Minefield: It’s Game On….

Some people make films about football, some people make films about war – I want to make a film about the possibility of a better world
Baghdad 2009

The last time I filmed Scotty Lee and the Spirit of Soccer on my latest, or rather I should say my temporarily lost current project Minefield was just over 4 years ago on the day after the 2010 world-cup final in Kirkuk, Northern Iraq (a Kurdish-controlled city that’s now under threat from the Daesh) At that point in time and after a journey around the planet which had started in 1995 and filmed in: Bosnia, Kosovo, Moldova/Transdinistria, Cambodia, Baghdad, Kurdistan, Iraq and Jordan, I actually thought that the film might be coming to a close on a football pitch amid the heat, suicide bombings and Sniper threats or Kirkuk, and that we had – if not necessarily a happy Hollywood ending – then at least some kind of closure that would at least keep a TV Commissioning Editor happy. But then film-making – just like real life – doesn’t necessarily have a beginning, middle and an end in that order – especially when you consider the dark and uncertain times that we’re currently living in.

After then spending what was left of 2010 rough-cutting, surviving on a minimum wage and dependent on fee deferrals from one of Scotland’s finest editors: Berny McGurk, an all-too regular regime change at channel 4 decided to ditch their support for a project which they’d previously bigged-up at senior Executive/Controller-levels as being a potential Sundance contender. Instead Minefield was now being dismissed by a career PA-turned cost-cutting True Stories editor as a ‘charity promo’, while her dazed-and-confused geek-commissioner colleague up in Glasgow at the Nations and Regions office pronounced that the film wasn’t ‘frontline enough’ in his (limited) experience. Channel 4’s change of attitude and professional flakiness, along with rule-changes in film-funding guidelines back home in Scotland, also meant Minefield no longer qualified for the public/cultural funding we sought – most of which had been hoovered-up anyhow by a junta/club of minority broadcast interests, ex-film fund Executives-turned Producers and Edinburgh academics who’ve pretty much institutionalized the entire Scottish documentary scene, cut budgets and made it almost impossible for genuinely independent filmmakers or those with diverse visions to compete on the privileged, uneven and artificial pitch they’ve created. But when you also factor in the kind of cultural funding/commissioning bullshit that any half-decent film-makers has to deal with now and the fact that real-life has taken the subject of my film and I on different journeys to places that I at least never expected, then we really didn’t have a film to finish any how – even if we did and still do have a fantastic story to share and – just as importantly – a message to get across to the world.

So now 4 years on from last putting down a worn-out camera in Kirkuk, Northern Iraq – my fourth broken camera on this film in fact – it’s time to pick up our story where we left off. And with my health and fitness returning again after cancer treatment (which I’ve written about elsewhere as: An Invisible Bullet) along with some hard-cash I made from a freelance Ad agency/film plumbing job, but above all with the goodwill, faith and financial support of  Spirit of Soccer  it’s time to finish-off what I started in a shell-shocked Sarajevo bar, back out in the smoke, fire and chaos of the Middle-East. But beyond that and for obvious reasons, I can’t really say too much more about where we’ll be going, but rest assured Minefield will be completed by all-means-necessary even if it doesn’t have a happy ending.

Copenhagen Autumn 2014: Ready to go and be a filmmaker again