The film festival and me

Best of

The camera shutter snapped open. The flash fired. Darkness. And that was that: we had taken the photograph that would become the front cover of the programme for the Edinburgh International Film Festival

It was late afternoon one weekday in April. I was sat at my desk at work, lazily programming away. To my right, Ben leant back in his chair, turned to me, and asked a question.

I must have misheard him — either that or he’d said something absurd. I didn’t know which, so I started an intelligent, probing interrogation.

What? I said.

Ben repeated the question. I had heard it correctly. Ben was clearly going mad. Time to start asking the hard questions.

What? I asked, again. Ben sighed.

Do you want to take part in a photo shoot? he asked, probably wishing he hadn’t bothered.

And so I came to be in a pitch black room on Duke Street, stood in front of a photographer. Out in front of me, in my right hand, I held a torch.

You know what to do?, the photographer asked. I nodded.


His camera shutter snapped open. I had eight seconds. Slowly, I moved the torch round. Jagged shapes. Seven points, and back to the beginning. Then, quickly, I shifted position, into that most famous of Elvis poses.

A discarded shot. One of the many photographs abandoned after the shoot.

The flash fired. For a fraction of a second I saw everyone in the room, still, caught in the light. Then darkness.

And that was that. There would be more photos, there would be more models. But just then, we had taken the photograph that would become the front cover of the programme for the 61st Edinburgh International Film Festival.

Fifteen minutes of fame

Two months later the Film Festival sent a crate of beer, a few copies of the programme, and a huge poster — a duplicate of the front cover — to the office. Looking at the poster it was strange to see me, almost life-size, frozen still in that tiny studio in Leith.

And so, for the next few weeks, I would walk into shops, newsagents, cinemas, and find stacks of the programme in a corner, next to the tills, on a shelf. I would walk past the Filmhouse and see the poster, my head down and arm outstretched. That was undeniably cool.

But all things come to an end: with the festivals finished, the programme complete, and the posters taken down, my fifteen minutes of fame are over.

Tomorrow is the first weekday in September. I’ll be sat at my desk at work, lazily programming away. Ben, away on holiday, won’t be there to lean back in his chair, turn to me, and ask a strange question. Normal service is resumed.