Edwyn Collins & Grace Maxwell say thank you to Helmsdale

Edwyn Collins with Findlay and Rosemary

He’s ‘got everything he needs, he’s an artist, he don’t look back.’

Bob Dylan’s words sum up the positive energy that is around Edwyn Collins who along with his wife Grace Maxwell, hosted a free screening of The Possibilities Are Endless, as a thank you to the people of Helmsdale.

As it turned out to be a complete sell out, Edwyn and Grace are reprising the occasion on 27 November at Timespan, so that everyone is included. In the audience were some of the local people who appeared in the film, as well as those who shared memories of Edwyn’s grandfather.

The tiny village on the north-coast of Sutherland in Scotland provides the backdrop for this extraordinary new film which is rapidly picking up award nominations. The film charts the incredible story of the Edinburgh born musician who had the contents of his mind effectively deleted after experiencing a stroke in 2005.

During his six months in hospital, Edwyn made a painfully slow recovery but with Grace’s help, was able to submerge himself in a landscape of memories, as he tried to unlock the story of his past. Together, Edwyn and Grace make a creative and tenacious team, and there’s not even a hint of ‘why us’.

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Edwyn formed the rock group Orange Juice in Glasgow in 1979 and enjoyed a huge hit with the song Rip It Up, while his solo hit A Girl Like You transformed him into a global pop star in 1994.

The film, from UK production house Pulse Films, opens in Helmsdale where Edwyn’s family have had a home for generations and where he spent idyllic childhood summers. Helmsdale is the word that Grace whispered in Edwyn’s ear as he lay in the coma, promising they would return there one day.

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Prior to the eight-day film shoot, the film’s directors Edward Lovelace and James Hall spent six weeks in the village without a camera to get to know the community. “We wanted to meet people who have lives that weave a little in and out of Edwyn and Grace’s experience,” Lovelace explains.

The filmmakers wandered around the village, meeting various local people, some of whom would go on to appear in front of the camera, including  fisherman, William Jappy, Findlay Adams, Rosemary Findlay, Andrew Sutherland and Podi Plass.

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“The local people became the best kind of line producers, finding us what we needed. We were invited to eat lobster in their houses and we even joined the rowing club,” adds Lovelace.

The film’s original sound score is written by Edwyn and is available on AEDrecords.com. Edwyn and Grace are currently building a recording studio close to the family home in Helmsdale and will be moving to the village full-time towards the end of this year.

Says Edwyn: “I am so grateful to the directors for giving me the gift of this film which genuinely reflects and is a truthful account of my life.”

Adds Grace: “The directors got the idea of making the film through listening to Edwyn’s music, but the real star of the show is Helmsdale and the surrounding area. The film team was captivated by the magic of the place and really understood why it means so much to us.”

Edwyn Collins Film Special Screening in Helmsdale III

The entire village turned out for the screening and for me, the post-screening interview with Edwyn and Grace was one of the most enjoyable moments of my career.  It was be so easy to look about and savour what is an explosively successful past, but this is not how they operate and their forward thinking is as palpable as it is infectious.

I just can’t wait to see what they will do next – and the recording studio overlooking the village which is currently under construction is just the beginning.

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