Buried Treasure: Ed Perkins on Garnet's Gold

EIFF has a strong history of documentary film programming. Garnet's Gold, Ed Perkins’ lyrical and melancholic film following middle-aged dreamer Garnet Frost and his search for lost treasure, is a 24-carat example. Director Perkins tells us more

Feature by Jamie Dunn | 03 Jun 2014
  • Garnet's Gold

“I first met Garnet four years ago. At the time I was searching for stories to turn in to feature documentary films – it takes quite an amazing story to warrant 75 minutes of anyone’s time. One of my colleagues told me he’d just been in a pub in London the previous day and there’d been an eccentric and rather extraordinary man who was singing at a piano one minute, the next he was regaling his friends with tales of lost gold and how he knew where it is and that he wanted to go up to Scotland to find it. As a documentary filmmaker, that’s sort of hidden gold in itself. I thought, ‘I have to go and meet this guy.’

“The next week I turned up at Garnet’s front door with a film crew behind me. Every week or every month for the next four years we would get together and talk and film, and slowly the film came to be made I guess. 

“For a long period of those four years I had absolutely no idea what the film was going to be about. But when I met Garnet I was immediately drawn into his world. As you hopefully see in the film, it’s a very enigmatic, evocative world full of many colourful characters – Garnet’s mother is obviously extraordinary in her own right. I kind of just became obsessed with Garnet’s plans for flying machines and the coffee-stained maps that were all over his house, and I got drawn into his story and became addicted to trying to tell it in the best way possible.

“Often our heroes in movies are ordinary people who go on extraordinary journeys: they’re thrown out of their somewhat ordinary life and go on an exciting adventure. What I thought was interesting about Garnet is that actually here’s a guy who is an extraordinary person but who has lived a somewhat ordinary life. So he was the inverse of what you would normally find in Hollywood, and I thought that was really interesting: here’s a guy who never fulfilled his potential.

“Yes he’s eccentric and wonderful, he has all this romance and lyricism in his world, so of course he’s an inspiration for you as a filmmaker, but the themes that come out of his story are very universal and very easy for us to empathise with. Who hasn’t at some point looked back on their own life and wondered whether they’ve made the most of it? I think it’s a very core human question.”

EIFF runs 18-29 Jun

Garnet's Gold screens 25 Jun, Cineworld, 8.25pm and 28 Jun, Odeon, 1.30pm, £5. Ed Perkins and Garnet Frost will be in town to present the film

Garnet's Gold is nominated for Best Documentary Feature Film at EIFF 2014

As told to Jamie Dunn