Ken Grieve, Retired Filmmaker

I’ve lived in Marchmont for about – the Southside – for about fifteen years.  I like Edinburgh.  I come from Edinburgh and it’s almost impossible to escape.  All the toys and bits of wood and things in the garden are all things that have been thrown away in the street, but I like the look of it and I like it: the children pass and they say, “Oh, I like that” and 
I can give them one of the toys or whatever it is.  I do it because I 
live on my own and my horizon is about half a mile.  So I’ve had to sort of re-order my life to get as much as I can out of quite a small environment, you know, and I’m used to travelling the world until four years ago I was about to go and work in America.  Two days before I was due to fly out there I was diagnosed 
with cancer so instead of going, getting on an aeroplane, I was in a hospital being filled with drugs.  
So that’s why I do have all this, you know.  And then my wife died so, just to keep my mind occupied…  But that’s only one thing I do! (Laughs)


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.