‘Where You’re Meant To Be’ is, as the tagline suggests, “a funny wee film about music and death”. But it’s so much more than that.
Aidan Moffat seeks to rewrite Scottish traditional songs for a new audience, to keep them going, to breathe new life into them. He goes around the country collecting the songs and telling of his plans, without much opposition – until he encounters Sheila Stewart.
We first see Sheila skinning a rabbit in her kitchen, singing a delightful song, ‘Mickey’s Warning’, about a man who beats up his wife (but she gets her own back). We realise from the get go that she’s not someone to be messed with. She’s a traveller, her mother was born in a tent, while Sheila was born in a stable.
Aidan tries to impress Sheila with his knowledge of the ballads, but to no avail. “Know your history!” she says. “These songs are our soil. They’re a gift from our ancestors.” There’s a truth in that. But there’s also a truth in what Aidan has to say. He acknowledges the history Sheila so reveres, but in his journey he encounters many people with their own histories, and their own take on the Ballads. Like the farmer Aidan encounters, who tells a moving story of his wife Katie, “She was the wind under my sails”. The Ballads have meaning to everyone, different meanings.
Aidan’s personal history is the Barrowland Ballroom, in Glasgow. His Grandparents used to dance there, Simple Minds first played there in 1983. It’s where he finishes his tour of Scotland and presents his songs, with all the people he’s met – including Sheila – in attendance, and he presents his rewritten Ballads, with respect to the past but with an eye to the future, therefore breathing new life in them for a future generation.
‘Where You’re Meant To Be’ is a bittersweet, humorous, clever film. There’s a twist at the end we won’t reveal, but we can guarantee you’ll leave with a spring in your step and a tear in your eye.
Directed and Produced by Paul Fegan (from the production company, Better Days), ‘Where You’re Meant To Be’ stars Aidan Moffat and Sheila Stewart. Fegan has countless awards under his belt, for his debut film ‘Pouters’ (2012), including Best Documentary (Jury Award) at the London Short Film Festival, Best Film (Audience Award) at Hamburg International Short Film Festival, and Best Scottish Short Film (Jury Award) at the Glasgow Short Film Festival. Fegan has also directed music videos, including Belle & Sebastian’s ‘Come On Sister’ and Moffat & Wells’ ‘The Copper Top’. He has an extensive background in music promotion and has been producing music events for over 20 years, including the Triptych Music Festival.
Aidan Moffat is one of Scotland’s most distinctive musical and literary voices. His first band, Arab Strap, is considered to be one of the most influential bands of the Britpop era. A compelling performer, lyricist, author and storyteller, he won 2012s Scottish Album of the Year Award for his collaboration with Bill Wells, ‘Everything’s Getting Older’. Aidan’s latest album with Bill Wells, ‘The Most Important Place In The World’, was released last year.
Sheila Stewart was Scotland’s definitive traditional folk ballad singer. A storyteller and traveller, she was born in Blairgowrie and honed her voice while berry picking in Perthshire. She sang for the Pope, and performed at the White House. In the foreword to Sheila’s 2011 autobiography, ‘A Traveller’s Life’, storyteller Jess Smith described her as “the vibrant heart of Scotland’s travelling folk”.
For details of screening times and locations of ‘Where You’re Meant To Be’, see their official website.