City filmmakers creating a real buzz with debut

Edison Bolt, played by Mark McDonnell
Edison Bolt, played by Mark McDonnell
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Kapow!! And so it all began, almost 20 years ago, in the mind of a college student.

The story of the world’s most expensive comic and the crazy exploits of a motley crew desperate to get their hands on it.

The late Richard Steel with Scott, David and producer Ellen Jackson

The late Richard Steel with Scott, David and producer Ellen Jackson

Now the dream by that student to turn the unlikely tale into a film has finally become a reality, but not without a labour of love which has itself seen hope and despair, joy and tragedy.

Shot on a shoestring budget and filmed in just 19 days, Scotland’s newest feature film – Electric Man – will soon be given its big-screen debut.

Filmed in Edinburgh at a cost of just £55,000, it tells the story of issue one of Electric Man – a comic which is rare, valuable and in demand.

When the publication accidentally turns up in the a shop belonging to Jazz and Wolf, they think their financial worries are over.

Emily Lockwood's Victoria

Emily Lockwood's Victoria

But unfortunately for them, it is also being pursued by obsessed American collector Edison Bolt, the mysterious and beautiful Lauren McCall and her violent Uncle Jimmy, played by former Marillion frontman, Fish.

Any means possible – burglary, electrocution, kissing – are employed by the trio in an attempt to get the comic.

Electric Man will premiere at the Glasgow Film Festival next month as part of a strand of comic book movies curated by Mark Millar, writer of Kick-Ass and Wanted.

Co-writer and director David Barras, 42, from Leith, who penned the screenplay alongside Scott Mackay, 43, of Armadale, has high hopes.

“Comic book movies are far more mainstream than they used to be,” he says.

“They’re doing really well at the box office.

“The script for Electric Man is actually very old, Scott first came up with a draft when he was at college in the mid-90s.

“Originally, the comic was going to be Action Comics #1, which featured the first appearance of Superman.

“A copy of it sold recently for a million dollars.

“But sorting out the licensing was too difficult, so we created a comic book of our own.”

The film was shot on location at Deadhead Comics in Candlemaker Row, with many of the incidents in the storyline based on happenings in the store.

But the making of the Electric Man has been far from straightforward.

In May, tragedy struck after the film’s camera man, Richard Steel, 40, from Lasswade, died after losing control of his £110,000 Aston Martin near Menstrie, Clackmannanshire.

“When Richard had his crash, we were deep in post-production,” says David.

“The film has now been dedicated to Richard and his name appears as the final credits run.

“Electric Man was his first feature film as a cameraman, and without him, it would not have looked as good as it does.

“In many ways, it was the last big thing that Richard worked on.

“Electric Man would have been a springboard for him in the same way it will be a springboard for us.”

The budget for the film was raised through a combination of crowd sourcing and small investors. In a shrewd attempt to make money, David and Scott even went round comic book conventions selling articles relating to the film before it had been made.

“It was very difficult putting the film together on a low budget – it’s difficult putting together a film under any circumstances,” adds David.

“It is an indie film, but it looks good.

“One of the things people say when they go to see it is that it looks like a proper movie.”

And the tight schedule of just 19 days meant the cast and crew were pushed to the limit in making sure every second counted.

“It really was a highwire act,” says David.

“We were rained off locations and had to switch everything round at the last minute.

“On one occasion, we were filming a scene down at Bristo Square, where Jazz and Wolf had to work out who was going to get the comic.

“We had a crane built for the day. But then it just started chucking it down with rain.

“There was just no way we were going to be able to do it – it was a bit of a heart-in-the-mouth moment.”

In a last-minute change, the crew ended up packing everything up and heading down to an alternative venue, the Scotland Street tunnel.

“Nineteen days for a feature film is very tight, but everybody involved was totally on the page,” says David.

Their efforts certainly seem to have paid off. David and Scott have already been nominated in the BAFTA New Talent Awards.

After premiering at the Glasgow Film Festival, the filmmakers will be touring Electric Man around Scotland.

At each venue cast and crew members will introduce the film and take part in a question and answer session afterwards.

Electric Man’s biggest name, Fish, pictured above, plays the murderous Uncle Jimmy, who kills his brother to possess the treasured comic.

He says: “As a film, I think Electric Man does have a certain Fish Called Wanda quality about it – a kind of British quality – but it’s definitely a Scottish film.

“It was a wonderful film to work on. Everybody was in it for the right reasons.

“It deserves the attention it is receiving.”

David hopes Electric Man could spell a new dawn for Scottish filmmaking.

“It doesn’t fall in to that category of council schemes and drugtaking which seems to have become a sort of cliché in Scottish film.

“We really wanted to make Edinburgh look like the beautiful city that it is.

“Hopefully, we will be one of the first of a new movement of Scottish films – the sort of movie you want to go and see on a Saturday night.”