I recently met up with Gerard Sampaio in Caf Cherubini on Great Western Road to chat to him about his film 'West End Story' - much of which was set in Glasgow West End. For a man who has accomplished so much with so little in the way of resources I found him to be remarkably laid back and unphased about the whole affair; reputedly the film was made for price of a small family car.
The film was screened at Glasgow Film Theatre on 28th November, 2004 and was a resounding success. The film shows the West Ends leafy streets and sandstone tenements to perfection and captures the atmosphere of this place. It takes you into the lives of a small group of people and offers an insight into their fears, foibles, their meeting up, being let down and moving on. There is something very natural Gerards approach and his empathy with his characters and the location shine through. It is a marvelous film and should surely set the stage for a successful future in film-making.
Gerard was inspired by Charlie Gormley, the Scottish film maker, whom he met as a youngster growing up in Dowanhill in the heart of Glasgows West End. Following in his mothers footsteps he graduated from Glasgow University, where he studied English and Film. Three years in a row Gerard won the National Student Television Award for Drama prior to moving to London to hone his skills working in factual television. He also managed to fit in some traveling and see a bit of the world including the cities and mountain villages of his fathers Portuguese homeland. After hearing about his journey to this part of the world you feel that this has got to be your next destination, although, there is nothing forceful or overtly promoting in the way Gerard tells the tale of his travels. He is certainly not hell bent on encouraging you to go off an book a flight to Portugal but he so genuinely feels that it is wonderful then you just know that this must be the case. With a readiness and ease he displays the writers gift for creating imagery and interest.
Maybe it was this same quiet and clear conviction that was at work when he persuaded the Glasgow Media Access Centre to provide an office "and endless technical and moral support'. His friends and family also lent their support and homes and businesses becam film locations - enabling Gerard to create this brilliant film without first of all gaining major financial backing. He is most appreciative of all the support he was given to make the film become a reality and its reception at the GFT was no less than rapturous.
Gerard is currently addressing some technical issues related to West End Story and who knows it could (and should) be included in some of the major Film Festivals. He is also already thinking about his next project and has started writing another film - I was delighted to learn that this will also be set in Glasgows West End. As Gerard points out in an interview with screenbiz.co.uk I dont really see the world around me being portrayed on screen very often. (http://www.screenbiz.co.uk/up%20front/screengerardsempaio1.htm)
I cant give you the scoop on the storyline but it will be a bit darker than West End Story. I'll be looking forward to this film particularly as, once more, the West End will provide the backdrop for the story. This surely presents an opportunity for Scottish Film, VisitScotland , SeeGlasgow and the City Council promote a new talent in the film industry, whilst simultaneously highlighting some of the appeal of Glasgow.