Documenting Grierson

Born the son of a headmaster in Cambusbarron, near Stirling, John Grierson directed one of the first documentaries, Drifters, set up the influential GPO Film Unit making Night Mail, and went on to be the first director of The National Film Board of Canada.

The annual awards for best documentary are made in his name. He set out to make films to change the world, and made not just films, but filmmakers.

Scottish Country Dancing: Controlled Abandon


Celebrating 90 years of The Royal Scottish Country Dance Society. At weddings, Hogmanay, a local ceilidh, or formal dinner dances Scottish Country Dancing can be an art form with the precision and nuance of ballet, or just a great big glorious hooley. Following dancers at the International Summer School in St Andrews then back home to Munich and Tokyo this warm and heartfelt documentary looks at this global phenomenon. Includes detailed dance instruction and rare archive for newcomers and aficionados alike.

Director Joseph Briffa 

Producer John Archer

Dream Me Up Scotty

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Alex Norton goes on a Scottish accent safari hunting for the good the bad and the totally bowfing of mock jock acting. For over 100 years audiences have struggled to understand our braw brogue: silent Harry Lauder films attempted an accent in the captions, and in Hollywood’s golden era , everyone wanted to paint their tonsils tartan– but as examples from Katharine Hepburn, Orson Welles and Richard Chamberlain show, they couldnae. Then Disney made Brave and proved that it disnae have to be all bad.

Director John MacLaverty

Producer John Archer

Alasdair Gray: A Life in Progress


Kevin Cameron has spent well over a decade with Glasgow’s best-known artist – and has produced a remarkable profile of him at work on some of his best-known murals in the city, as well as tracing his hugely varied career from his days studying at art school.

It is no exaggeration to say it could completely redefine how Gray is perceived as he prepares to turn 80 next year. - The Scotsman, 13 October 2013

Cameron’s film places Gray within the context of a world in which he is renowned, but also explores the reality of his life in the city that provides his greatest inspiration. - The Skinny, February 2013

For more information, have a look at A Life in Progress website.

Iboga Nights

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David Graham Scott returns to the drug that saved his life- is ibogaine really a wonder drug?

Ibogaine is an extract from a plant root that hails from Africa. A burgeoning movement in the west has promoted iboga as a quick fix route to painless withdrawal for drug addicts. David successfully treated his own methadone addiction ten years ago, and now he wants to find out how effective the treatment is for others. 

In a Dutch suburb several addicts embark on the long night of psychedelic detox under the watchful eye of an experienced iboga practitioner. One client collapses and ends up on a life-support, the provider is jailed and David starts to question the safety of iboga treatment. 

David follows several addicts, gaining a personal understanding of their world and how their lives hang in the balance. Will iboga work its miracles?

Directed by David Graham Scott

Produced by John Archer

For more details see the Iboga Nights website here

Watching Ourselves series 2


Our second series of Watching Ourselves returns with Greg Hemphill at the helm to celebrate more gems from the past 60 years of television in Scotland.

In a four part series, we examine how Hogmanay shows have, for better or worse, defined our culture at this very Scottish time of year. We revisit the heyday of the Scottish swashbuckler, a genre ruled by swordfights and skullduggery and talk to some of its dashing heroes.  Over the years producers and directors have made ground-breaking programmes capturing the artist at work, no mean feat when you're dealing with some of the nation's most challenging talents. And finally there's the weird and the wonderful ways in which television has celebrated the life and works of our most cherished national hero, Robert Burns. From the kitsch to the clever, the far-out to the fabled, Burns has been a staple of Scottish television since the formative years.

Featuring interviews with Michael Gambon, John Cairney, Billy Connolly, Eileen McCallum, Mary Marquis, Janis Forsyth, Iain Glen, Andrew O'Hagan, Alex Norton, Brian Cox and more!

Boccia Brothers

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With the countdown to the London Paralympic Games well under way, this documentary tells the inspiring story of a bid by two brothers from Lanarkshire to be chosen for the once-in-a-lifetime event. Narrated by Billy Connolly, Boccia Brothers follows Peter and Stephen McGuire from Hamilton in the lead up to the selection process for the Games.

Their discipline is Boccia, a sport similar to French boules and which is believed to have ancient Greek origins. The programme picks up the story with the McGuire brothers riding high in the sport's rankings.

Stephen and Peter have an undiagnosed form of Muscular Dystrophy. Their lives have been burdened with their fair share of heartbreak and misfortune, yet they are inspiring and funny throughout. As well as being skilled practitioners of their sport, they are engaging and amusing characters during the journey.

The story of their quest for selection goes from the Scottish Championships to the International Championships in Portugal and on to the crunch date when the contenders find out if they have made a final cut.

Directed by Martin Clark and Cara Connolly

The School of Scottish Studies

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The School of Scottish Studies was founded as a part of the University of Edinburgh in 1951 to collect, archive, research and discover everyday life in Scotland; its culture, and lively arts traditions.

Taking their cue from pioneering American folklorist Alan Lomax, and the mid-century Mass Observation movement, the school’s researchers work in the field recording audio and moving image with people across the  length and breadth of Scotland.

As the school celebrates its diamond anniversary, this documentary looks back at this vast and astonishing range of materials, which tell us as much about the time they were made in as about the lives they were seeking to capture. We look to the present and future, as we meet some current researchers as they continue the work. 

Directed by Joseph Briffa

Produced by John Archer

Broadcast on 30th November 2011, BBC Scotland

The Story of Film: An Odyssey


An epic 15 hour film about the history of innovation in the movies. Made over six years on four continents, covering eleven decades and a thousand films.

Epic... a global vision of cinema. Ian Christie, Sight and Sound

Audacious... a treat for movie lovers. Toronto Film Festival

A brilliant and monumental achievement. Roger Graef

A landmark in thinking and talking about cinema. Jonathan Coe

The Story of Film shows that innovation is at the heart of movie history. This series is about the pioneers, the people who really loved film, brought it alive and used it in new ways. The questions it asks are: who, at any time, were the most dynamic filmmakers on the planet? What sort of films were they making? How did they drive movies forward? Each section of the story is filmed in a different country, an atmospheric reminder that movies are about the real world.

Movies can't change the world or feed a nation but for over a century now people have flocked to films, to see their dreams, their fears, their sexuality and that of others on screen. The movies at the heart of this story have helped shape how we feel, love, look and hope.

Based on the internationally acclaimed best-seller The Story of Film by Mark Cousins

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Written and directed by Mark Cousins

Producer: John Archer