Schemers – Review


Schemers is the first film from writer/director/producer Dave Mclean; he hasn’t previously helmed a film prior to this from what I can tell. His IMDB page is actually pretty much blank other than this movie, so there’s really not much to say. Apparently this film was making many of the rounds at the film festival circuits last year but I genuinely hadn’t heard of this one, and I kind of went to see this film out of convenience; it was about the only new release that was playing the weekend I saw it.

The film is based on a true story and centres around Davie, played by Conor Berry, whose football career is ended by an injury he receives. He moves into gig promotion to impress his friend Shona (played by Tara Lee) and teams up with his friends Scott and John (played by Sean Connor and Grant Robert Keelan) to become the premiere music promotion company in Dundee, but falls into debt with gangster Fergie (played by Alastair Thomson Mills), leading to them having to book a very ambitious Iron Maiden gig. This is a film that really bases itself on early 80s nostalgia. The soundtrack definitely reflects that—it is very reminiscent of the end of the prog-rock late 70s moving into British New Wave taking over, and the new wave of British heavy metal which would be fronted by bands like Iron Maiden, Saxon and Def Leppard. This film kind of reminds me of very quintessential British films like Trainspotting, and you’re definitely thinking more Danny Boyle than Richard Curtis, though that being said this is probably the most Scottish movie I have ever seen in my life. Put it this way: I think this film is not going to do very well in America when it comes out. It’s going to certainly be very hard for American companies to market the film—the actors use a lot of Scottish-centric slang and have incredibly thick Dundee accents. I hope you’re caught up with your Scottish slang because you’re going to miss a few things if you aren’t.

Now, the film is fundamentally a plucky chancer’s story with a little bit of humour thrown in the mix, but it’s certainly not typical of a lot of films like its sort; it’s actually quite dark in parts. I can see this film playing a lot late night on Channel 4, and it certainly takes a long time to really get going. If you compare it to a lot of films of its time, I find that this one takes a lot longer to get into its main storyline, and it doesn’t entirely concern itself with the bands in question—we only know about the bands they’re booking based on posters that we see. They fortunately never try to go for lookalikes to pretend to be the bands, but it’s definitely a fascinating story. And again, there is some truth to it, to such an extent there is some archival footage of some of the gigs in the film, and for many people this film is going to be quite a bit of a nostalgia trip.

If there’s one thing I’ll say about this film, it really does feel like a passion project to tell the story; you can really tell there’s a lot of passion there, however I think it’s that same passion to get this story out that is going to be the film’s undoing. I think Schemers will fail to find much of an audience outside of its native country, and it’s a shame because it’s actually a pretty decent film—there’s some really funny moments, there’s some excellent character development, and I thought they accomplished a lot in a very small run-time considering the film is only 1.5 hours long. And man, this film has an excellent soundtrack. If you like music of the early 80s and late 70s, this film has got the soundtrack for you. For a film with the title Schemers, I was expecting it to be a film about con-artists and the sort of people that rip other people off for a living, which I don’t really like, but I actually got a film that was genuinely interesting, fun and about some people I actually ended up liking. It’s basically a film about a bunch of chancers trying to get their big break, and I really enjoyed it. I don’t think this film will have too much success but it’s one that you should definitely check out at some point in your life; it’s genuinely good. And I could see Dundee being very proud of this movie down the line.
Calvin – Nerd Consultant

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