Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh has gifted the movie rights to one of his short stories to a group of film students.
The Inner City Arts course for young and unemployed people at Edinburgh College is set to adapt Welsh’s 1997 tale The State of the Party.
The course is run by Bafta-winning director Garry Fraser, whose journey from drug-addled criminal to acclaimed film-maker mirrors themes in many of Welsh’s books.
Students will work closely with Garry and will even get the chance to consult with Welsh – who’s previously seen short stories Acid House and Ecstasy turned into films – via a video link-up.
Garry secured Welsh’s permission after striking up a conversation with the best-selling writer on social media.
The 36-year-old, who grew up in Muirhouse, like Welsh, said he was “very excited” to launch the new project, which will give disadvantaged students the opportunity to take part in all aspects of filming and production.
He said: “The students can relate to Irvine’s work because he uses Scots language, showing that screen-writing is within reach to these young people who speak with the same voice – and that art isn’t just open to an elite few.”
Garry’s film My Lives and Times, a gritty documentary which threw the spotlight on Muirhouse, appeared on the BBC in 2012. He survived a life of drugs, violence and abuse to win the Scottish Newcomer Bafta in film-making last year.
He said his decision to pick up a camera was a choice between “life or death”.
“The life I led was just chaotic – if it wasn’t for film-making I would probably be dead. Making films is like crack for me. I work seven days a week,” he said.
Despite moving to Clermiston, the film-maker returns to Muirhouse often to work with the local community.
“I get hurt when kids that I work with, and who are doing really well in dramas and film-making, go back out to a society that has nothing for them,” he said. “I like to think that I’m trying to give back to the place that made me – and that’s Pilton and Muirhouse.”
The adaptation of The State of the Party will be updated and will be released online.
Irvine Welsh said he was “delighted” and “honoured” to be involved in the project.
He added: “Garry is an astonishingly talented and driven filmmaker, and intimately understands the darkness and humour of the piece.
“He’ll be both inspirational to, and inspired by, the young people he’ll be working with. I’m very excited to see their interpretation of this story.”