Scottish film director Jim Burns has made his debut film. ‘Serious Drugs – Duglas and the Music of BMX Bandits’, out of his love for music.

He wanted to get inside the head of the BMX Bandits, the band that changed his life, and its main member and front man Duglas T. Stewart.

‘Serious Drugs’ tells the story of indie pop band BMX Bandits’ history from forming in Glasgow in 1985 and signing shortly afterwards to 53rd & 3rd Records until now. Its members past and present have included Norman Blake, Finlay MacDonald and Francis MacDonald from Teenage Fanclub; Eugene Kelly from the Vaselines; David Kelly from the Pearlfishers and Sean Dickson from the Soup Dragons.

Pennyblackmusic met up with Jim Burns at the Leicester Indiepop All-Dayer festival in late March, at which ‘Serious Drugs’ was being shown.


PB: How long ago did you first start working on this film?

JB:It was about five years ago now.

PB: This is your first film as a director, isn’t it?

JB: It is my first film. I had made a few videos as well before then.

PB: Who were those with?

JB: I made some videos for BMX Bandits, the Trashcan Sinatras and Jonny, which is the side project of Norman Blake from Teenage Fanclub. It was just bands around Glasgow that I like. It was nothing commercial, nothing that got used as a promo. It was just me as a hobbyist.

I heard some BMX Bandits music when I was feeling really depressed, and it moved me in a way that nothing else did at the time. I wanted to learn what was behind it, what is behind being in BMX Bandits, and why this music is so moving and special, and at some point I realised to do this properly I had to sink into the world of the BMX Bandits’ music, and it dawned on me to make a film.

I didn't know what direction it would take me in, or how long it would be. I just started to record stuff, so that's how it came about. Last year I was on holiday, and I thought, “I have to finish the film,” and then it became a full-on film, a post-production project. The end crept up on me when I wasn't expecting it.

I never set out to make a music documentary or any other type of film. I just used it as a vehicle to find out what it meant to be a BMX Bandit, and what it feels like to be in a band like that, that has lasted 25 years, and made some fantastic music.

Duglas also led a different lifestyle to mine at the time, I work for a software engineering company, and it involved a lot of responsibility. We had investors. It was a very cut throat business, and Duglas lived in this world as an artist and I wanted to learn from that as well. It was a complete contrast from what I was doing.

PB: You are showing the film at festivals at the moment. Now you have done one film, would you like to make more films?

JB: I think it would be a shame to lose the experience and the skill, and to let it go to waste, I'm not looking for something in a hurry, and I'm not desperate to find the next project. It would be nice to make another film though. Duglas and I were talking about it on the way down here in the car about an idea I have for one, but it has to be something that moves me.

I am not going to give up my software engineering job to make films, but it would be something I could do at the same time as it and which I could feel passionate about. There will be something else, but I am not sure what it will be yet.

PB: Will you be attending any more premieres after tonight?

JB: The European premiere is on April 15th in Madrid, and Duglas and I are travelling out there for the screening. It is in a beautiful cinema in Madrid, and we are doing a questions and answers session afterwards, and I am currently working on a Spanish transcript with Spanish subtitles for the local audience.

PB: Will you be doing a DVD release of it? Have you a release date for it yet?

JB: There is a DVD release being planned at the moment. There is still a bit of work to be done on it on the music clearance side, because there are thirty five songs in it. Some are by others. There is a Soup Dragons song, and a Teenage Fanclub song, and a Jonathan King number that Duglas does a cover of, and these have to be dealt with by the publishing companies, but it's going to happen this year.

There is also a whole load of extras. I have got some live stuff, but have to make sure that is still viewable. We picked the best bits for the film. I'm sure it will be fine though.

PB: Is there anything else you would like to add?

JB: It's been a great journey. I thought when a film is done that would be it, the end of it, It's not. It's been great but I still don't know what it means to be a BMX Bandit, The film helps to explain what I could find out and what it means. I think it explains it quite well what I learnt about the BMX Bandits while making it. It's about how they formed and that world, and it's about Duglas's life, and some people have been surprised at the turn that the film takes, but they have come up to me and said that they have still enjoyed it.

PB: Thank you.







Related Links:


http://bmxbandits.net/
https://elefantrecords.bandcamp.com/album/bmx-bandits-in-space
https://twitter.com/DuglasTStewart


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