See in Four Eyes, you’ve got a police station and a hospital. Are they real?
DUNCAN: Well, the hospital is.
WILMA: The police station is…
DUNCAN: Aye, the exterior of the police station is.
WILMA: Aye, the line-up was real. (Paul has to try and identify his mugger in a police line-up – Graham)
DUNCAN: Aye, the line-up was real. That was difficult to get that. I phoned up Police Commissioner Whateverhisnamewas, or Inspector, in Airdrie, the town next to Coatbridge. And I said, “Listen, I’m, making a film, I need a place for a line-up and I got told you have the best line-up facilities.” And he’s like, “Ah, we don’t do films like that, it’s not a documentary.”

Yeah, like he gets a lot of requests for documentaries…
DUNCAN: Exactly. So I was like, “Okay then, is there no chance of getting it?” “What I’m saying right now, you’re not getting in, okay?” “Fine.” So I phoned the head office in Glasgow and I said, “I can’t get this.” And the woman there was like, “When do you need it?” “Next week.” “Aye, okay, no bother.” So she phoned me back half an hour later and said, “Phone this guy here in Motherwell.” So I phoned this guy in Motherwell and he said, “We’ve got (line-up facilities), but it’s shit, it won’t do basically what you want it to do, phone this guy in Coatbridge.”

(laughing) “I’d be embarrassed to have criminals in there…”
DUNCAN: So he says, “Phone up this guy in Coatbridge.” I was in a line-up in Coatbridge myself, but (chuckling) I’ll not tell you about that. And he said, “If you’ve been there, you know what it’s like, it’s not that great. Phone this guy in Airdrie.” And I was like, “Aw naw!” So I phoned this guy in Airdrie and he answered and he’s like, “What are you doing? I told you you’re not getting it!” I said, “I spoke to your head office in Glasgow today and they said I could,” and he’s like, “I’ll phone you back in half an hour,” really pissed off, right (Graham laughs), and he phoned me back, “Right, when do you want it?” “Am I getting it?” “Yeah, when do you want it?” “Tuesday.” “We’re busy Tuesday.”

(laughing) “We were planning on having a huge criminal influx on Tuesday…”
DUNCAN (Laughing, as is Wilma) Absolutely, busy night. “What about Wednesday?” “Busy Wednesday.”

(Laughing) What a fluke!
DUNCAN: “I know, when are you not busy?”
WILMA: (Laughing) “Tuesday night.”
DUNCAN: “Aye, it’ll be Tuesday night, but it might change at the last minute.” “Aye, whatever! We’ll do it right now, but we’ve got to do it!” When (the police) were onto us they were dead nice, it was just this one guy initially. He didn’t know who we were…

Maybe he thought you were going to case the joint…
DUNCAN: (In weary disbelief) I know!
JOHN: What a wee jobsworth (British term for a pathetic stickler for rules and regulations in any job – Graham). He makes up things for his own job too, totally rude.
DUNCAN: The hospital closed down, but that used to be a hospital, it’s now a…
WILMA: A Day Center.
DUNCAN: We just asked the guy and he said, “Whenever you want to use it.” They asked us about liability insurance for coverage, they had to make sure we didn’t say anything derogatory against the council and all this kind of stuff. They were asking us about the story, but they eventually let us in. The council were actually really good.
WILMA: The council were fine, everybody was okay with the location, they didn’t bother us.
DUNCAN: Well, we went through the process of having to actually ask people (for shooting permission on certain sites). We went to a seminar on guerrilla filmmaking and they were just like, “Don’t ask for a location.” Right, fine, you can do that, but if you want to actually get in somewhere and you’ve got to set equipment up…

Guerrilla filmmaking seminar: “Just film in your basement.” Thing is though, if you get captured, you’d have to pay for the permits for that. Don’t you have to pay for permits to shoot in the street, like in Glasgow and all that?
DUNCAN: You have to ask. But sometimes (laughing) you don’t. Most of the stuff we needed shot we shot out in Coatbridge and that. Mostly you have a problem if you’ve got the big camera, if you bring in a 25 person crew and all that kind of stuff, and if you’re taking over a street then it’s that kind of thing if you’ve got traffic moving and you’re actually in people’s way. But if there’s only three people then you’re okay, otherwise you’ll have to tell the police you’re gonna be in this location, and if there’s any traffic delays then it’s probably because of us.
JOHN: I’d like to know, what makes a director?
DUNCAN: I think it’s just determination.
JOHN: I’ve got hundreds of ideas, but I’m not a director and I’m not even seriously thinking about trying to be a director, it’s just that I’ve got ideas. Why is it certain people have got that vision?
DUNCAN: You’ve really got to learn all the training and stuff. Some people don’t, some people just go out there and do it.
JOHN: I know, like my favorite director, who is the best director in the entire world, which is Akira Kurosawa, he had no training, he just turned up one day and went, “I went to make a film, right.”

In a Japanese accent, though.
JOHN: He didn’t do it in a Japanese accent, he spoke Japanese.

