The Daily Record has a piece on Tartan Feature 9 ' TF9 'Con Men'
HE MADE his name exposing conmen and taking in audiences and now magician, TV presenter and all-round master of illusion R Paul Wilson has set his sights on the big screen.
The Scots star of smash-hit series The Real Hustle has just finished his first feature film, shot in and around his home town of Glasgow earlier this year for just over £3000.
Con Men, starring Ae Fond Kiss actor Atta Yaqub, is a mystery thriller about two hustlers on the take and is Wilson’s first attempt at making a full length feature.
After being an adviser on Hollywood productions for many years, the 46-year-old Scot decided to get behind the camera himself after anti-con show The Real Hustle finished three years ago.
He made a series of short films and when one of them became a YouTube sensation with more than 700,000 hits, he de cided it was time to make a full length movie.
Teaming up with experienced independent film-makers and up-and-coming actors, he shot the film in just 12 days.
He then edited it himself while performing as a magician on a cruise ship and plans to launch the movie with a celebrity premiere later this year.
The Real Hustle stars: Jessica Jane Clement, Alexis Conran, Jazz Lincott, Polly Partsons and Paul Wilson
And he also hopes the film can be the launching pad for a movie career as successful as his magic work.
He said: “My grandfather used to teach me card tricks, such as always knowing which card was bottom of the pack, and I loved that. I grew up with the fascination of illusion.
“I’ve always loved magic and I wanted to work in the movies but making film didn’t seem like an option – when I was younger it would have sounded like saying you wanted to be an astronaut.
“It all works together. Misdirection and magic, movies and directing.
“When I was 16, I wanted to go to film school but there wasn’t a film school accessible to me in Scotland. In my early 30s, I worked on a film called Shade as a consultant and became the second unit director.
“Then The Real Hustle came along and was a massive success, so seven years later when it came to an end it felt like the right time to do
Having enjoyed stage success as a magician Paul created a con artist show in the States called Takedown. He also worked as an adviser on films such as Smokin’ Aces, teaching Mr Selfridge star Jeremy Piven how to be a stage performer.
Tom Moriarty in Paul Wilson's Conment (Photo: Natasha Di Pasquale/Robert McFadzean)
Best known for creating and starring in The Real Hustle, Paul, who is married with two teenage sons, has also published books and completed work on a feature documentary about magicians’ stage secrets.
But making movies has always been his passion and earlier this year, he jumped in with both feet.
Paul said: “I decided that instead of waiting for permission to do it, why not just make it happen?
“I made a couple of very small shorts, got a hold of the right equipment, then made another short film, called The Magic Box, which got an amazing response. I put it on YouTube and it had 700,000 views and won a bunch of awards.
“Then I was introduced to Stuart Cadenhead and Lauren Lamarr, great producers who had worked on a short film with a friend, and we hit it off.
“These guys shared the same passion and one day I was in a shop about to buy a camera and I realised I could make a whole movie for the money I was going to spend.
“I told the team and I had an idea for a story I could write in seven days. They looked at me like I was crazy but I wanted to prove it was possible.
“After a week I handed Lauren and Stuart the script and two days later everybody came back and said, ‘Let’s do it.’”
Weeks later cameras started rolling on Con Men, a thriller about two drifters who may or may not be conning each other.
He managed to get Atta Yaqub, star of Ken Loach’s hit movie Ae Fond Kiss, on board as well and up-and-coming actors Paul Comrie and Tom Moriarty took the leading roles.
He also recruited charity fundraiser and Celtic WAG Lisa Hague, who has a small part as a club hostess.
Paul said: “As soon as Stuart mentioned Atta, I thought we’d never get him. But he really wanted to do it and loved the script and the part for him.
“With Lisa, I was speaking to a friend, actor Gianni Capaldi, and he suggested her for the part.
“She was amazing. She looks great, sounded perfect and her acting was really good.”
Lisa Hague in Paul Wilson's movie
Paul added: “With stuff like the Real Hustle being so popular, I know there is an interest in the genre.
“As an expert in the field, a lot of con movies annoy me because they are cheating about cheating.
“We wanted to make a strong film that could be sold, distributed and enjoyed several times.
“Once you know how it ends, you want to go back and look at it differently.
“Everyone gave their time because they believed in the project and we all worked together to get 12 hours of shooting in a day.
“When it was done, I took an engagement on a cruise ship doing magic and card tricks so I could edit the film. I was away for four weeks cruising through the Panama canal.
Atta Yaqub in Conmen (Photo: Natasha Di Pasquale/Robert McFadzean)
“I took all my equipment with me and 10 days after I got back, I was showing the crew a first cut.”
Paul hopes to get the film premiered and distributed later this year and has several other projects in the pipeline, including using his stage magic skills to cut back on CGI.
He said: “I want to make a film that has supernatural elements but without digital effects, so you have to do everything with practical effects.
“That’s possible because I design illusions and work with illusionists, and I can do that kind of thing on stage with a live audience so if I have a camera and the ability to cut and edit.
“It will be a challenge but could be very successful.”
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