Rave On

25 April 2012 | 11:48 am | Anthony Carew

Irvine Welsh's Ecstasy – a pill-poppin', rave-hoppin', brogue-garglin', free-framin', small-timin' to-screen adaptation of a short story (The Undefeated) from 'The Author Of Trainspotting'– is, at times, painfully '90s; a shrine to a zeitgeist two decades gone. So, the question begs: why, then, wasn't it actually set in the '90s, as an embrace of the fact?

“We originally set it in the '90s!” defends Rob Heydon, the energetic Candian video-clip maker – a clubber-since-he-was-13 who's worked with John Digweed, Richie Hawtin, et cetera – who's taken Ecstasy from page to screen. “We even had dialogue about different football games that would give it a specific time and place. But Irvine thought we should get rid of those specific cultural references, because he thought it'd distract from the story.”

That would be Irvine of the Welsh variety; he the opposite of every literary titan who's ever distanced themselves or derided an adaptation of their genius. He's been hella involved: giving script notes, shooting a cameo, doing press, introducing screenings at the Winter Music Conference and the Glasgow Film Festival.

“He's a huge supporter of the film, probably our numberr one fan. To get that endorsement from the author of Trainspotting, Marabou Stork Nightmares and so on is incredible,” Heydon marvels. “Having him there at the Glasgow Film Festival, in February, that was huge for us. [Because] we thought they were going to be our harshest critics; Glaswegians can be very, very hard, it's one of those places where they love you or hate you. And they're probably his biggest fans there… But they loved the film, and that felt really important to us.”

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Welsh's introduction was filled with all the difficulties faced, over the years, with getting Ecstasy made. “There's a generation of clubbers who started in the UK in the mid-'80s and '90s who've been waiting for this for years,” Heydon says.

The 'why' of why it's taken so long isn't much of a shocker. “We approached every film fund in the UK, and none of them were interested in making a film about drugs,” recounts Heydon. “There's obviously a lot of politics that goes into getting film funding in the UK; a lot of film funds just give money to their friends. It's not really about 'what's the best film?' or the commercial viability of a project, it's usually more 'these are people we know locally, let's give them some money'.”

Or, in the infamous case of former Scottish screen CEO John Archer, giving money to his wife (who, as the back-in-the-day scandal went, had never made a film of any kind before). So, Heydon and crew got funding from Canada – working a Canadian wrinkle into the script – for the most Scottish of stories. “Irvine Welsh writes in this Scottish vernacular that, to me, is almost like A Clockwork Orange; it's this other language that you have to come to understand,” Heydon laughs.

And, with that, the filmmaker skips off, with business to attend to. “[The film] opened today in London,” Heydon beams. “We had our premiere at Ministry Of Sound on Tuesday night, and now I'm about to go meet my dad and my brother and a few friends, and we're going to go and see it in a few different cinemas. I honestly can't believe it's happening.”

Screening in selected cinemas from Thursday 25 April.