The Shutdown

Belching gas by day, Bladerunner by night: the explosion at the Grangemouth oil refinery that killed two men

Adam Stafford

10 minutes

The Shutdown

  • Every night in Falkirk in the central lowlands of Scotland, smoke from the nearby Grangemouth oil refinery engulfs the town, and the lights from the industrial complex make the fog glow bright orange. As a child, the writer and playwright Alan Bissett would look out at the factory and occasionally he’d see the unstable chemicals igniting, turning the smoke to flames. When the explosion eventually came, killing two workers and badly injuring his own father, it was a tragedy, but it wasn’t a surprise. In The Shutdown, Bissett reflects on a childhood spent in the shadow of this ‘techno vision of the future’, detailing the dangers faced by workers whose lives are so easily sacrificed in service of production and profit. The director Adam Stafford pairs poetic imagery and music with Bissett’s lyrical prose, painting an uneasy portrait of the modern industrial landscape in which our self-destructive thirst for oil continues unslaked.

  • Director Biography:

    Adam Stafford is a filmmaker and musician from Falkirk, Central Scotland. After studying film and photography at Napier University, he formed the band Y’all is Fantasy Island who have issued four critically lauded albums to date, including a collection of film soundtrack work. The Shutdown was his first short film, and it has won a number of awards, including Best Short Documentary at the San Francisco Film Festival 2010 and the Palm Springs Shortfest 2010. It was also shortlisted for a Scottish BAFTA in 2011.

    Author Biography

    Alan Bissett was born in 1975 in Falkirk, Scotland. He grew up in Hallglen, a housing scheme on the outskirts of the town and the setting for much of his later work. He has written four novels: Boyracers (2001), The Incredible Adam Spark (2005), Death of a Ladies’ Man (2009), and Pack Men (2011); and was the Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland Writer of the Year 2011. He has also written for the theatre, including the play The Ching Room, and his one-woman show The Moira Monologues. In addition to The Shutdown, his other work includes a collaboration with the singer-songwriter Malcolm Middleton (Arab Strap) on the song ‘The Rebel On His Own Tonight’, for the Ballads of the Book (2007) album project. Bissett is currently working on a number of projects. A film version of Boyracers is in development, and a BBC version of The Moira Monologues is being scripted; and he is working on a show, Nikki and the Gang, for Youth Musical Theatre UK and a new play entitled The Red Hourglass.


  • Director: Adam Stafford
  • Producer: Peter Gerard
  • Writer: Alan Bissett
  • Editor: Adam Stafford, Leo Bruges, Peter Gerard
  • Cinematographer: Leo Bruges
  • Original Music: Adam Stafford

  • Running Time: 10 minutes
  • Language: English
  • Contact: KurzFilmAgentur Hamburg: | +49 3910630
  • Website: