Scottish teenager Gemma has never backed down from a fight: that’s the way of life in the low-income Jerviston housing estate where she grew up in Motherwell. In a place still reeling from the closure of the local steelworks, there’s little to do for teenagers looking for kicks. As Gemma says, scheme birds like her either get “locked up or knocked up,” so perhaps her path is set.
As Gemma's life twists unexpectedly the film follows her and the people in her life: her grandfather (who raised her from a baby after her mother left), her boyfriend Pat, her unlucky best friend Amy, and her neighbour JP. In this heartbreakingly tender coming-of-age tale Scheme Birds asks what causes a person to change—and whether it's ever too late to do so.
Lyrical yet unflinching in its gaze, this remarkable documentary debut offers a sobering reflection on the reality of social inequity in today’s Scotland, and the communities that have been left behind.