Whatever Gets You Through The Night – The Film
The moving picture element of the Whatever Gets You Through The Night collaboration was born out of necessity. “Because there are so many musicians, there’s like ten or eleven songs being made, ten or eleven pieces of writing, it was becoming quite a monster to tour,” says Daniel Warren, the filmmaker tasked with documenting Bissett and co.’s mammoth multi-disciplinary arts project. “So the idea that they came up with was to make a film and at each screening there could be a few performances from some of the musicians involved or maybe some of the actors – much more manageable.”
With such a wide range of artists, where did he begin? “I kind of worried that making a film with some of the more dramatic elements might turn into a bad Play for Today – something that’s been written for the stage doesn’t necessarily translate to the screen – so I decided to focus on the musicians.” Rather than a straightforward documentary, the film will follow a similar nighttime narrative to the stage production, and riff on the nocturnal atmosphere and rhythms within the music.
Scenes already filmed include one that pulls back the curtain on Eugene Kelly's creative process, which shows him at the Green Door Studio writing and recording a vocal that, according to Kelly, “sounds like a rainbow doing a shit,” and a short film with Wounded Knee hanging out on the banks of Loch Lomond and performing his song that was inspired by that same bonnie body of water. The section featuring Withered Hand, meanwhile, takes the form of that quintessential cinematic genre: the road movie. “We wanted to get out of the Central Belt, so we drove to Orkney and he played a gig up there, and on the way up I recorded him in different locations to sort of see what Scotland was like during the nighttime. It’s interesting how playing in a location or a landscape that was unfamiliar seemed to changed the song and performance.”
The filming process also gave some of the artists a chance to recreate the narratives that their respective songs represent. Bigg Taj and Wounded Knee (again), for example, performed their collaboration in front of a crowd of half-cut ravers at the Bongo Club. “It’s meant to be a club scene in the play, but they hadn’t performed it in a nightclub so it was just a case of trying to recreate that situation to see how it played out.”
Warren is currently in the process of filming the final performers and editing the footage he’s already amassed but he says “a definite structure’s beginning to form and some of the performances are knitting together nicely.” The complete film will premiere 23 August at Summerhall.