Sunday, April 25, 2010

In the Shadow of Greatness

Not long ago, William McIlvanney--the so-called Godfather of Tartan Noir, best known for his 1977 series debut, Laidlaw--took on a new challenge, making his acting debut in a music video. As Scotland on Sunday explained, the 73-year-old author and poet “plays a ghost in the music video, which was shot yesterday, to accompany the song ‘My Father’s Coat’ by James Grant, formerly of the band Love and Money.” According to the newspaper,
The short film sees a young man visit the grave of his father, with whom he had a difficult relationship. Later, he falls asleep in his dingy flat only to be awakened by his father [McIlvanney], who is standing behind the sofa in his best suit and tie.

Now unable to sleep, the son grabs some money and wanders into the city streets. At the Barras market he stops and stares at a coat he recognises as belonging to his father. Standing in the market and reflected in a mirror, his father watches over his son once again. The ghost later reappears in an old-fashioned pub, wearing the coat and reading the Racing Post.

The video’s director, Peter Martin, said: “It is about how you turn into your dad in your middle age. The song is nine minutes long with a four-and-a-half-minute guitar solo and is unusually Scottish in tone.”
To play the part of McIlvanney’s son in this video, Martin hired another Scottish crime writer, Tony Black (Loss). Afterward, Black wrote us to say that McIlvanney “is possibly the most unassuming star I’ve ever met, a true gentleman and top bloke, I loved him to bits.” He also sent along a few photos taken during the filming.

Left to right: Director Martin with McIlvanney and Black

Black (far left) and singer Grant (far right) prepare for a scene

Black notes that this video “was shot on location in Glasgow, in a variety of spots including a burlesque club and the Necropolis!” And he adds: “It was a real blast for me to meet McIlvanney ... Laidlaw is one of my all-time favorite novels and quite possibly the greatest crime novel ever to come out of Scotland. McIlvanney was ... hilariously funny and great company the whole time. I spent the entire two days of the shoot sitting open-mouthed listening to his insights on writing-the craft and the business. He’s an incredibly bright bloke. He looks like a matinée idol as well, so there was no shortage of people coming up to him off the street and saying hello to the star!”

It sounds like a good time had by all.

UPDATE: A cut of that music video can now be seen below.

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