You've Been Trumped - Anthony Baxter interview
Director of Donald Trump doc on being shunned by Scottish film bodies
Anthony Baxter director of documentary You've Been Trumped talks golf, land grabs, multimillionaires, lawyers and the Scottish film scene.
‘I live in Montrose and it’s 40 miles south of the Menie Estate, where Donald Trump was planning to build his golf course resort. I read the newspapers every day and I was surprised that the coverage was so one-sided. The other side of the story, as I saw it, was not only the spat Trump was having with farmer Michael Forbes and the tight knit community where he was planning to build his resort, but also the environmental aspect of the destruction of sand dunes, which were of unique scientific importance.
So, I went up to speak to the residents and found they had a real passion for the environment, but also that they were also alarmed at what came with the development. For example the security presence – one of the locals was told by security men to spreadeagle herself on the bonnet of her car outside her house. I was appalled. I thought there was clearly something amiss here that just wasn't being reported. I thought there was a story here that needed to be told and that Donald Trump should be held to account.
‘I made a trailer and took it to the Edinburgh International Film Festival, and that’s where I had all the doors shut in my face. People were saying that Donald Trump was a powerful man with a reputation for taking legal action against people. The television companies were also scared to get involved in funding the film. I was turned down by Creative Scotland, who said nobody would watch it. The Edinburgh Film Festival rejected the film. Creative Scotland receives its money from the Scottish government, who also back the Edinburgh Film Festival, and the Scottish government backed the Trump proposal. People have asked me if I think it’s a stitch-up.
‘The press, including the BBC, recently reported that Donald Trump’s £750 million golf resort is nearing completion. That’s incorrect. Donald Trump claims he has spent £60 million; golf experts claim he has spent £3 million so far. He has built one golf course and not a single brick has been laid for the hotel and housing complex, which was the basis of the economic regeneration that the Scottish government said outweighed environmental concerns. Donald Trump said he was putting the housing and the hotel on hold because of economic circumstances. The press are not doing their job. It’s no wonder people don’t know what’s going on up there.
‘Michael Forbes and the other residents have no intention of leaving their homes, but they have found it an incredibly stressful experience. Molly Forbes, for example, is being chased for £50,000 legal costs because she questioned the validity of Trump being given the go ahead in the first place. So they all have this awful affair still hanging over the heads. Residents also say that the damage to the dunes has been done. That extraordinarily important piece of land, Scotland’s Amazon rainforest, has been lost forever. The landscape has been turned into an artificial desert. The foxes and the birds have all disappeared. The residents all feel sick to their stomachs, and they feel the government and the local authorities and Scotland has let them down.
‘You have to ask yourself the question: if Scotland does want to be a greener land, is it going to continue to ignore the voices of people who oppose a policy of economic development at any cost?’
You've Been Trumped is showing as part of Take One Action Film Festival.