Film office for Edinburgh, East Lothian and the Scottish Borders
Page to Screen
Film office for Edinburgh, East Lothian and the Scottish Borders

Page to Screen: Edinburgh Book Festival 2016

Edinburgh in August is a hotbed of activity, the city buzzing with the various festivals taking place. The last two weeks of the month hosts the Edinburgh International Book Festival. We take a look at some of the authors appearing this year whose work has been adapted for film and television in the Edinburgh city region.

In 1993 Sunday Times described Irvine Welsh’s debut novel, Trainspotting, as "the voice of punk, grown up, grown wiser and grown eloquent" proclaiming the author to be “the best thing that has happened to British writing for decades”.

While the Edinburgh native’s book was successful upon release, it would be Danny Boyle’s film adaptation in 1996 that would bring both Trainspotting and Welsh to a worldwide audience.

Filming on Princes Street

Two years earlier the trio of director Boyle along with producer Andrew Macdonald and writer John Hodge had released the unexpected box office hit Shallow Grave to critical acclaim. That success allowed them to gain the investment needed to turn Welsh’s black comedy into what would become the highest-grossing British film of 1996.

The still then relatively unknown Ewan McGregor would return from Shallow Grave to play protagonist Renton, while he would be joined by Ewan Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle, Kevin McKidd and Kelly Macdonald. The rest is history.

Trainspotting (1996)

Trainspotting was released to universal acclaim and box office success. Hodge’s script, would pick up an Oscar nomination and a BAFTA win for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Despite being entirely set in 1980s Edinburgh the film was shot mainly in Glasgow. However the now infamous opening sequence, 'Choose Life', was filmed on location in Princes Street, Calton Road and Hanover Street.

The Acid House (1998)

On the heels of Trainspotting’s success, Paul McGuigan made his directorial debut with anthology film, The Acid House in 1998.

Adapted from three of his own short stories, Welsh penned the screenplay himself with Trainspotting alumni Ewan Bremner and Kevin McKidd heading up the cast. While not the mainstream success of Trainspotting, The Acid House is regarded in some quarters as a cult classic.

Welsh would co-write the screenplay for 2007’s Wedding Belles, set and filmed in Edinburgh, before James McAvoy stepped into the shoes of corrupt, junkie policeman, Bruce Robertson for Filth.

In February 2012 scenes were filmed at Edinburgh Castle, Merchant Street, Victoria Street and Grassmarket - where Welsh appears in a cameo role as a reporter.

James McAvoy and Irvine Welsh in Filth

The darkly comic tale of Robertson’s attempts to manipulate his way to a promotion in order to win back his wife and daughter was a hit with critics and audiences alike upon its release the following year.

Which brings us to 2016. Despite script details being kept under wraps and Film Edinburgh’s lips sealed, it’s no secret that Danny Boyle has managed to reunite the original Trainspotting cast and they have been shooting the sequel in the Capital this summer. Based in part on Irvine Welsh’s follow up novel, Porno, the film is due to be released in January 2017.

Michel Faber | Under the Skin

Michel Faber’s debut novel, Under The Skin, was released in 2000 while the film adaption would be released in 2013. During that time acclaimed director Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast) spent over a decade developing his interpretation of the Whitbread Award nominated source material.

Under the Skin (2013)

Scarlett Johansson plays the mysterious woman who spends her evening hours driving the streets of Scotland looking for lonely men to seduce. The events lead her to begin a process of self-discovery.

Filmed across the country, East Lothian hosted filming at Historic Scotland’s Tantallon Castle near North Berwick.

Tantallon Castle (c/o Historic Scotland)

The film was a critical success, appearing on various critics lists and amassing an astonishing 116 nominations in total from various critics associations and festivals including two BAFTA nominations.

Ian Rankin | Rebus, Doors Open

If Irvine Welsh is known for the Capital’s criminal protagonists, Ian Rankin is known for those tasked with stopping them, more specifically Inspector John Rebus.

Ian Rankin’s hugely successful detective series began when Knots and Crosses was published in 1987 and has since seen the Edinburgh based police inspector appear in a total of twenty novels.

Filming Rebus at Candlemaker Row (2005)

In 2000 John Hannah took up the role of Rebus appearing in four episodes between then and 2004 which would be broadcast on STV.

Season 2 saw a casting change with Edinburgh native Ken Stott stepping into Rebus’ shoes. Stott would appear in ten episodes across three series'.

With a total of fourteen episodes shot in Edinburgh and East Lothian the list of exact locations featured are too large to list here. However along with This is Edinburgh we are are currently working on an Edinburgh crime map of the city which will no doubt shed some more light on the case.

Filming on Victoria Street (2006)

Rankin, who currently owns the rights to future adaptations, has mentioned that he would like to see Rebus turned into an extended series like The Killing so there’s always a chance we will see Rebus on the screen again in the future.

Rankin took a break from Rebus in 2008 to write a new thriller, Doors Open that sees a self-made millionaire, an art professor and a banker come together to undertake an audacious art heist.

Stephen Fry and Douglas Henshall took up starring roles and filming began in 2012. The village of Garvald in East Lothian and the Scottish Borders coast were used as locations while Edinburgh Airport, Edinburgh College of Art, Sherton Hotel, Ocean Terminal and Easter Road were just some of the many locations used in the City.

Garvald, East Lothian

Filming wrapped after nearly four weeks and the film was broadcast on ITV, Boxing Day 2012.

The Edinburgh International Book Festival runs from 13-29 August 2016