Week three and I'm in Edinburgh. I get around a bit, for an unemployed person. Being Welsh, and from Cardiff, I am deeply envious of the Scots for having Edinburgh as their capital city. You come out of Waverley Station and it hits you, in a wave of cold Scottish air: that vista, the castle, the granite, the architecture, climbing up the hill like one of those landscapes in a Renaissance painting. A city of such dramatic beauty. One of the most beautiful in Europe, I think. And the pubs are open all night. I suppose it's only fair that they have bagpipes.
"IT HAS PERSONALITY AND PANACHE"
I am here for the 58th Edinburgh Film Festival - the oldest continuous festival in Europe, as I am informed by a proud Scotsman. Actually, the Venice Film Festival is older (started by Mussolini!) and so is Cannes, but Edinburgh is the oldest one that's uninterrupted. Frankly, the historical details don't matter because for me, begrudging Welshman though I am, the Edinburgh Film Fest is the best. It manages to be both friendly and exciting at the same time, it feels Scottish, British and International. It has personality and panache... enough praise already? I think so. I suppose it's only fair that they have bagpipes.
I first came to the Edinburgh Film Festival, with a film, in 1997 I think. House Of America is a bleak/funny melodrama set in the South Wales Valleys. It was shot by the French cinematographer Pierre Aim, who also shot La Haine (pictured), which has just been re-released (go and see it, it's brilliant). We had a great time. Then came My Little Eye in 2002. We had an even better time. Now I am here with Trauma and Colin Firth has come too. And so has Tommy Flanagan, who plays his best friend in the film. Mr Darcy and the Flying Scotsman - international star and local hero. What will it be like?
Well, the fact that Colin has come changes everything. The screening sold out weeks ago, women swoon, girls giggle, bulbs flash. There is a red carpet, there are television interviews, all that kind of stuff. And I have to stand next to these two impressive specimens: Colin with his tall, upright English poise, and Tommy with his equally tall, Scottish street cred. And me. Feeling shorter, wider, older, Welsher. But if I'm honest, it's all a bit exciting.
There's an atmosphere of celebration, expectation, goodwill towards our film. As my last diary entry suggested, I have spent a lot of time worrying about what our film is NOT. Worrying that it's NOT 'genre' enough. NOT commercial enough. NOT... good enough. But bringing the film to a festival is an opportunity to show it to an adventurous, enthusiastic audience. And the fact that the cinema is full before the lights go down makes the viewing experience all the more intense. Theoretically. FADE TO (ALMOST) BLACK.
"IT IS A THOROUGHLY HUMILIATING EXPERIENCE"
With the glitz and the excitement over, it is suddenly lonely in the dark. I spend half the time not looking at the screen at all but watching the audience as they watch the film, interpreting every cough, rustle and change of body position as a sign of disapproval or disdain. Never has the shift of an itchy arse had so much significance! God forbid that somebody should shuffle apologetically along the row and then speed up the aisle towards the exit. TENSION REIGNS. If they reappear it signifies a weak bladder. If they don't, then what? All those bad 'D' words. Disapproval. Disdain. Disappointment. Disillusionment. Derision.
On the rare occasion that my eyes actually stray onto the screen, what do I see? A film? OH NO! What I see is a series of shots, disconnected, meaningless and false. Reminding me of bad decisions made in the cutting room, mistakes made during shooting. So much for suspension of disbelief. It is a thoroughly humiliating, demoralising experience. Who could possibly have made this heap of utter garbage unfolding before my eyes (surely not me!). Why haven't more people left the cinema, under the slim pretext of a weak bladder? The darkness is unbearable.
So I take the weak bladder option myself, sneaking out into the carpeted neon purgatory of the foyer and then into the bar, for a steadying drink, for contemplation in solitude about whether in fact I have chosen the right career. I arrive, head bowed, then look up to see... a collection of similarly lost souls. The producers, the actors, everyone in fact who was involved in the film. All similarly perplexed by the viewing experience! All similarily reassessing their careers! All clutching a drink.
So we drink, like sullen truants, until finally we are summoned back to the arena of pain for a Q&A with the baying audience. Actually they are applauding politely as we enter, but that's a front. Colin (tall, elegant) and me (even shorter now due to bad posture) on stage, facing the impressively eloquent Mark Kermode (see last week's diary). We are sitting on stools like an aged boy band, clutching microphones. People are staring. Surely I am in some kind of anxiety dream. Or horror film. How did I get here? I don't know. Through a haze of self-doubt there's a vaguely audible question. It's aimed at me: "So, Marc, what made you want to make this film?" A good question. A bloody good question. What indeed. SILENCE. FADE TO BLACK. THE SOUND OF BAGPIPES.
To find out Marc's detailed thoughts on Trauma, read our interview. He also talks about filmmaking and his movie love/hates in Shooting People. Trauma is released in UK cinemas on Friday 17th September 2004.