Queer Edinburgh & Film by Milosh Hughes

To start off the year we took a trip to visit some queer spaces in Edinburgh. We had a lovely time meandering around the beautiful streets of Edinburgh. The queer scene there is totally thriving and it was so powerful to get to engage in spaces made for us! We visited Lighthouse Bookshop, then Kafe Kweer for lunch and had a fantastic afternoon at Lavender Menace Queer Book Archive, where Eleanor and Keava showed us their rare book collection, and told us all about the history of LGBTQIA+ people in Scotland.

To document this trip we invited along filmmaker Milosh Hughes to capture our day out, and he made a beautiful film about our trip. You can watch the film in full here:

We caught up with Milosh and asked him a few questions about filmmaking, and this is what he said:

We’ve noticed from visiting your previous work that you like vintage effects and film processes, what would you say inspires your work?

My love for celluloid imagery and older film styles stems back to my early childhood – My father raised me on films ranging from the 30s through to the 80s, always knowing a certain texture and rendition of colours like that of film. Crisp digital clarity didn’t really appeal to me for its nakedness – if you shoot the same thing on digital a million times, you’ll have a million identical images, which cannot be said for celluloid on account of its subtle imperfections. In the day of recycled VHS tapes we kept around, and even the first DVD copies of certain old films, the restoration efforts and transfers were often quite rubbish, leaving behind several scratches, splice marks, untreated colour blemishes, projector flicker, all the things the filmmakers would curse the limitations of the formats for, but which I grew to assimilate as a part of my eye. I still feel giddy when the light catches the reflective surface of something just right to produce a spectacular bloom of colour aberration and mist!

We really like the ‘fly on the wall’ approach you took to filming our trip. What went through your mind when you were thinking about how to tackle this project? And why did you take this approach?

My main thought was not to be seen! As I practice mostly in narrative cinematic filmmaking styles, it’s a strong impulse of mine to remain as invisible with my equipment as possible – mirrors are scary things to shoot! In the context of this project I didn’t see myself as relevant to the trip, it was about the youth group and their organisers and what they got up to, and some stranger walking around with a camera just felt invasive to that whole story. When watching the footage I wanted the viewer to feel as though they were accompanying that group as an additional attendant. Having any acknowledgement that it was from the perspective of a silent cameraman would immediately ruin that personal feeling of being there in the moment with everyone there on the day.

Were there any challenges during the filming or editing of the film?

Bluntly speaking, the whole project was a challenge, which is why I was so eager to take it! As this was a walk-about tour mixed with impulsive reactions and routes, I had to make sure that I was as alert as possible of everything around me. I couldn’t spend ages setting up the perfect shot and taking it multiple times to get it right. I wanted to catch as many natural moments as I could and catch a laugh as it happened – not ask to have it performed again because I missed it while filming a bird for the credits or something. As far as editing the film I had to keep my “vintage film” urges at bay as I wanted nothing more than to dress the whole thing up as a rickety Super 8 home movie, but I wasn’t confident that this would be the most digestible viewing experience for many who wanted to watch the day back, so I tried to keep things as clean and presentable as I could, while still having a little fun with some colour grading here and there to suggest a little nostalgic sensation.

Have you got any advice for any young filmmakers who want to start making films?

Take any and every opportunity you can to film something nice. There’s more of a habit to capture moments in playback than ever before – With phones, we’re privileged that you don’t have to be a filmmaker to do this. However where your focus as a filmmaker should lie must never be in what gear to equip yourself with, or what the internet says Wes Anderson does in 5 easy steps, it shouldn’t even be in writing scripts or having phenomenal set pieces. Point A should always be catching a moment in time wherever you can. That moment is its own story. You will be surprised what the unscripted expressions of your friends could tell, you will be amazed at what brilliant moods the shadows cast by a sunset can convey, you will never see the same splashes in the waves of the sea twice. This will not only inform a cinematic language inside you the more you do it, but it will also bring stories and ideas to your mind. For over half a decade I’ve made a habit of taking my camera wherever I can with me, and just finding somewhere to shoot something – anything! I will take the most miscellaneous footage for about 15 seconds each clip, and come home with them to start stitching them together in some form of sequence to see what they come up with. I have never come away without some form of story being told. The last time I tried this, it ended up becoming the opening sequence to a long form movie which I have been continuously working on since May of 2023 and, when finished, will be my largest project I have worked on to date. You may find yourself short of ideas and struggling to build confidence in your style, but there is no shortage of ideas in the strangest of things, and you find those ideas through practicing your craft!

What are some of your favourite film(s) you’ve watched recently?

Two which stand out of recent were David Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive” and “Barton Fink” by the Coen Brothers – each are filmmakers I respect immensely, but don’t tend to frequent the works of for one reason or another. Both offered the sense of intense subversion to the narratives they worked hard to establish. With Lynch this was more of an expectation based on his typical style, however “Barton Fink” awarded me with a sense of total head-spinning surprise I could never have predicted in as many guesses as I tried. The two also offer some superb visual styles and heavy emotion to both the characters and their respective stories,  but the main takeaway which made them remain with me is that they utterly surprised me, and caught me well off guard, no matter how comfortable I may feel with abstract narratives and stories I’ve well saturated myself with at this point. Watching new movies for the sake of experiencing something new is what I feel keeps the medium alive and is definitely something I aspire to achieve in my own works. Never get yourselves too comfortable with anything lest it become dull as dishwater!

You can check out more of Milosh’s films on his Youtube channel here, or catch his photography and short films on Instagram @photon.photobomb.

Thank you so much Milosh for capturing our day out so perfectly. We also would like to thank Lighthouse Bookshop, Kafe Kweer and Lavender Menace for being so kind and welcoming to our group. It turns out Edinburgh is very queer indeed!

lavendermenace.org.uk @lavender_menace_returns

lighthousebookshop.com @lighthousebks


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