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Vegan versus hunter: a Q&A with Scottish director David Graham Scott

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7 August 2017

Screening on Sat 12 August at DCA, David Graham Scott's compelling documentary The End of the Game examines two very different points of view: those of the vegan and the hunter.

We caught up with David to learn more about the film and the challenges of documentary filmmaking...


Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

I’m from the northern Highlands and work as a journalist in Caithness but I’m best known for the documentaries I’ve had broadcast – many of which are uncompromising and gritty.

"I’ve made films for most of my life - experimental ones to begin with..."

I’ve made films for most of my life - experimental ones to begin with. My first serious documentary was Hanging with Frank, which was completed in 1997. It was shot entirely on 16mm film and in grainy black and white. The film concerns an old fellow lamenting the end of executions as he watches the gallows in Barlinnie prison getting demolished.

I feel that The End of the Game fits very well with that film in that they both feature belligerent old men and are saturated with dark humour and irony. I’ve come full circle after 20 years and completed a body of work I’m happy with.

We're looking forward to seeing The End of the Game - can you tell us a bit about the film?

The End of the Game is a compelling character study of a bizarre eccentric preparing to go on his last big game hunt in Africa. Guy Wallace is a true anachronism – a product of another era - and the only way he could possibly survive is by living on the periphery of society.

I journey to Africa with the old colonial relic as he goes on his last big game hunt to try and bag a cape buffalo – the ironic twist is that I’m a vegan.

"Like many of my other films I do find a level at which I bond with the character I’m filming..."

Like many of my other films I do find a level at which I bond with the character I’m filming. It’s beyond politics and hunting though. I find certain things out about myself as we venture deep into the African bush. These revelations are integral to a true understanding of the documentary.

It’s deliciously ironic that the film is screening on the Glorious Twelfth (the traditional start to the shooting season for grouse) at the DCA.

What were some of the unique challenges you faced making the film?

I knew when I met Guy Wallace, the central character in the film, that he was documentary gold dust. I knew that his moods were changeable and it can be a real challenge pussyfooting around such a person. I’m a fairly genial fellow though and usually I’m able to build up a relationship with the people I film.

"The obvious issues surround the fact I’m a vegan and Guy Wallace is a shameless bloodsports enthusiast..."

The obvious issues surround the fact I’m a vegan and Guy Wallace is a shameless bloodsports enthusiast and hunter. I also feared how I’d get on at the hunting reserve in Africa with regard to getting vegan food. Strangely, it was actually no problem at all - I had more issues filming at a Buddhist monastery in Thailand where the monks were carnivorous junk food fans.

Do you have any advice for budding filmmakers looking to make their first documentary?

It depends on what kind of documentary making you want to do. You could delve into historical, topical, issue-based, experimental and many other styles. The main thing is to get passionate about the people or subject you concentrate on. Stick in there and see it out to the end. Documentary making, be it in film or photography, is something I’m passionate about. I’ve seen many people who only have had one idea that enthused them enough to make a documentary about and they never make another one. That’s fine.

"The main thing is to get passionate about the people or subject you concentrate on."

It’s actually quite hard to construct a compelling narrative with real life situations and you must learn to be patient and wait for the right events to take place.

Can you tell us about any new projects you're working on?

I’m working full-time as a journalist in Caithness at the moment. It uses similar skills to the research and communication abilities I learnt from making documentaries.

"I have many more ideas locked away in my head..." 

I have many more ideas locked away in my head that will probably never see the light of day. I still do documentary photography but I’m seriously considering giving up on filmmaking. My body of authored documentaries seem to be complete now. The End of the Game may be the end of the game for me...literally. 


Keen to learn more? David will be joining us for an audience Q&A following our screening of The End of the Game on Sat 12 August at 18:00. We hope to see you there!

The End of the Game is screening as part of Scottish Encounters, our programme strand that gives audiences the opportunity to see new work from emerging Scottish screen talent, from shorts to features and from documentary to fiction.

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