You are currently browsing the monthly archive for March 2012.


Stuart Hepburn
Lecturer in Screenwriting & Performance,
Room 2.006, School of Creative & Cultural Industries
University of the West of Scotland
University Campus Ayr
University Avenue
Ayr KA8 0SR
Creativity Place
01292 886461
From: Raewyn Riach
Sent: 26 March 2012 09:36
To: DL-All Staff(New)
Subject: FW: Boswell Book Festival 2012 Announce Programme of Events

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In Field of Dreams Kevin Costener’s character is told by an invisible voice  ” If you build it , he will come” .

So this guy,  who everyone else thinks is crazy,   builds a baseball stadium in the middle of his corn field, and sure enough, Shoeless Joe Jackson and the Chicago White Sox team of 1919 emerge out of the corn to play a game of baseball. That same blind  trust in providing the facilities for an as yet unplanned gig  is  shown by the ghost of  Jim Morrison in Wayne’s World 2 where he advises Wayne that Aerosmith  will show up for Waynstock , if only he has the courage to  book them.

Well, that’s all fine and dandy for Hollywood dreamland, but what’s it like in real life when you announce  an open creative  space at a certain time and place hope that someone decides to show up and fill it?

That’s where we were five  weeks ago at the University Of The West Of Scotland‘s £80 million pound campus in Ayr when we announced that every Wednesday  there would be a “hack day ” in our new TV Studio  where students could come along and just  ”create stuff”. For what it’s worth, the new studio is light years ahead of our old facilities on the Cragie Campus and we are searching for new ways of using these fantastic facilities. The new campus requires a new imaginitive mindset, so  hence the “hack day” initiaitive. The point is, would it work?

The first week, six students turned up, all of them actors on our Contemporary Screen Acting Programme. So far so good, but there is a limit to what actors can achieve without technical back up. The breakthrough was when my colleague Jane Robertson  realised that we could integrate the process where some students were creating their marked assessments, while others on the production side were voluntarily  helping them to record them. Except we didn’t have any on the production side. So we expanded the invitation, and got the support of our colleagues in other programmes, notably Paul Tucker in Broadcast Production, to advertise  as widely as possible.

The second week , 7   actors turned up, and one brave Broadcast Production student.

The third week, we had MORE actors, and TWO production students.

Now in  the fourth week, we have 4 broadcast students, two film makers, and 15 actors, all of whom (without tutor input) are rehearsing, lighting, recording and editing work for their own individual portfolios.

Anna Kennedy, Mike Murray, Emjay Doherty and  Lizzie Kane in the TV Studios.

I couldn’t be there for the first hour of the process yesterday , and apologised to students in advance. Of course, if I wasn’t there, nothing of any import could possibly happen.


I arrived AN HOUR AND A HALF late  to find groups of students from three different programmes  rehearsing, recording, and generally enjoying the creative atmosphere…ON A VOLUNTARY BASIS! More than this, the students  had started arranging to help each other with technical support and encouragement even outwith the “hack  day ” time slot. I heard one group agreeing to collaborate on the basis of “working from 4pm  till 8pm  at night.” Have you ever tried to get students to stay even half an hour after class at 4 pm? Here they were agreeing to work overtime amongst themselves.

It’s too soon to tell if the euphoria of the first few weeks will continue. No doubt as we get closer to assessment deadlines the numbers may drop off, but for the moment, the experiment has proved a success.

I am hoping that in the future on this blog I will be able to showcase some of the students creative work to show just what the possibilities are for this way of working. In the mean time, hopefully, we’ll build it, and they will continue to  come.

Steven Black and Gareth Malone in the Control Room.

WCA! Monthly Workshops are fun, constructive and a great networking opportunity – come and be part of the madness Excited 

 Next WCA!  Monday 19th March Venue:      CCA Theatre, 1st level, 350 Sauchiehall St, GlasgowSign-In:    WCA! desk at Reception Sign in from 6.00 p.m. get drinks in a PLASTIC glass, then join us upstairs in main Theatre for networking until CASTING at 7.00 p.m. prompt.

Cost:         £3 WCA! Members / £5 others.  All entry includes a FREE raffle ticket for 2 Cineworld Comp Tickets.   Last months winner was Mrs K. Norve!

FOUR great scripts being workshopped requiring 7 MALES, 6 FEMALES, 1 FEMALE CHILD range.  At least two of the scripts being workshopped tonight are in development for  production by late Summer.  Observors always welcome, and Actors remaining after scripted work has been cast will form scene led improvisation workshops.  As Improv workshops are not copyrighted work in progress, we will be taking STILLS to load on our WCA! Website, and in coming months clips and footage of improv performance.  Consent is contained in registration signature, if unsure check with WCA! Personnel. 

Writers, Actors, Directors – Get your work seen by an Audience, Producers, film fans, get feedback, and start the journey towards getting it produced! for festivals, for fun, for showreels, competitions, calling cards etc.  Many scripts go on to be produced, making them eligible to enter the annual WCA! Screening & Awards Night, subject to criteria as per website.

