Director Let Loose: David Mackenzie

Tennent's lager, tent sex and The Proclaimers accompanied by 85,000 backing singers – all familiar to those who make the annual pilgrimage to Kinross for T in the Park. <b>David Mackenzie</b> brings this experience to the big screen with <i>You Instead</i>

Feature by Jamie Dunn | 14 Sep 2011

David Mackenzie, the award winning director of Hallam Foe and Young Adam, cuts a rather unassuming figure. Meeting him for the first time you might guess he’s in accounting or academia – a geography professor, perhaps. What you don’t expect is a guerilla film-maker knee deep in mud amidst the hedonistic throng of T in the Park. But find him there you would, as last summer he took a crew of eighty to Kinross to film You Instead, a romantic comedy-cum-concert film that’s as energetic and riotous as Scotland’s flagship music festival itself. “I think that’s what makes the film what it is – the festival becomes part of the character of the movie," Mackenzie explains to me in his office within Sigma Films' Film City complex in Govan, Glasgow. "To me, anyway, that’s what I’m most proud of: it really does capture the essence of what it’s like to be at a big music festival.”

How was it shooting a low-budget, independent film with enough extras to make Cecil B. DeMille blush? “In many ways it has the biggest production values I’ve ever had, but because we decided to shoot it entirely on location during the festival it was over very quickly, so we had to cram a lot into our four and a half days filming." Mackenzie confesses, however, that he was nervous about the undertaking: “Initially it seemed completely impossible. To shoot a feature in that time frame seemed completely crazy – it was a lesson in how to do it in a way. That’s what made it so much fun to make: being able to see an opportunity and just take it, to go with the flow and just take advantage of the magic that the environment gave to us.”

This must have been quite a culture shock for a director who’s used to the general inertia around filmmaking – the constant waiting around for blocking, lighting, shot setup etc – particularly as his most recent film, the Ashton Kutcher-starring Spread, was made in Hollywood. “It was invigorating to have that much freedom, to be able to think on my feet that fast and almost to be operating in thinking time as opposed to the usual machinations of filmmaking. There’s just something incredibly jazz about it.”

You Instead had its world premiere at Glasgow Film Festival 2011

You Instead is release nationwide 16 Sep by Icon Film Distribution