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When only the best will do

Category: One More Kiss News
Article Date: October 12, 1998 | Publication: The Herald (Glasgow) | Author: Annette Mccann

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In an old stable building tucked behind a chintzy

Borders restaurant the cameras are rolling but the director, Vadim Jean, without a star, is delighted. In his search for the cream of British actors, he has failed spectacularly to come up with a single big name and instead, quite accidentally, has turned up an all-Scottish cast which he simply describes as the "best actors of their generation".

His latest venture spells big-name fatigue. One More Kiss, a tense love story, marks a return to the 34-year-old pulling all the strings in a mode reminiscent of his award-winning work in Leon the Pig Farmer.

Last year he was directing Kelsey Grammer, best known as Frasier, in a family comedy, The Real Howard Spitz, that received mixed reviews, last Wednesday it was Glasgow's Valerie Edmond of Kavanagh QC and Crow Road fame.

Speaking on location in Berwick-upon-Tweed, Jean says: "Kelsey Grammer is a fantastic actor and it was a really good experience. But as soon as you have any kind of star in a film there are different kinds of pressure on you and what tends to happen is that it creates a whole load of other things where you find yourself creating an atmosphere that makes them happy.

"It's just that people at that level are used to being treated in a certain way, and who can blame them? But what happens is the cost of the film increases dramatically and you reschedule the film around them."

Edmond was the director's first choice for the leading character Sarah Hopson, a successful New York literary agent, who returns to her home town in the Borders after going through a life-changing experience. Gerard Butler, best known for his role in Mrs Brown, plays her long-lost love who sees his otherwise happy marriage plunged into chaos by Sarah's return.

"I picked the best from the screen test and, regardless of the amount of money, I would still cast it in the same way," adds Jean. "I took a chance on Valerie when very, very well-known actresses wanted to do that role. I wasn't interested in 'names' or the latest faddy casting people. The money might say cast Robert Carlyle in Gerard's part or Ewan McGregor but I simply picked the best people and they all happened to be Scottish."

It is this attitude which is credited with kick-starting the renaissance in British films. Instead of whingeing about the state of the industry, Jean and fellow director Gary Sinyor released Leon the Pig Farmer in 1993, paving the way for other budding directors.

But sacrifices in cost have to be made for carrying such an attitude. The film, which is expected to be released next autumn, is being shot only with available light. An army of local people volunteered as extras and the Mayor of Berwick gave up his parking space for the production vehicle. The original intention was for the film to be set in Jean's home town of Bristol but, after scouring the north-east coast right up to Dundee, he was sold on the dramatic landscapes of Burnmouth with its wide-open skies. Scenes have also been shot in Edinburgh with the opening and closing sequences of the film due to be filmed in New York.

Edmond shares some of her character's experiences of New York, having spent long lonely months there waiting for her big break just before the Crow Road came along. "I think there is an anonymity about New York and I can relate to Sarah on that: it is very difficult to find love when people are so concerned about success and their professional actions. There really isn't an awful lot of space for love in New York."

The film is an attempt to drive what Jean sees as a wedge between the UK's schizophrenic penchant for romantic comedy and the cutting-edge drama of Trainspotting.

Butler, who plays restaurateur Sam Murray, is torn between his affections for his wife Charlotte, played by Valerie Gogan, best known for Hamish Macbeth, and the tragic figure Sarah. James Cosmo, who has managed to avoid his now legendary menacing roles seen in Braveheart and Roughnecks, is cast in the part of Sarah's doting father Frank, whose life has come to a standstill since the departure of his daughter.

Taking time out from filming, Butler says that while working with Dame Judi Dench and Billy Connolly was "a dream come true", he is more at home on the low-budget set.

"Mrs Brown was my first job on a film set and I was on an extreme learning curve, but I think I prefer this kind of thing. There is a much more relaxed atmosphere and no kind of external control, it gives you the chance to have more of an input in the creative process."

Meanwhile, Jean admits to being somewhat overwhelmed by the Borders hospitality. "I suppose I am used to grumpy old London and when we were filming an exterior shot of this school this man came stomping across the playground and I thought: 'Oh here it comes: you cannot film here mate!'. But instead, this man asks quite politely: 'The kids are due out in 15 minutes, do you want me to hold them back so that it doesn't spoil your shot?' "

Copyright 1998 Scottish Media Newspapers Limited


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