Scotland – Not Scottish Enough

February 21, 2006

Irvine Welsh’s novel, Ecstasy, was controversial enough back in 1997 for accurately portraying (glorfying?) what it’s like to be under the influence of an ecstasy tablet. Nine years on, and Welsh seems to be unable to remove himself from these close-encounters, but this time it’s the movie-makers who are in a strop over the drug-addled story.

Irvine’s seventh book is currently filming in Scotland with stars such as Trevor Eve, John Hannah and Kathleen McDermott, but in a few weeks the entire production is scheduled to be moved down south to England to complete production.

Why the shift? Producers were told by the backers, Scottish Screen, that the project did not qualify for lottery funding as the locations “weren’t Scottish enough” to be shot in Scotland.

Scottish Screen have been arguing with the producers over a true Scottish location for some time now and as a result, the £6 million movie about Edinburgh’s drug scene will now be filmed on the streets of Liverpool.

Is it that Liverpool has a suitable backdrop equivalent to that of Edinburgh? Or is it that the world’s perception of Scotland, and in particular it’s cancerous drug-addicted section of society, is worse than it is in reality?

This may of course be down to the success of such films like Trainspotting, which exposed the world to the effects of heroin from an Edinburgh council estate (shot in Glasgow!) A victim of his own success, Welsh may be, but does Scotland deserve to be treated this way when it is trying to remove itself from the drug and alcohol stereotypes we read about almost daily?

I’m sure moving the location of the story to Liverpool will give the film a harder, more deprecating feel, after all, everyone knows the streets of Liverpool are riddled with needles, discarded tin-foil and single mothers with nothing better to do than neglect their kids for the chance of a quick hit.

When the Liverpudlians find out their city is perceived as being relative to the lowest of the Scottish low, maybe they will unite with the people of Edinburgh and voice it to the world that Scotland, England and Britain may have a drug problem, but why should we tell the world it is worse than it is just to make the fat-cat movie producers a bit of holiday cash.



  1. How stupid!

    But fillmmaking here is suffering, too, because they try to shoot everything in Canada.

    And, face it, Toronto can’t sub for New York.

  2. One might also consider that Liverpool has already been used as the setting for a drug-based movie, “51st State” (or “Forumla 51” depending on your country), even going so far as to use Liverpool FC’s home ground for the climax. However, at least the film was supposed to be in Liverpool.

    It’s usually the way with adaptations though: “Candyman” was based on a Clive Barker story from his “Books of Blood” collection, the story was set on a rundown estate in Liverpool yet the film was set in Chicago.

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