`A drug-fuelled parable based on a dark premise'

Young film-makers get the chance to adapt Irvine Welsh short story

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Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh has described his short story The State of the Party as "a drug-fuelled parable about two young men's descent into a hyper-real urban hell."

Grim perhaps, but a thrilling assignment for the young people who have been tasked with turning it into a film. A group of students from some of Edinburgh's most disadvantaged areas are working with Bafta-winning film-maker Garry Fraser to devise a screenplay and use state-of-the-art equipment to bring it to the big screen.

Students on the Inner City Arts course (which is now in its second year after launching in 2013) will even be able to use a video link-up to consult with Welsh about the gritty story and their plans for adapting it.

Fraser, Edinburgh College's film-maker in residence, told TESS that the course was aimed at students from low-income backgrounds and would offer them access to education and relevant work experience.

Setting up the programme was his way of providing opportunities for young people from backgrounds similar to his own and helping them on the road to success, he added.

Fraser, who won a Bafta in Scotland New Talent Award last year, said: "I hope the course will give them confidence and help them to reach their potential. I left school in P5, so I see potential everywhere."

He added: "For me, getting into film-making was either life or death. If I hadn't discovered it, I wouldn't be where I am today. It was brilliant to see the students develop skills and confidence during last year's course. This year, we will focus more on developing practical skills in film-making and empowering the students."

Fraser contacted Welsh via Twitter after being inspired by his short stories. "The students can relate to Irvine's work because he uses Scots language, showing that screenwriting is within reach of these young people who speak with the same voice and that art isn't just open to an elite few," Fraser said.

"I believe that art can break down barriers and free troubled and creative minds, which is why these courses can really be life-changing for young people; to give them hope and the option of a better future," he added.

Welsh, who, like Fraser, is from the Muirhouse area of Edinburgh, was immediately keen to be involved, according to Fraser. The author gave the students permission to use The State of the Party as the basis of their film and also offered to speak to them about his own experiences. "He believes in what we are doing," Fraser added.

Welsh said he thought Fraser was an "astonishingly talented and driven film-maker" who "intimately understands the darkness and humour of the piece". He was "delighted" to be involved in this project and "honoured" to have the Edinburgh College students working on his story.

He added: "The State of the Party is a drug-fuelled parable.based on the dark premise that `No good deed goes unpunished' and that things are never so bad that we can't make them worse through our own muddled decision-making. I'm very excited to see their interpretation of the story."

Ray McCowan, vice-principal for education leadership at Edinburgh College, said: "This is just one of the brilliant examples of the work the college is doing to engage with young and unemployed people on its doorstep."

The film will be available to view online in December. A small number of places on the course are still available.

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