Everyone growing up in a nothing town dreams of making something of it. For director Dave McLean, it was throwing a disco to impress a girl, which led to gig after gig, booking the likes of Simple Minds, The Vapours, and The Skids to play late 1970s Dundee.

Schemers is the true-story rush and stress of putting together a rock ‘n’ roll show, from the roar of the crowd to affording the venue. McLean captures the spontaneity of youth, with Davie (Conor Berry) epitomising this, as the character flying by the seat of his pants with naïve optimism as he struggles to keep the plates spinning. With his friends and co-organisers Scot (Sean Connor) and John (Grant Robert Keelan), they symbolise a nostalgia for a time when grassroots events succeeded on word of mouth and hard graft over hashtags and Facebook events.

But unlike, say, Sing Street, characterisation is sacrificed for plot. McLean is more interested in recalling events than the significance of them. There’s a lot of ‘what’; not enough ‘why’. It’s noticeable in how slight the film feels, brushing over Davie’s gradual success without any tangible buzz, edited and pieced together like a slideshow of moments which sound cool on paper, but ultimately feel meaningless.

Without that substance, a game and likeable cast aren’t given the tools to leave any real impact. Berry’s Davie is an everyman who it would be easy to root for, if we knew why we were rooting for him. Tara Lee’s Shona is Davie’s motivational girlfriend with no depth. For a film that relies on fondness for the good ol’ days, there’s nothing to convince that they’re anything more than anecdotes for McLean, instead of significant and formative times of his life.

What ought to be an exciting sequence of events lacks the heart to makes them matter. Maybe you had to be there.



CAST: Conor Berry, Sean Connor, Grant Robert Keelan, Tara Lee


WRITERS: Dave McLean, Khaled Spiewak, Kyle Titterton

SYNOPSIS: Set in late-1970’s Dundee, Schemers is based on writer-producer David McLean’s early years in the music business.