Being kind of a native of the country, yeah.
JOHN: But he just went, “I’m gonna make some films!”
DUNCAN: I dunno who he got the funding from, he still had enough influence to get financing. And don’t forget the crew. You’ve gotta get a director of photography, all these people who’ll make sure if there’s money behind it, you’ve got to produce something.

(Joking) Who’s Kurosawa?
JOHN: (In horror and amazement) You’ve never seen “The Seven Samurai?”
WILMA: Oh, aye…

That’s Kurosawa, is it?
DUNCAN: (Laughing) That the one about the seven Samurai, is it?

Aye, okay. Know what? Pete Jackson’s the greatest director ever.
JOHN: Bollocks!

(Quoting the start of “Braindead” – or “Dead Alive” to you yanks – in crap New Zealand accent) “You no pick up the cage, you no get the big dollars!” You can’t tell me that Pete Jackson isn’t the greatest director ever!
JOHN: You know the greatest living – well, he’s not living, cos he’s dead- (we all laugh)

And the greatest dead director is…
JOHN: (Seeming to forget we’re talking about films here) The greatest artist ever, you can’t tell me that it’s not Jackson Pollock! Cos it is! Even though it’s just splatters of paint, so what? It’s great art…

(In disbelief) What was that Jackson Pollock rant about? (Duncan chuckles) Pete Jackson made “Bad Taste,” “Meet The Feebles” and “Braindead,” right? I saw “Bad Taste” in a black-and-white French bootleg before it even came out in this country…
JOHN: It’s not as good as Kurosawa, cos he’s fucking…very good.

Don’t you fucking open your mouth again, scumbag! (To Duncan) So we were talking about future plans before we started taping…what was it you were saying, was it “Two Donuts” you were talking about doing…
DUNCAN: No, we’ve done “Two Donuts,” that’s done, we did that in 2001.

(Well-informed and well-researched as ever) Oh, I’m sorry, I thought that…am I talking about “Black Coffee”…
WILMA: That was our first film “Two Donuts”, then “Black Coffee”.

So did you not really do anything with “Two Donuts” then?
DUNCAN: We sent it to quite a few festivals. But it got us recognized to Scottish Screen and they knew what we were about. It was shot from one point of view, which was difficult…but a lot of people liked it because it was very broad and straightforward, it was a conventional film.
WILMA: It got shown at Leeds Film Festival, one of the organizers had seen “Two Donuts,” from the point of view of a camera, and these two boys going about doing muggings and stuff like that. The organizer went on a night out. Three o’ clock in the morning, in Leeds, in the pouring rain, and the organizer’s like to us, “You get in the taxi.” And we’re like, “No, we’ll wait with you and get two taxis.” “No you won’t.” We left him there in the rain. The next day we met him and he said, “See after you left, I got mugged.”

(Chuckling) You jinxed the boy. Classic stuff. So. You said you’re writing a script just now. Is it a comedy? Do you like comedies as opposed to other kind of genres?
DUNCAN: I like comedy. I like Scottish humor…

It’s sharp. The Celtic wit is razor.
DUNCAN: Yeah, it’s good dialogue. I watched a film years ago called “Foul King,” about a guy who wanted to become a wrestler. But he was too greedy. He had a thing, right, where he’d get a fork, and if he was wrestling somebody he’d stick it into their arm, stick it into their neck. It was really funny, it had four really good humorous moments in it. And it was a really serious film, but those four moments really made that film, made it really good.

If you laugh at a film you do tend to come away from it with a higher opinion. The second time I saw Four Eyes…I think the ending kind of overwhelmed me a bit the first time I saw it cos it is very sad, you know. But in retrospect, looking at it again, you do really continue the humor more or less right on through it. It does help the medicine go down. But it wasn’t just a pure comedy, there was a lot of human drama in it as well, the old man having to pawn his medals to try and get some money for his son. My maw and dad really plugged into that in a way that I’d never seen them do with a film before. They want to watch it again.
DUNCAN: I’ve got to say that hopefully we might be getting the chance to make it into a six-part series.

(In excitement) Aye!?
DUNCAN: Aye. I wrote out a few synopses for the double glazing scenario. You can go to anybody’s house and meet anybody. And I’ve got these six different characters who are going to be salespeople and Big Al will be the core person who will be there.

That’s a great idea.
DUNCAN: We’re in the process of trying to get it made.

And if the people whom Duncan and Wilma are talking to have any sense they will make Four Eyes into a Scottish telly series. Judging by the reception it got from my parents – and, less importantly, minor celebrity Sean Connery – it would be money well spent on great, human, humorous entertainment. And if there’s one thing this country needs more of it’s that. Oh yeah, and more Big Al, too. That’s another thing. Which seems as good a point as any to stop at, so I’ll just wish the filmmakers all the best for the future and hope we hear more from them soon. I for one can’t wait until we do.

Check out the film’s website at

Posted on November 19, 2003 in Interviews by


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