Up and coming in Scotland: Martin Smith
ALREADY, at the age of 32, Martin Smith has established himself as an accomplished film-maker whose career to date encompasses music videos, short films and documentaries such as a recent series commissioned by the UK’s Channel 4.
Born in Helensburgh on the west coast of Scotland, Smith always desired to be an artist. Although he found his attempts to enter art college thwarted, it was, as he puts it "a blessing in disguise" since it eventually led him instead to concentrate on what turned out to be his real love – film and film-making in all its different facets. Initially, he took a college course in photography but later was accepted onto a film course at Napier University in the Scottish capital.
Film school provided an excellent working atmosphere where he met an ambitious group of peers - "avid film-makers who really pushed themselves on" - keen on creating quality work as Smith himself. A measure of his dedication to his chosen art was the estimated £10,000 he spent on making various films during his student days, but the end result was a reel of film that gave him a sense of pride and accomplishment.Napier also gave him the opportunity to get his hands on 16mm film equipment. This fired a love of working with film, rather than video, which although offering many benefits, is felt by Smith to detract from the style of shooting that he seeks on his projects. As he himself puts it: "The importance of coming from a background of shooting 16mm or 35mm is that you realise the importance of efficiency and being able to get discipline on shoots and that’s a skill, you know. It's hard but it's a lot easier when you realise you’re burning tenners every time you turn the camera on!"
Smith's directorial CV includes music videos featuring top Scottish bands such as Arab Strap, The Delgados and Toaster. In the television-based film series, Smith conveyed personal perceptions of Edinburgh as seen through the eyes of natives such as Garbage lead singer Shirley Manson and champion boxer Alex Arthur.
His latest effort is to be a feature film tentatively entitled The Black Death. The screenplay has already attracted the interest of Glasgow's Sigma Films and Scottish Screen. As he is a scriptwriter and director, Smith relishes the opportunity to stamp his own personal vision on this project from start to finish. The film’s proposed plot revolves around the lives of a group of young people living in a Scottish fishing town, interlinked with a disaster at sea that befalls a trawler. Smith looks to cast townspeople in his film, their local accents giving a level of authenticity to his story.
Admittedly influenced by - but not setting out to imitate - great directors such as François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Martin Scorsese and John Cassavetes, Smith is clearly interested in producing spontaneous and authentic performances from all concerned for this project.
Madly in love with film and film-making, Smith looks to be set to become an important creative force in Scottish cinema.
• Read more about Martin Smith at: www.martinsmithonline.co.uk