In the early 1990s David Hayman was awarded the City of Glasgow’s Gold Medal for outstanding services to the performing arts – it is entirely fitting that he was recognised in this civic manner, as alongside acting with and directing some of the biggest names in Hollywood he continues to take a passionate interest in the city’s matters – past and present.
The early part of David Hayman’s life story so far is Glasgow through and through – born in Bridgeton on 9th February 1948, he went on to be an engineering apprentice in Maryhill and he studied at the city’s Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama before starting his acting career at the Citizens Theatre.
That acting career has gone on to span stage and screens big and small, with a continuing active presence on all three platforms. Movie credits over the years include Hope and Glory, Rob Roy, Vertical Limit and The Tailor of Panama, while more recently he had a small role as Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit and is attached to a number of forthcoming releases – most notably 2015’s Macbeth, starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard.
He both acted in and directed Glasgow-set features Silent Scream and The Near Room, as well as directing a number of other films and television programmes. These include The Hawk, for which he directed Helen Mirren – his co-star in another Glasgow film, Heavenly Pursuits.
Hayman wears his Glasgow badge proudly. On television he has appeared on institutions Scotch & Wry, Rab C. Nesbitt and Still Game, as well as hosting the documentaries In Search of Bible John and Clydebuilt: The Ships That Built the Commonwealth. He is a noted supporter of Celtic Football Club, publicly backed Glasgow MSP Sandra White in her election campaign and founded the city-based humanitarian charity Spirit Aid. In 2001 Spirit Aid announced plans for a Live Aid style event at Hampden Stadium, with the Evening Times reporting that Hayman would be getting his Tailor of Panama co-stars Pierce Brosnan and Jamie Lee Curtis on board to appear at the event – while the Hampden event sadly did not transpire, the charity successfully continues to this day supporting projects from Partick to Sri Lanka.
This 1986 film, also known as The Gospel According to Vic in some parts, is a real gem in Glasgow’s film history. Starring Tom Conti and Helen Mirren as teachers Vic and Ruth, Heavenly Pursuits follows a very original storyline – at a time when school and church authorities are keen to see a sainthood bestowed on the namesake of the Blessed Edith Semple School, a series of potentially miraculous occurrences captures the attention of the whole of Glasgow and gets cynical Vic thinking twice.
The film opens in Rome – where Brian Pettifer’s Father Cobb is visiting the Vatican (in fact the interior is Glasgow City Chambers) to petition a senior figure in the Catholic church on the Edith Semple matter – before switching from the grandeur of St. Peter’s Square to the Glasgow skyline under a rather murky sky. But this is not setting us up for a “grim Glasgow” tale – some years before its City of Culture renaissance the city looks fantastic throughout and it is a cheerful and upbeat movie.
The cast is first class. Conti and Mirren are on fine form as always and the former in particular is really well paired with David Hayman as his friend and union rep Jeff. As mentioned above Brian Pettifer is the school’s chaplain, and he is joined by Dave Anderson as the headmaster. Other well known Scottish faces to appear include Juliet Cadzow and Ron Donachie. The school pupils are great too – there’s a particularly joyous scene when young Stevie, whose abilities are a cause for concern to some, beats Vic in an impromptu contest to list motorcycle brands. It’s a moment of glory for Stevie as the kids all cheer him on excitedly and it’s a defeat that Vic is more than happy to accept. Stevie – incidentally – is played by a young Ewen Bremner, and Tony Curran is also listed as one of the pupils in the credits. And one final note on the names to pop up in Heavenly Pursuits – Gordon Jackson appears as himself discussing the newspapers (in particular the Blessed Edith Semple School story) on breakfast television with broadcaster Sheena McDonald.
Glasgow is another star of the film and locations featured include Glasgow Cathedral, the Victoria Infirmary, Great Western Road, Sauchiehall Street, the Western Infirmary, Renfield Street, the Kingston Bridge and Queen Street Station. The exterior used for the school at the centre of all the action is that of Queen’s Park Secondary School on Grange Road – the school has since been demolished and a modern satellite building to the Victoria Infirmary now stands on the site.
