college’s filmmaker in residence – and they will also get the chance to consult with and speak to Irvine Welsh using video link-up in the classroom.

Using social media, Garry sparked up a conversation with Welsh about his latest course at Edinburgh College over Twitter. Garry – who is from the same area as Welsh in Muirhouse and similarly uses his background and upbringing as a source of inspiration in his work – asked if his students could use The State of the Party as the script for his latest film. The writer not only gave his permission for the students to recreate the story in film but also offered to speak to the students to offer his expertise and advice!

Irvine Welsh said: “I’m delighted to be involved in this project and honoured to have the Edinburgh College Inner City Arts students work with Garry Fraser on The State of the Party. Garry is an astonishingly talented and driven filmmaker, and intimately understands the darkness and humour of the piece. He’ll be both inspirational to, and inspired by, the young people he’ll be working with on the project.

The State of the Party is a drug-fuelled parable about two young men’s descent into a hyper-real urban hell, and based on the dark premise that ‘no good deed goes unpunished’ and things are never so bad that we can’t make them worse, through our own muddled decision making. I’m very excited to see their interpretation of this story.”

Film1Garry Fraser said: “I’m very excited to launch the next Inner City Arts course and give the group of young people the chance to work on one of Irvine Welsh’s short stories. The students can relate to Irvine’s work because he uses Scots language, showing that screenwriting is within reach to these young people who speak with the same voice – and that art isn’t just open to an elite few. I believe that art can break down barriers and free a troubled and creative mind, which is why these courses can really be life changing for young people who are from a similar background to my own – to give them hope and the option of a better future.”

“For me, getting into filmmaking was either life or death. If I hadn’t discovered it, I wouldn’t be where I am today. It was brilliant to see the students develop skills and confidence in their abilities during last year’s course. This year, the course will focus more on developing practical skills in filmmaking and the skills to empower the students.”

Conner Dickson, who is 15 years old and took part in last year’s Inner City Arts course, said: “I was always interested in acting before the course but I wasn’t sure how to get into it. I gained a lot of confidence on the course and came out of my shell as it went on. I felt I could say anything in front of Garry as he’s in the same boat as all of us and has similar life experiences. I wasn’t afraid to act in front of the camera and take part in the improvisation sessions, and actually discovered I was pretty good at it. I’m now looking at getting into acting and have applied for courses at college too.”

Ray McCowan, vice principal education leadership at Edinburgh College, said: “We need committed individuals like Garry to provide support to young and unemployed people. The young people he works with see him as a role model and a sign of what can be achieved through getting a solid education.

“This is just one of the brilliant examples of the work the college is doing to engage with young and unemployed people on its doorstep. Colleges play a crucial role in enabling people from all backgrounds to improve their lives, and we are confident that the course will again be a big success.”

Places are still available on the Inner City Arts course. To apply, or if you have any queries, please contact Garry Fraser by email at: Garry.Fraser@edinburghcollege.ac.uk.

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