MAX GIBSON: THE MAN BEHIND THE MAGIC

Do you have any thoughts on Scottish filmmakers? Seen anything that you’ve particularly appreciated? Anybody you rate? Have you seen “Ratcatcher?”
No, no I haven’t. Well, because of the set-up in cinemas now you very rarely see a film, you’re just pushing buttons and general things like that. I haven’t seen or been in the Scottish film scene because I’m not in Edinburgh or Glasgow, and that’s where it all happens.

Glasgow’s the place where it’s really happening, I think.
Um-hum…but during the Edinburgh Film Festival, that’s where you meet people and you get involved. But I do have a Scottish project going on at the moment of course, namely the Film Museum. I’ve been invited to give advice on how to set things up, I’ve designed a logo and suggested a title for them and now they’re looking for independent funding to set up the Scottish Film Museum, which is badly needed.

Whereabouts do they want to set it up?
The Coatbridge area, which is in between Edinburgh and Glasgow. We do have the Robert Riddell-Black film library. He was one of the top documentary filmmakers in the 50s and 60s. He was the first man to win an Academy Award in Scotland with “The Great Ships.” He used to make films all about Scotland and Ravenscraig, etc. At the Festival every year, we used to have a program at the Regal called “Scotland on The Screen” for films in Scotland and Robert Riddell-Black made a great many of the films. And that film library is in the hands of the people who want to set up the Scottish Film Museum. We’ve got his projectors, his editors, his film library and the man is still alive and he’s dead keen on the idea. Independent funding is now being sought for that.

That’s just really interesting. I mean…I’d never heard of that before.
Oh, there are a million Scottish stories.

You grow up watching the Scottish stuff…but it’s only recently that Scottish film seems to have been taken more seriously. I mean, a lot of that stuff is just lost or unknown.
There’s a lot that’s totally undiscovered, it’s the wee things that you start hearing about now and again. For instance, I can’t remember his name, but the first person ever to interview a film star was from, I think it was the Orkneys. Way back in the 1910s he interviewed film stars and he published it in a magazine, which literally became the world’s first film magazine. He apparently was killed the same day as the Titanic sunk; he fell down a lift shaft. I mean, the Scottish influence in Hollywood was quite strong, Charlie Chaplin’s arch enemy James Finlayson was from just about a mile from where we’re sitting at the moment.

The guy with the moustache?
Yeah, he had a moustache, he was from Larbert. There’s a plaque to his memory down at the Town Hall cinema. And the other one, you know the big huge bloke in the early Chaplin movies, Eric Campbell, he was from Greenock. And there was Donald Crisp, he was Scottish, he was in “How The West Was Won,” and “Brigadoon,” but that was awful…

You say you hardly see anything these days, what with you pressing buttons and whatnot, but have you seen anything that’s impressed recently? Any good recent films?
I think the last film I actually sat and watched from end to end was “Dances With Wolves.” I thought the making of that film, the way it was presented on screen, was pretty good, the sweep of the prairies, the wind blowing through the grass, etc.; it was kind of like old-

fashioned filmmaking. Funnily enough, a friend of mine and I were discussing the other day what, in our opinion, was the most perfect film made. And we both came up with the same film. What film impressed us the most with the direction, the photography, the content, the editing, you name it…what film was exactly right in every department? And we both came up with “Lawrence of Arabia.”

Is that a film you could watch over again?
Yes, on a 70mm screen of course.

(Laughing)You elitist swine!
(Laughing) That’s the medium it was shot in and that’s the medium it’s supposed to be seen on.

The story continues in part six of MAX GIBSON: THE MAN BEHIND THE MAGIC>>>




Posted on March 3, 2004 in Interviews by

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