A HUGE thanks to ALL who participate in Write Camera Action! and to our host venues CCA & Unity Enterprise for supported spaces to work in! 


 WCA! Membership is available on workshop nights and by post. Photos can be supplied free on a workshop night for your card, simply let one of the WCA! Assistants knpw.

WCA! is a voluntary run, not-for-profit organisation in support if Independent filmmaking – Support Home Grown!

mobile contact: 07716658896


Rachel Kennedy, Sam Love, Daniella Ritchie, John S Caldwell, James Todd and the team celebrate their wins.

Contemporary Screen Acting students from University of the West Of Scotland won three awards at the FilmG Gaelic shorts award ceremony at Glasgow’s  Fruitmarket Gallery last night. MG ALBA , the Gaelic Media Service have created the FilmG  short film competition in order to foster and encourage film makers in the gaelic medium. Our  student’s five minute film An Aite Eader na Facail (The Space Between Words) won Best Director, Best Drama, and the People’s Award.
The film was created as part of the fourth year Screen Drama module, where students are tasked with creating a five minute film . This is a Cross Programmatical module where Directors, Writers, Actors and Musicians can all be assessed through their specialisations.
Although 7 other films were created this year, because one of our students , Rachel Kennedy, is a native Gaelic speaker, this  student team   decided to make their film in the  Gaelic medium and to enter it into the annual FilmG Competition.
All this bore fruit at the Fruitmarket last night as they won three awards, including Best Drama.
Special praise should go to Director Of Photography , John S Caldwell, whose Black Pepper Studios  provided all the post production facilities.
Below you can see the full list of prize winners, and the films can be accessed by clicking on their titles.


Rachel Kennedy, Daniella Ritchie, Sam Love, John S Caldwell James Todd and the the team at the FilmG Awards in Glasgow on 9th March 2012

This will give you an idea of the sort of thing I have been writing.




Northern France

November 1940


I look at the Calendar and to my  astonishment I see that a further 5 weeks have passed since my last letter.

The first thing I must do is once again apologise for my writing. Hopefully you can see that in my defence  I am still  using  my right  hand.    I have been very poorly over the past five months let alone weeks but I very much hope that I am on the mend  and things seem much clearer in my head than they were in the last letter.

I took the precaution of making a copy of it and I  must have left you wondering what direction my war  was going  to take.

The adventures I have  experienced in the past few weeks would have taxed the imagination of a writer of fiction, let alone a chronicler of war. After all the travails I have undergone , I have spent much of the time since my last letter reading such fiction, and also works of poetry and even philosophy.

You must be asking yourself where is this library in the middle of a war? I will  describe  my surroundings on this 14th day of November 1940. I am in a tiny attic room , lying on a paliasse of straw covered in fine linen. To one side of me is a small dressing table of oak on which sits an earthenware water jug and glass. To the other a bookcase filled with the works of Stevenson, Scott and Burns, and also a new treat to me, the letters of Rimbaud. On the wall, a shelf with the writings of Balzac, Hugo, and Marx. All these , and people  of whom you have probably never heard such as Alexandre Kojève and Gabriel Marcel . I have the classics in the form of  Pliny the Elder’s “Natural History”,  and Plutarch’s “Life Of Alexander” .Such  are my bedmates in this biblioteque  de la guerre.

I only have natural light which is coming from  a tiny skylight window in the roof which is covered with greaseproof paper to obscure the vision of any storks who might want to intrude through the glass.

But once again, I am guilty of over reaching myself.

Let me take you back to a dirty ditch by a cow field in Northern France all of five months ago.

I jumped  through the fence and then been pinioned by some unseen barbed wire which bit deep into my arm. I rolled over in panic and pulled and pulled for all I was worth till the fencewire yielded and I finally fell down the banking and into the water.

I don’t know how long I lay there expecting my youthful guards to appear by the fence and put me to rest with a bullet, but no visitor arrived.

I became aware of the men in the field being roused, mustered and marched off.  I think I waited at least two  hours before I risked getting out of the dub and climbing up to the fence. I was greeted by the sight  of a field, empty of all human life, apart from the piles of human waste, dirty bandages and the odd empty sardine tin  which my comrades had been forced to leave. Apart from that it was as if the 9,000 men who had spent the night were ghosts who had never been there at all. God help them on their journey to who knows what.


The delight I felt at my freedom was tempered by the realization that I had injured my arm. I peeled of the cloth of my boiler suit and saw I had  a series of deep blue/red gashes in my flesh  oozing  blood through the mud. My arm  began to pound with a pain more  severe than anything   I have felt before and goodness knows what filth had got into the wound.

I found an old field dressing and tied a few strips of it round my arm to try to staunch the blood and put my boiler suit back on.

I was aware of German armour passing on the road below, and decided  to stay in my hiding place till dark. By the time the sun set, my arm felt as if it was held in a vice , and throbbed  with pain. I was feeling very sorry for myself , and wondered if I had done the right thing in trying to escape. I’m not much good on my own as you know , Fergus. I missed my comrades more than I could say, and the memory of Sergeant McGregor winking at me as I left haunted me.

