'Babes' will back Butler as the new film face of Rabbie Burns

Category: Burns News | Posted by: maryp
Article Date: June 8, 2009 | Publication: Scotsman.com | Author: MARTYN McLAUGHLIN
Publication/Article Link:Scotsman.com

FEMALE fans of one of Scotland's biggest movie stars are campaigning to help get the cameras rolling on a film about Robert Burns.
Gerard Butler is set to star as Scotland's national poet in the production during the year of Homecoming.

Members of Butler's considerable international female fanbase – known as Butler's Babes – will come to Glasgow to stage a benefit event, in lieu of investment from film financiers.

Such is the devotion of some of the actor's fans, they have even set up their own production companies to help snowball investment.

Even so, the future of the £5 million film, first mooted a decade ago, is unclear.

Although Mob Films, the production company behind Burns: The Movie, has held discussions with Scottish Screen, The Scotsman can reveal that it has not yet even applied to the agency for funding.

A fundraising dinner at Edinburgh Castle, to be hosted by First Minister Alex Salmond, has also been indefinitely delayed.

Far from dousing the enthusiasm of Butler's fanbase, the lack of progress has only motivated them into action. Sandra Horyski, from Winnipeg, Canada, is organising the Burns Film Benefit, to be held on 28 July in Glasgow's Oran Mor with as many as 400 people expected.

She has already spoken to the film's director, Vadim Jean, and will meet executives at Mob Films to discuss how her fellow fans can continue to help. "Our goal is to bring people together to share the legend that is Burns and to help raise as much money as we can for the film," she said.

Such is Ms Horyski's dedication to the cause, she has even given Butler a rare 1830 volume of Burns' poetry carried by her great-grandfather in the battlefields of the First World War.

Although Butler, 39, has described his following as "surreal," he has filmed messages for fan events and donated film props and costumes to their auctions, raising hundreds of thousands of pounds for charity.

Yet the fans' long-held dream of seeing Butler play Burns – Ms Horyski said he has the "rare ability to become the character" – may not be realised. Mob Films say the film, to be co-produced by Evil Twins, a production company co-owned by Butler, remains "in development".

Andrew Boswell, its producer, said the firm is "supportive" of the fan event, but told The Scotsman he did not want to "overexpose the film".

In January, the company said a "major part" of the funding was in place, but appealed for additional sponsorship.

To date, East Ayrshire Council has pledged £1,000. Other investors, however, believe a cinematic release is far off. "The company seems to be having real difficulty getting the financing," confirmed one.

The Scottish Government said it was liaising with the firm to rearrange the event hosted by Mr Salmond. Butler's agent was not available for comment.