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TF 13 - 'A Practical Guide to a Spectacular Suicide' - Evening Times Article

Glasgow film director up for award

Original link and words here - Copied text below. (c) Paul Greenwood:

GLASGOW film director Graham Hughes has some words of advice for young aspiring movie makers.

"Just do it," he says.

"There are no excuses and there's nothing stopping you. Films can be made for nothing."

And Graham should know, having shot his first film, The Big Slick, for the grand sum of £200.

Now his second feature, A Practical Guide To A Spectacular Suicide, has not only been accepted into the Edinburgh International Film Festival, where it will screen next week, but is competing for the prestigious Michael Powell Award for Best British Feature.

Though he knows it's a cliché, Graham says it's an honour just being nominated.

"Disbelief was our initial reaction, but it's a validation for the film, especially as it's a Scottish festival," he says.

"It legitimises me and our crew and I hope it elevates us to professionals rather than just people making films with our friends, doing it for fun."

The film has already played at festivals in the US and Bulgaria, so Graham isn't really feeling any nerves.

The 25-year-old grew up in Kirkintilloch and attended Stirling University, where he studied film and media, which he says gave him an appreciation of the theory of filmmaking, but didn't have much of a practical side.

He cites his love of movies to all the time he spent watching videos with his grandad when he was a young boy, mostly the classic action films of Schwarzenegger and Stallone.

"We'd sooner watch Total Recall than Bambi," he says.

12 Angry Men is his favourite film, but it was the first time he saw The Usual Suspects when he was a teenager that Graham realised he wanted to make films.

"It's the biggest reaction I've ever had to a film and I wanted to make people feel that way," he adds.

"So I got my hands on a little mini DV camera and made a bunch of home movies, just getting friends and family involved.

"My mum has been in pretty much every film I've made.

"The first thing I ever made was when we were on a skiing holiday and I just shot a bunch of stuff and edited it into a music video when we got back."

From there he continued to make numerous short films, the first being a monster movie with his cousin, but Graham realises they weren't going to win any Oscars.

"I watched a few recently and they're pretty cringeworthy, but it's a learning experience," he says.

"It's good to make your mistakes in that quiet sort of way where no-one really sees them."

A Practical Guide To A Spectacular Suicide was co-written by Graham and his friends Keith Grantham and Graeme McGeagh.

They've worked together on many of the short films Graham has directed, as well as on The Big Slick, for which the trio picked up a writing prize at the BAFTA Scotland New Talent Awards.

Graeme also stars in Practical Guide as Tom, a young man who has tried to kill himself several times and who enters into therapy sessions even while planning his next attempt.

But were they worried about making a comedy about such a dark subject matter?

"We did tiptoe a little because of the subject, but we're kind of set in our comedy ways. And most people have been accepting of it," says Graham.

The film cost just £3000, which was raised by a crowd-funding initiative, and Graham believes asking people for money was justified because they'd proved with The Big Slick that they could make a feature.

"It was a lovely show of faith from everyone who donated," he adds.

"The first film was almost like an experiment to see if we could do it, and we knew we could do Practical Guide for nothing too, but it wouldn't have been half the film that we now have.

"The money gave us more freedom and lifted the production values in little ways across the board."

Filming took the tiny cast and crew to locations around Glasgow, as well as further afield to Stirling and down to Ayrshire for the beach scenes.

Graham believes that one of the advantages of having almost no money is that you can't have long shoots, so he took a week off work at his day job as a video editor and shot the film in only nine days.

Graham, Keith and Graeme are currently working on a script for a murder mystery comedy called Murder The Movie, for which they're hoping to secure financing.

But whatever it ends up costing, rest assured they'll get it made.

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