ANYONE who has heard the tale knew it was a story worth telling – three teenagers try to repay their debt to gangsters by getting Iron Maiden to play a gig in Dundee.

Fittingly, those who read that one sentence will already be pulled in. Some stories are too hard to escape from.

Schemers shines a light on the frustrations felt in housing estates all over Scotland and the constant skirmish to match ambition with opportunity. For many the latter is much too elusive, while the former descends into an entrenched frustration.

The film is, of course, a true story. Davie McLean is the writer, director and main character whose tale comes to life as he recounts the journey to bring the metal giants to the Caird Hall in 1980.

While the movie has a "madcap caper" feel to it, there is an underlying commentary about the desire to break free from social constraints.

What's more is that the film serves to capture the essence of the music scene in Dundee at the time.

Sean Connor, who was cast to play Scot – one of the three main characters and Davie's best friend – was taken in by the significance of the project. He remembers standing in the same venues detailed in the story, and hearing the list of iconic bands to have played there, and feeling a sense of history on display.

He tells The Weekender: "These music venues are where memories are made – the type of memories that will stick with people throughout their whole lives. Some of the gigs I've been to over the course of my life…they will stick with me forever."

Sean Connor took on the role of Scot in Schemers. Picture by Kristi Herd

Sean Connor took on the role of Scot in Schemers. Picture by Kristi Herd

Davie, Scot and John may be the three main players in the story but music is just as much a character. It would be nearly impossible to truly set the scene without a fitting soundtrack, and Schemers did not pull punches.

Tracks from The View, The Sandinistas, Hawkwind, The Proclaimers, Placebo, Dead Kennedys as well as The Sensational Alex Harvey Band and Iron Maiden.

The film also features cameos from The View's Kyle Falconer, former Danny Wilson band member Kit Clark and former Dundee United player Dave Bowman.

The city of Dundee also makes its mark on the project with filming taking place in a few iconic locations such as Groucho's, Clarks, Beat Generator and Caird Hall itself.

"I think we've done a decent job of trying to capture the feel of the music scene from that time," Connor adds. "A lot of people will identify with that scene back in the day and relive what it must have been like back then. It was nice to see what the music scene was like in Scotland back then."

"I've always been very interested in music – it's always been a huge part of my life. And I just loved the chance to delve into this totally different dynamic.

"And it was great to be able to shoot in these venues, the ones that were there at the time and have been here for so long. Then you talk to the venue owners and you hear the stories of all the bands that used to play there, it was just so interesting, and it's been great to be a part of something I have so much love for."

Like so many other music fans, Connor appreciates the value of live music. He advocates the idea that, while you can put a price on a ticket, no money can buy the memories made at some of these shows.

IMPACT: Alloa native Khaled Spiewak made a notable contribution to Schemers. Pictures by Stephen D Grant

IMPACT: Alloa native Khaled Spiewak made a notable contribution to Schemers. Pictures by Stephen D Grant

The story behind the making of Schemers is, of course, not a simple one. At one point the project had to be brought back from the brink of ruin. Principal photography had finished back in 2019 but it was clear that more work was needed to complete the project.

Alloa filmmaker Khaled Spiewak was among those who worked to save the movie. He came in to recut the film, helping with rewrites before some scenes were then re-shot.

It was a slow burn of interest for Spiewak. Initially, he was not too taken by the project; however, after speaking with others involved, he began to appreciate its value. He was struck by the heart of the story – as well as its unpredictable nature.

"At first, I didn't believe it," he says. "It all seemed a bit far-fetched. But when you had so many different sources telling you same thing, you start to feel there is weight to it.

"It caught me, and I was inspired to get involved. Not all the stories made the cut, though. I wish they did because Dave is some character."

It's fair to say the tale spoke to Spiewak who saw in it echoes of his own creative journey. Hailing from one of the most deprived communities in the country, he understands the desire to break away and take on ambitious creative pursuits.

He adds: "First of all, when I heard the title Schemers and the fact it was set in Dundee, I just thought of a kind of dreich, Scottish film that was all about drugs and gangs, and I wasn't super interested.

"then I realised it was about these boys running schemes and the youthful celebration of trying to be ambitious and trying to break out from where they are from.

"That totally resonated with me. I come from the bottom end of Alloa – you're not really taught about opportunity down there; you either go into the glassworks or become a tradesman.

"And that is sound advice because eventually you'll be able to afford a mortgage or be able to go on holidays, but the minute you have any ambitions about showbusiness or game design or something like that… it just feels bit out of reach.

"Personally, I find it hard to express myself in words, but I feel I am able to do it through an art form. Also, it gets me out of my bed in the morning. I'm everything with it and nothing without it.

"The amount of slaggings I got for spending all my money on these projects was unreal, but now I have a few bigger projects under my belt, I feel people are taking notice.

"And that's great. For those people who have that 13-year-old or 14 -year-old in their life with a strong artistic interest, just support them."

IMPACT: Alloa native Khaled Spiewak made a notable contribution to Schemers. Pictures by Stephen D Grant

IMPACT: Alloa native Khaled Spiewak made a notable contribution to Schemers. Pictures by Stephen D Grant

It had taken so long to get to the stage where Schemers could be released, but it is not likely to be the end of the tale. Work is already underway to follow up with a sequel and possibly a trilogy.

If that is the case, both Connor and Spiewak are keen to roll up their sleeves once again.

Davie McLean went on to enjoy a career in the industry working with the likes of Nirvana, Rage Against the Machine and Oasis. And, by all accounts, the stories just get more insane.

Connor says: "I think three films would be great because the stories Dave has from being in and around the industry are genuinely extraordinary.

"There is so much scope there – so much potential – to make another two great films. I think it would be a waste if we weren't able to do something with that.

"You might watch Schemers and think: 'I don't think this could get any more mental…' But trust me, it does.

"Dave put on a musical festival in Thailand that was headlined by The Stone Roses and Oasis – so there is a lot there that could easily make great stories and great movies."

Schemers was released on DVD last month and is available to buy or rent digitally from Amazon, iTunes, Virgin Media, Rakuten TV, Curzon and the PlayStation store.