Saturday, 3 September 2011

Guest Blogger - Joanie@8pr/8digital

As the BBC shifts Waterloo Road to Scotland and looks to invest further in the future, as we hear rumours of location scouts scuttling around Greenock checking out the views and as the new regional TV channels programme prompts a facebook page championing InverclydeTV, Joanie from 8pr takes a look at the history of Greenock and The Sheds on screen...


2011 and Brad Pitt is filming a Zombie movie (World War Z) in a Glasgow currently doubling as Philadelphia.  The Disney/Pixar team have finished their fact finding visit from San Francisco to gather detail on the terrain for their up-coming animation ‘The Brave,’ set in Scotland and telling the story of a Scottish Princess.  This puts Scotland front and centre in the movie world for 2012.  It’s come a long way from Para Handy’s The Vital Spark filmed in and around The Marine Bar and their boat “The Maggie” moored at Victoria Dock.

As a film location, Greenock has had it’s fair share of movie madness; the dock cranes in the background, like giant monolithic effigies to the bustling industrial feel of the town in the late 70’s and early 80’s.  ‘Just a Boy’s Game’ burst onto our TV screens in 1979.  It starred a gravel voiced Frankie Miller as Jake McQuillen, grandson of Greenock hardest man (Hector Nicol), who is losing his last fight for life.  The movies and plays through the years meshed folklore with real life to create characters still remembered today. 

An everlasting movie scene in my head is the wee shipyard worker who thought he was a gunfighter, pretending to shoot his colleague against a backdrop of the spectacular Greenock Sugarsheds and blowing the imaginary smoke away from his fingers before holstering.  Its just one of many scenes shot against the fine backdrop of Greenock’s industrial past.  The movie ‘Down Where the Buffalo Go’ (1988) was written by Greenock’s own Peter McDougall and starred the Hollywood ‘Pulp Fiction’ star Harvey Keitel as a US Navy Shore Patrol Officer stationed at the Holy Loch.  The Wild West of Scotland twinned with the Wild West of the US in gunslinger style is not an unusual likening.  

Elephants Graveyard – another Peter McDougall masterpiece - stars Billy Connolly as Jody, out of work and wandering the hills behind Greenock where he meets Bunny, who is pretending to his wife he’s a postman and is wandering the same hills aimlessly.  Jody’s happy-go-lucky philosophy against a backdrop of hopelessness runs through this Play for Today, and as always, in the background are the Sugarsheds and the all too familiar cranes.

Each movie and play shot through with negative and positive. Words like, gritty can be replaced by stoic; drama and struggle by real-life; with added touches of warmth and plenty of humour. Coming back into the present, I remember the screening of Sweet Sixteen in London.  I caught sight of my mother’s house on the big screen in a scene involving the Battery Park.  I leapt up and announced to amused cinemagoers “there’s my mum’s house!”  before slinking back into my chair like a crazy lady in the back row.  And let’s not forget the lovely, tender Dear Frankie with heartthrob Gerard Butler as the romantic lead.  You are in no doubt that the prime location is Greenock, with some exterior and interior shots in Glasgow.

No question that Inverclyde can offer a spectacular backdrop and that the Sugarsheds have played their part in movie history!  Are we ready to expand on that movie heritage?

You can find Joanie on facebook and twitter, or follow her blog right here.

Folk have sent us a few links and clips featuring the docks and The Sheds. We'll put them all up on the blog next week, if you've any you would like to share, or if you fancy a bit of guest blogging, drop us a line

Meantime...quite frankly any excuse for a wee clip of Elephants Graveyard...

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