We spoke to a film director at the Glasgow Film Festival

First time Director, Paul Morris, discusses inspirations for his feature film debut 

Hamilton-born filmmaker Paul Morris has spent the last three years working on his debut feature Angry Young Men, a micro-budget indie flick that is set to premiere at this month’s Glasgow Film Festival. The 84-minute ‘scheme epic’ follows a group of youths who form a gang to circumvent the dullness of living in the barren town of Mauchton. When a rival gang appears in the fictional town, war ensues to determine who will prosper. 

Inspired by Morris’ youth, the coming-of-age satire aims to showcase the harsh realities of growing up in the Scottish housing system. The 29-year-old says that the idea ‘originally came from hanging about various schemes in Hamilton, growing up and thinking of how unique the layout was and all the potential stories that could be made, using the emotions from what we saw growing up (gang fights, drinking, tribal young teams).’ 

Various aspects of the film directly echo Morris’ background growing up in Hamilton. From the collaborative effort of his childhood friends ‘who can all act and all share a similar sense of humour and belief in the film’s screenplay’, to the familiar locations that ‘were unique and fitting with the tone of the film.’ Morris notes that the cast are comprised of childhood friends and young, talented newcomers.

A still from ‘Angry Young Men’

The semi-autobiographical project acts as a fusion of influences for the first-time director, who thanks his ‘film buff’ Dad for igniting his lifelong love for cinema. Morris recalls, ‘Whenever my brother and I would stay with him, we would all either go to Hamilton Library or Blockbuster and choose a couple films each. Then, when we got home, we would gorge on sweets and watch them all.’ As a fan of Pedro Almodóvar, Christopher Nolan and Peter Jackson, Morris’ love for film was strengthened in his teenage years when he nourished his passion through making sketches with friends on camera phones.

Upon leaving school at 18, Morris’ ambition to become a filmmaker was fully realised. He began to write and produce short films, which were then posted on social media to audience adoration. When given a DSLR camera, Morris says his projects ‘started to grow in ambition’ and ultimately resulted in the production of Angry Young Men, which began filming in early 2018. After finally completing the project in late 2021, the young director wasn’t sure how his feature film would be perceived by audiences due to its niche pacing and accent barriers. Despite this, Morris believes that he and his team achieved ‘something really special’ with Angry Young Men. So, the Angry Young Men team showcased their movie to Glasgow Film Festival organisers for commission. 

Morris says he ‘prayed every night’ that his movie would be accepted for showcase at the festival. Noting the importance of being accepted by GFF’s board, Morris says, ‘these are cinema lovers like me who speak my language in my accent, and if they didn’t think our film was any good, I knew we were in real trouble.’

Ultimately, the young director believes his film was chosen for the festival because organisers ‘understood the passion and effort required to create a movie with no money.’ Describing the ‘magical’ moment when he found out his film would premiere at the festival, Morris states, ‘I was in St Andrews celebrating ten years of being together with my wife when I got the email to say we got in.’ He goes on to describe his inclusion in next month’s event as a ‘dream come true.’ 

Already, Morris is working on his next script, another ‘scheme epic’ called Anyone Can Get It, which aspires to be both ‘poetic’ and ‘ruthless.’ In the meantime, Scotland’s newest young filmmaker hopes his debut can allow audiences to recognise him as ‘a name to trust and look out for moving forward as a filmmaker.’ But above all, he hopes the GFF crowds are ‘moved, entertained, and inspired by the story, style and passion of Angry Young Men.’

Tickets for Glasgow Film festival screenings are on sale now from the GFT Box Office and here

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