When I was at school I was taken up with the idea of films and it was just the time – mid-fifties – when independent films were starting to being made again. So I applied to become a cameraman. No, I went for a job as a stage hand and they said, “Oh no, you’re not right for a stage hand but we’ve got this vacancy for a cameraman”, and they said “Would you like to do that?” And I said: “Pa-hah! You bet sir!” And so that’s where I was a cameraman and video cameraman in Glasgow, and then I went to Manchester. In Manchester at Granada, which was a wonderful company. I made my own films there. On the strength of the films I became a trainee director and then an independent director. I’ve taught in the National Film School and Manchester Film School.
I make documentaries because I’m interested in anything. Everything. Because you go wonderful places; I love to travel and I’ve been fantastic places and had wonderful experiences and met extraordinary people. And I’ve had a fantastic life. I have had a fantastic life. As well as having four extraordinary children and an extraordinary wife.
One of the great privileges of being a director and working with actors, or in documentaries, you get a chance to study the people you’re working with and you see the fantastic uniqueness of everybody’s face. Everybody looks interesting, I mean everybody’s got a story. This community is a very odd place in the sense that there’s some old cranks like me. You can walk past a person for three years and they don’t even look at you. Coming together is a very slow but very important process in Scotland.