Seeing red: Filmmaker Scott Harris on being ginger

Scott Harris has made a movie about his search for love. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Scott Harris has made a movie about his search for love. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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SITTING in a cafe with a pretty woman, filmmaker Scott Harris looked up. An older man approached with haste, eager to chat not about the weather or the price of the coffee, but about one thing only: Scott’s hair.

“I’ve heard it all and been called all the names,” smiles Scott, 32. “But I’m not offended; I just find it a bit shocking.

“I’ve been in pubs and restaurants when people I don’t know have made fun of my hair colour, like that man did.

“He just came up when I was with a cute French girl and said to her, you aren’t dating a ginger are you?”

Scott, like the mass of Edinburgh redheads who took part in the UK’s first Ginger Pride Walk as part of the Fringe earlier this month, is used to being the object of ridicule.

“There was another time when I was out having a drink and this woman came up to me and said something about my hair colour.

“She came back later to apologise and told me her children were ginger too, but she still loved them.

“Usually there is no response to something like that, but then there are times when it’s funny.

“Once I was walking down the street and this group of guys were coming towards me.

“One was bald and looked sickly – he had all the signs of going through chemotherapy. He pointed at me and said to his friends – at least I’m not ginger. That one made me laugh out loud.”

Edinburgh College of Art graduate Scott has heard so many of these stories, his friends suggested he ought to make a film about the trials and tribulations of being ginger.

Scott, who grew up in California, was studying for his MFA – Master of Fine Art in Filmmaking at the time, so the project started out as his graduation film.

“I was sitting around talking to my friends, and telling them about what people have said to me based on my hair colour,” he says.

“They couldn’t believe it and said I should make a film about it. The original short was for my graduation project and it had a cliff-hanger ending.

“So a few months later I picked the camera up and went back to filming. The short then effectively became the first act of a much longer story that now has a proper conclusion.

“But I didn’t want to make a film about being teased. So instead the film is about finding love. It’s really a romantic comedy. I would always hear about women who love red-haired men, but I’d never meet any of these women. So the film ended up being a labour of love about my search for love.”

Scott spent the last three years working on the film, which was shot on location in the Capital.

The University of Texas graduate recruited friends to help with the project and self-funded the film.

Scott puts the total cost of the project at around £50,000, the majority of which he has paid for himself working a variety of different jobs and using credit cards.

He also raised some cash through Kick- starter, a company which helps with fund- raising for creative projects.

The team filmed on The Meadows, stopping people and asking them their thoughts on people with red hair, specifically Scott’s.

And they also filmed in the city centre and around the Edinburgh College of Art campus on Lady Lawson Street.

The result of all his hard work is a 69-minute film, Being Ginger.

“I would stop and ask people about their thoughts on red-heads and dating them,” says Scott. “And there was a trend, because most women responded with mild humour.

“Although everyone was nice there were stereotypical answers. And it tends to be that ginger men are considered nerdy and goofy and usually bad with women, whereas red-haired women are considered to be hot, sexy and fiery.”

Scott came to Scotland from his native America four years ago, but his roots to this country go much deeper.

“My dad Bruce was brought up in Scotland, but moved to the States when he was ten,” he says. “I’ve been coming here since I was 16 and I’ve found when it comes to reactions on being a redhead, it isn’t the place, it’s the people.

“I’ve spoken to redheads from around the world and for some they haven’t had a problem with gingerism, yet I was bullied as a kid.

“We have progressed as a society but gingerism is still acceptable for some reason. My nephew is three years old and I worry about what he will have to go through because of his [ginger] hair.

“I got through it but there will be times when it’s a challenge for him.”

But perhaps perceptions about redheads are changing?

Now there are plenty of famous “ginger’” faces considered to be sex symbols or snaring spots in lists of the world’s most beautiful people.

And whilst Scott isn’t a fan of celebrity culture, he does see the value in having famous redheads.

“I don’t like the modern-day obsession with celebrities but there several big red-haired actors who have helped change people’s perceptions, people like Damian Lewis and Ed Sheeran, which is great,” he says.

“And if more women growing up had pictures of Ron Weasley on their walls than Harry Potter then that could help with gingerism for the next generation.

“It might even make the next generation of redheads luckier with the ladies.”

Over the years Scott says he has been unlucky in love. But he believes the film helped him gain confidence.

And whilst it is a love story, Scott is keeping quiet on whether he found love or not during filming.

“I couldn’t possibly comment,” he laughs. “There is an ‘ending’ but people will have to watch the film to find out.

“But I will say I am extremely happy. And depending on how well this film goes down, there may or may not be a sequel.”

• Scott’s film is now available from www.beingginger.co.uk