The sight of Queen’s Park Secondary was a blast from the past and that is another enjoyable feature of Heavenly Pursuits – the nostalgia. If you remember Glasgow in the 1980s look out for glimpses of Wimpy on Sauchiehall Street and Pizzaland just across the road from it, the Odeon on Renfield Street, the Irn Bru clock on Union Street, John Menzies in Queen Street Station and orange buses galore.
Completing the package is an excellent soundtrack from BA Robertson. With Heavenly Pursuits writer and director Charles Gormley has presented a charming Glasgow feature that can sit comfortably alongside bigger budget Hollywood productions of its time.
Silent Scream is a 1990 film directed by Glaswegian actor and director David Hayman, who makes a brief cameo appearance in the movie. It is based on the true story of Larry Winters – a Glasgow man jailed for life at Barlinnie prison after shooting dead a barman in a London pub. While examples of violence perpetrated by Winters are limited in the film itself (with the shooting being the obvious exception to this), he is regarded as one of the Glasgow prison’s most violent inmates and is hated by the prison staff. That is in the main prison however – a significant part of the film concerns his transfer to the Barlinnie secure unit, where there is a very different environment and the staff seem practically like friends to Winters and other prisoners. Perhaps the most striking example of the different atmosphere is when some of the prison officers accompany Larry on a day release to visit his family – he leaves the house with his father and a conversation between the affable secure unit staff goes: “Larry’s away for a walk”, “Hope he comes back”, “Don’t worry, he will” – with that last line delivered in a cheerful manner as opposed to a threatening one implying that he’ll have the hounds released on him to ensure he does. At this stage in his incarceration though Winters’ stability declines in a different way through his dependency on drugs.
There are a number of observations to be made about Silent Scream, with the first couple concerning its production – it is not just a straightforward crime tale, with hallucinations and animations contributing alongside more pedestrian flashbacks to Larry Winters’ childhood and young adulthood. A particularly interesting mechanic in the film is the use of the prison’s security monitors – which we are occasionally shown flickering with static before they open up a window into the latest flashback. Speaking of flashbacks, the film is set primarily during the 1970s – during the later spell of Winters’ imprisonment – but we do get a glimpse into his life in the preceding decades, from a childhood relocation to Carbisdale to time spent in Wales as part of the Brecon Beacons Parachute Regiment, and the fateful spell in London. 23 years after its release the movie does seem somewhat dated compared to some of its contemporaries, and that is not simply because of the period setting – Silent Scream actually feels like it was made not in 1990 but in the 1970s at some points.
The role of Larry Winters is taken on by Edinburgh born Iain Glen, who is excellent as the emaciated, mentally tormented killer. The cast also includes John Murtagh, Robert Carlyle, Julie Graham, Douglas Henshall, Caroline Paterson and Tom Watson – who plays the murdered barman Patrick and puts in a few eerie appearances in Larry’s fantasies. And a special mention must go to the late Anne Kristen, who delivers a strong performance as the Winters matriarch whose love and pride for her son remain steadfast.
As for Glasgow’s part in Silent Scream – Barlinnie prison naturally features, as do the Royal Infirmary and the Necropolis among other locations. Some interior scenes were shot at Blackcat Studios in Glasgow and, as contributor Neil Johnson-Symington highlights in his “Cinema City” essay in Nicola Balkind’s World Film Locations Glasgow book, the London “Vogue” cinema that appears in the film is in fact the former Riddrie cinema in Glasgow. While dealing with a dark subject matter and set at a time when Glasgow was in decline, Silent Scream manages not to portray the city as one of complete hopelessness – Barlinnie’s secure unit, while flawed in places, shows an early attempt at innovation and open-mindedness by authorities while the wider Winters family are portrayed as good and hard working people.