Magazine article Screen International

'Shell' Director Scott Graham: "I’m Happy to Take a Few Knocks"

Magazine article Screen International

'Shell' Director Scott Graham: "I’m Happy to Take a Few Knocks"

Article excerpt

When Scott Graham's second feature Iona closed the Edinburgh Film Festival last June, it soon became clear that the exceptional acclaim that had greeted his 2012 debut Shell would not be repeated.

Shell went on to a British Independent Film Award win for actress Chloe Pirrie and a BAFTA nomination for Graham, clear validation of his selection as a Screen International Star of Tomorrow in 2011.

Reaction to Iona at Edinburgh was mixed, with Screen International itself pinpointing a narrative "somehow less convincing than Shell and more generically familiar".

The film begins with teenager Bull (Ben Gallagher) killing his own step-father, then escaping with his mother Iona (Ruth Negga) to the remote Scottish island of her youth – a highly dramatic event that sets up genre expectations that the film arguably has no interest in fulfilling, as Iona and Bull instead connect with characters from Iona's past.

One person who had immediate doubts about the film after Edinburgh is Graham himself. "I was setting up one thing, and then delivering another," he says, although he sees this disparity less in terms of genre than in point of view.

"Although the film is very much Iona's story, we are giving the perspective of each of the six characters, seven if you count the island. By beginning in Glasgow, we lost some of that shared perspective."

Graham communicated his feelings to producer Margaret Matheson (with whom he collaborated on Shell), explaining he was interested in rethinking the film. But with Iona already accepted into San Sebastian, a new version would need to be accomplished swiftly.

"We talked about it for a few days," says Graham. "Margaret was open to it, but obviously cautious, because the film was essentially finished."

"It's a nuisance doing things again that you've already done, just practical things," Matheson concedes. "But exploring how to get the best out of material, that's my job. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.