Over the past couple of decades from Sex, Lies & Videotapes and El Mariachi until now (via The Blair Witch Project) it has become increasingly more practical for film industry outsiders working on relatively tiny budgets to make what might be considered ‘professional’ movies. What many of these attempts demonstrate, however, is that while HD cameras can be purchased fairly cheaply on Amazon, talent cannot. Part of the pleasure of Electric Man is that, while imperfect, there is clearly a great deal of talent bubbling under the surface.
The film’s writer, Scott MacKay, and director, David Barras, are originally from Armadale, West Lothian. The film received an enthusiastic response on its premiere, at the Glasgow Film Festival, and screened to an equally enthused crowd last week at Bathgate’s Regal Theatre – once the cinema where MacKay and Barras received their early film education. They are of an age to have been influenced by all the movies the geeks in Clerks were so fond of – and the influence extends to that film too, particularly in the relationship of its central two characters.
These are Jazz (Toby Manley) and Wolf (Mark McKirdy), best buddies who run a comic book shop in Edinburgh. Into their hands falls an invaluable comic book: the legendary (and fictitious) Electric Man Episode 1, which preceded the first episode of ‘The Cape’ (Superman) by a whole year. The story is fairly archetypal, with the comic acting as a Maltese Falcon-style MacGuffin: its importance lies as much in its use as a plot device as in its symbolic significance. The noir influence (has any genre had more influence on the history of cinema?) echoes through the film, which features a mysterious hooded redhead called Lauren (Jennifer Ewing) whose name might as well be Femme Fatale.
While – inevitably – there are weaker and stronger performances, particularly impressive is Manley’s leading man (his character’s surname is Archer – another Maltese Falcon reference): the actor has a natural ease and likeability in front of the camera, and is a name worth remembering. Ewing makes for an effective leading lady although it’s a more limited role. Marillion-frontman Fish, behind much of the film’s soundtrack, has an entertaining side-role as the Big Scary Man who is also after the comic: he is one of those people who seems more threatening the more quiet and passive he becomes, and his presence helps the film considerably. MacKay’s script injects enough wit and energy (and countless film references) to keep things entertaining while the camerawork and editing are confident and effective; Barras seems to have a natural ability to know how to shoot a scene, and there is none of the technical flubs I often associate with micro-budget filmmaking.
It isn’t a perfect film (it would be miraculous if it were). Jazz’s friend Wolf seems to draw from the character of Randal in Kevin Smith’s Clerks, matching the obnoxious attitude of that character but failing to capture its humour. Furthermore as much as I enjoyed the performances of the female leads, I grew dismayed with their oh-you-boys-and-your-comics attitude, particularly given the modern prevalence of dedicated female geeks. But I’ve seen enough movies made on similarly tiny budgets to know that this is no small achievement. Despite its current appeal to Hollywood as a cheap filming location (see: World War Z, The Dark Knight Rises) homegrown talent in Scotland is depressingly sparse, and when those films do break through their portrayal of Scotland is usually bleak, to put it mildly. Here is a film with humour and energy and heart, made by people whose primary objective appears to have been to make a movie they themselves would like to see. It showcases the capital in a light in which it is very rarely seen on screen. That is something to be excited about, and Electric Man is worthy of your interest and support.
To find out details of upcoming screenings of Electric Man, visit the official site here.
- 8 Actresses Who Tricked You Into Thinking You Saw Them Nude
- 11 Irresistible Movie Moments That Wore Out Your Pause Button
- 100 Things Wrong With The Dark Knight Rises [Video]
- 10 Scenes You Won't Believe You Missed in 2012
- 10 Most Infuriating Movie Cliffhangers
- 10 Major Plot Holes You Probably Missed
- 10 Happy Movie Endings That Probably Had Horrific Consequences
- 12 Ruthless Movie Villains Who Were Defeated By Complete Fools