Hi, Daniel Blake – star shines for Mid Argyll short film

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Strange activity around a Lochgilphead pub?

Not entirely unheard of, but this time the ‘Comm’ was the centre of shooting on Monday November 4 for a new short film with roots in Mid Argyll.

Starring Dave Johns, best known for his starring role in the highly acclaimed 2016 film ‘I, Daniel Blake’ alongside Robert Goodman (Gangs of New York) and Lewis Gribben (T2 Trainspotting), the film is loosely based on the younger life of Tayvallich resident Dr Gordon MacMillan.

The film, by Edinburgh-based production company Campfire Agency, has the title ‘The Iain Banks Appreciation Society’ and begins with winkle picking on the Isle of Jura leading to all kinds of wild and wonderful adventures.

Writer of the screenplay Will Edwards – who works as a chef to earn a crust – explained how it all came about: ‘Myself and [the film’s director] Charlie Rose had just finished a job we were working on and were in a pub in London. We met this guy from Scotland who began telling us these tales from his early 20s of picking winkles on Jura, and all the things he experienced at that time.’

The Scot in question was Dr MacMillan and the story took on a life of its own after that point.

After the success of I, Daniel Blake, Dave Johns has been working non-stop, but had a two-day window when he could head for Mid Argyll to shoot scenes for director Charlie.

‘I first met Charlie at a film festival in the Bahamas,’ Dave explained. ‘He’s a young director and a very good one, so I wanted to come along and do what I could to help him with this film.’

The crew based themselves in the village of Ford while filming and used locations including Ford, Crinan and the Comm in Lochgilphead.

Charlie explained: ‘This short film will be something that will be screened at festivals, certainly initially.’

Clearly enjoying himself, despite the autumn chill and light drizzle, he added: ‘Argyll is the most beautiful location. It’s not easy, and there are challenges which include the weather, but it is well worth it.’

Sixty-three-year-old Newcastle actor and stand-up comic Dave Johns hasn’t looked back since playing Daniel Blake.

He has just finished shooting a film ’23 Walks’ with Alison Steadman, due for release in 2020, has been filming a new version of ‘Blithe Sprit’ and is working on a sitcom.

He, too, was having fun as he stood outside the Comm. Speaking to the Advertiser between scenes, he joked: ‘Not even a crew member to hold a brolly over me head. This wouldn’t happen in Hollywood.’