Teviot sponsored the Documentary Strand at this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival so of course it was only right that we headed down to this year’s festival to see some of the documentaries for ourselves. And for us, one of the stand out films of the festival was Teenage Superstars, director Grant McPhee’s follow up to 2015’s Big Gold Dreams.
Teenage Superstars tells the story of the pre-Britpop, Scottish music scene from the early 80s to early 90s. The film is a mix of archive footage and interviews and focuses on the conception and incubation of several Scottish bands, including The Pastels, BMX Bandits, The Vaselines, Primal Scream, Teenage Fanclub, The Soup Dragons and The Jesus & Mary Chain. It’s a charismatic documentary that gives a great insight into the music scene in Glasgow during the 1980s and we’re sure it’ll create a feeling of nostalgia for many Scottish music fans.
After the screening there was a Q&A session with Producer Wendy Griffin and Editor/Co-producer Angela Slaven and below we’ve got some of the stand out questions from the session…
Was there always a plan to make two films?
“Originally no, director Grant McPhee had been filming for 10 years so there was an incredible amount of footage to use – he wouldn’t stop interviewing people! The original plan was to make just the one film, but due to the insane amount of footage it had to be split into two films. And after reviewing all the footage it was easy to see the natural split of the two films.”
You must have to be quite trusting as an artist when you’re doing interviews for things like this, as it’s so easy to edit footage and and paint a different picture – what is your take on this?
“The artists placed their trust in us, for a few of them it was their first time doing an interview like this for a film so it was a really big thing for them – but we made sure everyone spoke for themselves and said what they wanted to say. We are also such big fans so we naturally wanted to portray everyone interviewed in a good light. We approached many of the interviews from a fans perspective, as well as a storyteller’s perspective – so as well as chatting to the artists/bands for the film it was a great way to discover new things about the artists.”
Did anyone object to their portrayal in the film?
“Luckily no, many artists saw the earlier cuts of the documentary/their interviews as Grant always ran it by them so they knew what was coming – he loved getting people involved.”
Why was there no music from The Soup Dragons or Primal Screen used in the movie?
“Simple answer – cost. One of the songs that is mentioned in the documentary is ‘I’m Free’ by The Soup Dragons – their UK chart breakthrough song. But of course due to this being an up-tempo cover of a Rolling Stones song, if we wanted to use this in the documentary then it would have cost more to use than the production of the entire film. And since the music is still relatively well known we thought it wasn’t vital that it was included.”
Were there any bands or artists you wanted involved in the film but couldn’t get?
“The Reid brothers (The Jesus & Mary Chain) and Bobbie Gillespie (Primal Scream)
But the charm of the film is that there are lots of bands and artists involved who haven’t actually been on screen in this type of interview format before – so that’s really cool.”
Why was Kim Deal chosen to narrate the film?
“Kim was chosen due to her connection with The Breeders. She was great about the whole thing, she appreciated the fact that it was a low budget film and recorded her narration in her studio at her house and even sent over three different versions – although one recording was super slow and sounded a little bit like a late night call line so we didn’t use that version for obvious reasons. There were also one or two Scottish pronunciation issues but we got that all sorted!”
Director Grant McPhee unfortunately could not attend the Q&A but he very kindly answered a question we emailed over to him…
How do you feel the music scene in Scotland today, compares with that of the music scene in the mid 80s to early 90s?
“I think musically there is a lot of fantastic stuff going on still today. It’s very hard for anywhere with such a big shadow as Postcard hanging over it to move away from that. Its influence is still everywhere, and doing the opposite of Postcard to just be different only makes it as apparent. Postcard really changed things for Glasgow in a fundamental way and it must be very difficult to not be influenced. So other than trying to just make good music there’s the added inevitable comparisons which will be made from labels past. And that included the bands featured in Teenage Superstars. Our film took the approach that the bands of the mid 80s and early 90s had different ideologies and a set of different influences. But even in 1985 it was only 20 years since Rubber Soul and there were still new genres to be discovered. Now it’s more than 50.
But Scotland has always had a pop sensibility and a desire to write the perfect pop song and I think that will always be the case regardless of what form or package that takes. And even now perfect pop songs are still being written with a far more diverse sense of influences. Postcard and the Creation/53rd bands have cross pollinated across the world and that influence has come back to Scotland in different forms, and that can only be a good thing.”
They finished the session letting the audience know that there’s a plan to put on a few Scottish events and screen both of the films together – so keep your eyes peeled for that!
As well as sponsoring the renowned Documentary Strand at this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival Teviot also designed and built the new website, which you can check out here. The new site was designed using the latest digital innovation and best practice and there was a heavy focus on creating a clear and more intuitive user experience – and we’re extremely proud of the end result!
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