The Scottish Tale

Interview with writer/director Mack Polhemus

I've heard that "The Scottish Tale" is partially autobiographical. Where did the idea come from?

I wrote it a few months before I got married. Marriage was no easy task for me especially considering my future wife had been my brother's ex-girlfriend. This coupled with the fact that my parents divorced when we were kids made me very apprehensive about marriage. In fact the best part of my parent's marriage was their divorce. My brother and I became very close and whenever we had real problems we'd talk to each other. But the fact that I had a strong affection for his girlfriend was not something I could confide in him. When I finally did bring it up to him and to her, everything fell into place. I found out that the two were dating casually and had never really clicked romantically. I realized that the hardest part of the situation was being honest not with my brother, but with myself. So the internal drama of Mac's in "The Scottish Tale" is definitely autobiographical. The part about growing pot to support poetry writing is fiction, pure fiction.

What was it like watching your brother kiss your wife?

People always ask me that. It's not like I walked into a room and busted them. They're both professional actors and there's a whole crew of people watching them so I knew they weren't going to go any further than first base. I was just praying that everything went technically well so we wouldn't have to retake that kiss twenty-something times.

How did your brother take direction from you?

I didn't have to give him much direction. He's a great actor. I knew he would bring depth and solemnity to the part because he really is a deep and solemn person. That's also the reason I thought he was perfect for a semi-comedic role. Nothing is funny unless you care about it and I think that Josiah, even in his ridiculous actions is a sympathetic character. My only directions to him were to trust himself and the strength of his character. He did. I think he's the heart and backbone of the film.

Are you Scottish?

I've never dressed up in Scottish battle garb or kilt, but my grandparents on my mother's side are Scottish. My mom doesn't have an accent, she just has a red face, a nasty temper, likes to drink, play golf and have a good time like any other true Scotsman. I think my brother, sister and I are the same least we all like to drink.

Do you have any personal attachment to Macbeth?

In college I did my senior thesis on Shakespeare. We had a crazy teacher who let us act scenes from plays rather than write a paper. My group did a scene from Macbeth and the guy who played Macbeth was pretty good, but the rest of the scene was a disaster. The class was roaring with laughter and I think part of the reason it was so funny was because the main actor kept playing it straight. Macbeth, even though he's a murderer, a warrior and a superstitious fool, is still a sympathetic, likable character because we identify with him. Maybe we don't identify with his particular dilemma, but on some level, we understand why he takes life so seriously. We all struggle with love, family, or career at some time in our lives and for that time, our lives seem to take on greater importance. We literally share the same thoughts and feelings of epic heroes (just as Mac does with Macbeth). Ironically, it is at these times that we are less heroic, more vulnerable than ever. I also think Shakespeare's a pretty good writer for an Elizabethan sissy and his plots are worth stealing.

What are you going to do with your first million?

Enjoy life. Eat out more often.

Interview with producer/actor Ann Boehlke

Did you really break the Guinness World Record?

Yes. My friends know I always make a big production out of everything and they knew I'd have a big wedding. They asked sarcastically, "Are you going to break a world record?" I took the dare literally. I checked the Guinness Book for wedding records that were breakable. The longest wedding train was only 172 feet. I invited all the guests to submit 2 by 2 panels that I could sew together to make the train. A lot more people responded than I thought. We smashed the record with a wedding train of 417 feet 11 inches. Look it up if you don't believe it.

Is it the same train you wear in the wedding?

It is one and the same. I wore that big hat too. I guess you think I'm crazy. I guess I am.

What was it like doing double duty as actor and producer?

It was the most intense experience in my life. I had to use every ounce of energy I had to get through the 14 days. Every night whether I was in scenes or not, I had to clean up a site. We used a church near the house. When the minister's wife saw grips throwing cigarette butts around and all the pews propped up against gravestones, she went crazy. I had to finish my acting scene, pacify her and then mop the church floor. Meanwhile the entire crew had moved on to a new location.  Not having the money to meet the crew's basic needs, I had to constantly compensate with intangibles like 2nd meals (I made myself), beer, cigarettes and shorter days. One time I found I had to yell at the make-up person for her treatment of another actor while she was putting make-up on me. She's a great person, but sometimes I just lost it.

How did you feel about acting a role that was literally based on your real-life character?

At first it was awkward especially in the rehearsals with Josiah. We had dated a few years ago and that's actually how I met Mack. Josiah's an actor and sort of a ladies' man so I don't think I was particularly special to him. However, he is not the cad that's in the movie. He's a great guy and I'd date him again if I weren't married to his brother. As for my character, I think Mack just picked out the weirdest things about me and stuck them in the movie. I think the part I liked best were the heartfelt scenes with Sandy Kenyon who plays the crazy father. He had me bawling at the audition. I guess he has a long lost child from the war and has never met him or her. We've become great friends and I still call him dad.

Of the entire production process, what was the most enjoyable part?

I most enjoyed singing the end credits. I got a chance to work with my buddy Ed Bogas, the film's composer. We had worked together before on the Garfield cartoon theme song. When I'm in the studio singing, I feel I'm in my true element. But the learning experience of producing from conception to marketing has been very fulfilling. I've been a boom operator, cook, dishwasher, floor mopper, actor and studio manager for this film. It was film school in a bucket.

What's next?

I just had a baby. So I've been concentrating on her pretty much full time. Also I play a lot of baseball, in fact I made the professional woman's baseball team, but I didn't want to go on the road and miss the baby. Mack has a baseball script he's working on so that may be next.

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