Scots screenwriter launches crowdfunder to turn Fringe show into film

Inspired by legendary Perth and Dundee’s Rhumba Club, Better Days takes the audience on a house music journey from 1990 to 1993, combining poetic storytelling with classic dance tunes from the era.

Better Days tells the story of Danny, a 19-year-old in 1990, who finds himself at a crossroads between two tribes – the burgeoning house music scene and the gang of football hooligans to which he is bound by fierce loyalty.

The stage show is the latest project from Perth native Ben Tagoe, whose previous work includes short film Black Magic and plays such as When We Were Brothers, Bittersweet Sunshine for Red Ladder, Cold Turkey at Nana’s, The Thing about Psychopaths and Triple Word Score, which was broadcast on BBC Radio 4. 

Tagoe, who is now based in West Yorkshire, has also worked on TV dramas such as Jamie Johnson, Lucky Man, Coronation Street, Eastenders, Doctors and Casualty. 

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He is currently adapting two novels by Scottish authors in Graeme Armstrong’s acclaimed debut novel The Young Team for Synchronicity Films and James Robertson’s novel Joseph Knight for Crab Apple Films. 

The one-man show toured the UK earlier this year, selling out and winning rave reviews. Now its set for a lengthy run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, kicking off on August 4 and running until the end of the month.

Tagoe had also planned to tour Better Days again in the Autumn after its Edinburgh Fringe run, but, after encouraging talks with producers, the playwright is now focused on turning the semi-autobiographical story into a short film.

Should the £30,000 crowdfunder target he has set to create the short be “massively exceeded”, then Tagoe said his aim would then be to create a proper feature film instead.

The original tour for the stage show was also funded via a crowdfunding campaign, so Ben feels it’s nice to be taking Better Days “back to the public” again.

HeraldScotland: Better Days stars actor George MartinBetter Days stars actor George Martin (Image: Dirt Comms)

Ben said: “Last year, I raised enough money to create the one-man stage show Better Days, which toured the UK and received an incredible response.

“Now, I want to try and create a short film based on the stage show. The plan is to create a professionally produced short film that we can enter for festivals etc. This won’t be cheap, especially if we want to use a few of the amazing tracks from the stage show.

“If I’m doing this, everyone on the production will need to be paid proper industry rates and I really want to create something that is as well received as the Better Days show was.

 “In an ideal world, I’d love to create a feature film, and if we massively exceeded the target then that would be the aim. If we hit the £30k ask quickly enough, then I will do a stretch target and see what’s possible.

“However, £30k would be enough to create an amazing short. And the plan is to show it around the country with parties afterwards.”

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Ben plans to stage special events as a thanks for those who contribute to the fundraiser.

He is already thinking about potentially running special events with either a version of the play and a party, or just a club night with music and DJs inspired by Better Days.

Tagoe now hopes to bring the stage show to an even wider audience, first through the Edinburgh Fringe run and then with the film.

He said: “It’s incredible to see the reaction we have had so far. Edinburgh is of course massively exciting and I hope we can tell our story to lots of people there.

“Then the idea of this being a film is just….I never would have dreamed of it when I wrote Better Days.

“Telling our stories, those of myself and my friends back in those troubled days before we discovered acid house… it means the world.”

You can check out the crowdfunder now here

Better Days runs at La Belle Angele in Edinburgh at 1.30pm from Aug 4-26 apart from 14 and 21.

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