Martin Smith conceived and directed 'MY CITY : EDINBURGH' for Channel 4 produced through Sugar Tree Productions. The series of four documentary films were shot on Super 8 and feature Garbage lead singer Shirley Manson, the boxer Alex Arthur, the artist John Bellany and 10-year-old Sophie Watson from North Edinburgh Arts Youth Drama Group.
The films were described as 'a bold and innovative collection' by The Sunday Times which selected them as their film of the week. The films saw their subjects reflect on the impact that Scotland’s capital city has had on their collective lives and work. For the purposes of the filming, some of the subjects went to remarkable lengths to take part. John Bellany flew in especially for the shoot from Italy and Shirley Manson freed up time from her Garbage recording schedule and returned to her native city from Madison, Wisconsin. Alex Arthur’s commitment proved to be even more physically taxing as the production required him to run across the entire length of the city despite recent knee surgery. Director Martin Smith states: “I was excited to work with such a stellar cast but was dead set against the idea of doing a regular ‘talking heads’ documentary. I didn’t want to go down the route of filming what was expected.
"We chose to work with Super 8 because it has a certain timeless quality that suited our films. Having said that we pushed the limits [and flaws] of the format as much as possible as it was important to us to use what is perceived as a somewhat old fashioned format in a contemporary way. "Every film is crafted individually around each subject. John’s film takes him to Port Seton where he was brought up and back to the fish-filleters where he worked whilst at art school in Edinburgh. The images in the film have a lot of harmonies with his own work. Alex undertakes his own physical and metaphorical journey across the city. Shirley was involved in every stage of her film – she was very hands-on and pushed me to develop a film far stronger than my initial idea. While Sophie is the only non-celebrity involved, I wanted to include her and the North Edinburgh Arts Group because they represent Edinburgh’s future.”