After sunset I headed in the opposite direction from the road into a wood to the West, and tried to walk through it in the dark. I was forced into the dawning realization that though I could only move in the dark for safety, while I was in the dark I  had no idea where I was going. I had stumbled and staggered blindly for quite some time and only succeeded in walking into bramble patches and being scratched by low tree branches. It makes you realise how important  knowing the country you are walking through is for navigating safely. If I had found myself in Clune Wood on a night as  black as the Earl O’ Hell’s waistcoat, I’d s have got home blindfold . But here in France  I was simply  lost.

Eventually I  sat down in the moonshadow of a fallen oak and realised I must wait for the first light  to have any chance at all of getting to safety, whatever the risks.

By dawn I was shivering with cold and had no food nor clean water for 36 hours. The arm on me was getting more and more swollen so I had to find somewhere at least to shelter and at try to get some sleep.

And then the smell. The umistakeble smell of pigs.

I made my way towards the source and  through the trees was a pigsty in the middle of a field of glaur.

The pigsty was made of bent hazel with a pine door wedged shut with a piece of oak.

I opened the door and looked in and there was a huge old sow with about 8 of a farrow staring right back at me. There was straw and water and a bowl of neep sheughs in there so I thought no more of it and went straight in. I drank some water and chewed on a bit of neep and then I must have fallen asleep with the warmth of the old pig and my thirst slaked.

I was woken by a noise outside and there was nothing for it but to poke my head out , to be met by an old woman wearing clogs and a long black coat and dress. She took one look at me and started screaming and then ran off . I tried to shout back to her in my poor French. “Je suis un soldat Ecossaise madame” but it was no use.  She was off like a shot though I could hear her screeches echoing through the woods for what seemed like an age.

By this time I thought “I can’t run, I can’t hide…I’m going to await my fate and what will be will be.”

I lay in the sty with my new friends and I swear I was dropping off to sleep when I heard a man’s voice shouting at me to get out . I was on my hands and knees and crawled out of the sty repeating my plea, “Je suis un soldat Ecossais”  and was just in time to see the blade of a shovel come crashing down on the back of my head.

I can’t really remember then  if it was the movement or the noise that woke me, but I was aware of my head moving from side to side. I opened one  eye and saw trees moving along above me…then I felt wooden bars at my sides and realised that I was in a wheel barrow with my legs dragging at the back.

I could only see out of  one eye but there  was a skinny man dressed all in black   with a white hankie in his hand at the side of the barrow . He was kind of crouch walking by the side of me, and could just lift my head to see a huge mountain of a man pushing the barrow along. I must have started moaning or crying because  the skinny man  put the hankie to his mouth and hissed shhhhh through his teeth as we moved out of the woods . We seemed to go across a small country track and then behind a wall at the back of a small cottage. Skinny man  disappeared  off leaving the giant to hop from one foot to the other. I tired to talk but no words came and the big man was no conversationalist. After a few minutes, skinny came back and I could see that he had a big broad black hat in his other hand. We started off again. I was wheeled  through a door somewhere and into the heat of what looked  a stable at one end and a smiddy’s forge at the other.

“Je suis un soldat…..”says I.

Skinny  once again told me to sssssh…and I could see now that he was a Priest in a long black coat. Him and the giant left me alone in the dark as the door slid shut with nothing for company but a bony old mule  in a stall glaring at me as he munched on a hay sack. I could just make it out his brown teeth as pulled out the straw with his pink tongue. Pigs and mules. I couldn’t help wondering if  these were  to be my only  fellow borders in this extraordinary French vacation.

My head was sore fit to burst and as I squinted at the mule,  I thought I had gone blind in one eye. I managed to feel my head and realised that they had put a bandage round it that had slipped down .  I pushed it up bit and by the grace of God could then see with the other  eye too, and could  feel with  my good arm that the bandage  was sticky and crusted. I think I fell asleep again because the next thing I was aware of was this dirty filthy black bearded face looking down at me  from underneath a miner’s helmet . He looked a little bit better than a pig or a mule, but there wasn’t much in it. I started croaking….

“Je suis un soldat Ecossais…Je suis”

Blackbeard brought out a dirty finger and put it to my lips. I could taste the coal on it and spat it away. I  repeated my chant as if my life depended on it…. “Je suis un soldat Ecossais”.

To my dying day, I will never forget the what he said to me.

“Aye son, so am I . But I widnae shout too loud aboot it. Now haud yer wheesht “

Then everything went black.

This will give you an idea of the sort of thing I have been writing. 

This is Letter 8 .


This will give you an i

Stuart On Twitter

  • RT @BBCWalesNews: Finding time and space in Wales - how the Doctor made his home in Cardiff #DoctorWho50th http://t.… 1 hour ago
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Invitation: SDTN Annual Conference 2012

Invitation: SDTN Annual Conference 2012

Boswell Book Festival 2012 Announce Programme of Events

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